At the start of the new year, I went out and bought this little bugger:
But I digress. The main reason for buying this cute and cost-effective journal, and the focus of this post, is journaling.
There are a lot of reasons to start journaling, and a lot of different types of journals you can create. Maybe in the future I’ll pursue one of those, but right now, the current goal is consistency.
For some context, I attempted journaling in the past. I started this blog as essentially a public journal, and I also wrote a lot of shorter personal journal entries when I was volunteering in Peru, as well as when I started experiencing irregular anxiety over the summer.
Those are all good reasons, and perfectly fine behaviors. They were helpful at the time, and I especially like going back to read about my more positive experiences. But I am here to talk about casual and consistent journaling, because in the short few months I’ve been doing it, it has been a great experience.
WHAT & WHY
This article was my main blueprint, and I highly recommend it. It provides some good details on different reasons for journaling, as well as different platforms – notebook, blog, phone apps, etc. For my purposes, I went with the traditional physical notebook, and I don’t have any regrets.
What I like best about this journal so far is that I can actually trace my emotions, and better understand my experiences. For example, my very first entry was about two weeks after my dog died. I was still missing him a lot, so I sat down, pulled out this journal, and finally wrote about everything.
After that, more entries ensued about normal life things. What exercises I was doing, homework due dates, stuff I did with my friends. And then, randomly one week, I suddenly felt overwhelmed between class and friends and body image, and all sorts of things really. So I sat and wrote about my thoughts, and I realized I had looped back to a lot of the underlying sadness about my dog that I still hadn’t addressed.
The thing about writing solely in times of crises, from what I’ve gathered, is that it is a lot harder to trace your actions and behaviors in a broader context. Having a journal of only your struggles and severely negative times makes it harder to see the ways you overcame it all. The action of writing your thoughts and feelings is pretty cathartic and can help you get a handle and a better perspective of what is going on in your life, but it also makes the focus on these struggles – versus all the good things that happen in between. Keeping a regular journal helps see the bigger picture.
WHEN & HOW
Now, I am definitely not proposing writing in a journal every night for an extended period of time (though that would be quite a cool thing to look back on)! Life is busy, regardless of your circumstances, and journaling can quickly become a chore – and that isn’t the point of it at all.
A lot of my reluctance to starting this was because I didn’t want to get bogged down in staying up late to spend a bunch of time reflecting on my day. Then I realized that it is my journal, for my own personal use and development, and I could do whatever I wanted. So I started writing two or three times a week for about 20 minutes – enough to do at least a page – right before I went to bed. It was an easy way to take a moment for myself and relax, for starters, something I’m definitely working on.
It was also fun, and I didn’t have that usual “ALL OR NOTHING” mentality about it, or the super perfectionist tendencies about writing in it. If I had to leave one major take-away, it would be this: do whatever you want with it, whenever you want with it – but just do something.
While I’m here trying to convince you to write about your life, if that isn’t your style – please just find a way to give yourself some “me time” to reflect. People, school, and life in general throw a lot at us everyday, and it’s easy to let those external forces rule our thoughts and behaviors. Taking a little time to get centered is not a bad thing.
Until next time…!