Journaling. The dreaded activity that will supposedly solve all your problems. I journal every day and I’m not here to tell you that your problems will vanish once they appear on the page, but they will become easier to handle. In my nightstand drawer are seven finished journals, each one capturing a unique time in my life with its own joys and its own struggles. Adding journaling into your routine is a rewarding habit, and here is what I’ve learned from it.
Journaling has taught me that my problems aren’t as scary once they are on paper. As someone who considers themselves an extremely Type A, high-strung person, it is hard for me to untangle the wires in my brain and sort through the mess. Writing all my worries down in a row allows me to feel like they can get out of my head, at least temporarily. I can look at the page and see that my problems exist, but they no longer exist in my brain only, which is comforting.
Keeping a journal also helps me to preserve moments that I know I will not remember without it. When I re-read old journals, it brings me right back into a memory; I feel everything as if it is happening again in real-time because I have details that I would not otherwise have. I often look back on my journals from summer camp to give me a piece of the people I have not seen in a while, and I am so thankful to have that gift.
Journaling pushes me creatively. When I sit down to journal every day, I often don’t know what to write about, but I make myself write anyway. Once I get out everything that is running through my head, I write about things I don’t know I need to. This is where some of my best work comes from, and I am often able to turn these conclusions into other essays or poems. I believe that the best writing comes when you think you have nothing else to write about, and I try to make this practice part of my routine.
Finally, journaling helps remind me how far I have come. When I re-read past entries, I often cannot believe how caught up I was in things that don’t matter now. The struggles I had a few years ago are just a blink in the span of my life and gaining some perspective through picking up a journal is helpful at times. There are a lot of things I thought I wanted when I was younger and realizing how much happier I am without those things helps me to take a deep breath and worry a little less.
If you are wanting to make journaling a daily habit, I would suggest picking a consistent time of the day that is devoted to writing. I keep my journal and a pen on my nightstand so I can easily reach them when I am going to bed each night. I typically start by writing what happened that day, how I felt about it, and then other things I’ve been thinking about lately. It is difficult to form a habit, so do your best and be kind to yourself.
Abby Bruner is double majoring is English and Communications. She is working on the nonfiction section and enjoys working out, writing, and reading!