By Aileen Mack
Keeping a journal reminds me of my younger days. Journaling makes me think of my summers when I would write about my daily activities and travels. In more recent years, I only journaled when I had something to write about, something on my mind or something particular going on in my life. But since the beginning of this semester, I started to journal again five days a week for at least 30 minutes with the guidance of prompts/explorations from the book “Writing and Being: Embracing Your Life Through Creative Journaling” for one of my classes.
Journaling gives you the chance to spend alone time with yourself and be with your thoughts. While that may be a scary thought to many people, myself included, it’s actually really important. Like any other relationship, you’ve got to nurture it and make time for it. Spending some quality time with yourself can be invaluable. One benefit I gained from journaling is that I’m ok with being alone in public. For the first time this semester, I went to see a movie by myself, and it was an enjoyable experience. I was able to get wrapped in the movie without having to worry about anyone else, even subconsciously.
With my final semester coming to a close at the University of Florida, I’m dealing with stress from various sources, so getting to journal every day has helped me manage my stress and worries a lot better. Being able to write them down and explore these feelings has been therapeutic. Sometimes when you start writing about one thing, you just can’t stop. You’re able to admit freely to yourself the things that you wouldn’t have otherwise. You’re able to understand yourself better and build that relationship you have with yourself. I’m able to process my emotions and not brush them off by telling myself to ‘get over it’ and ‘it’ll all be fine.’ I acknowledge and accept these feelings, which allow me to recognize that all my feelings are valid.
According to Thai Nguyen and The Huffington Post, journaling also has other benefits, including stretching your IQ, strengthening your self-discipline and sparking your creativity. Doing ‘stream of consciousness’ writing can bring out thoughts and ideas you didn’t know you had in you and loosens up the expressive muscles. While you write, you may get the urge to find new words and increase your vocabulary while doing so. Writing in your journal can take you into a state of mindfulness while frustrations and anxieties lose some of their power in the present, and Nguyen wrote that there’s a strong connection between happiness and mindfulness.
Admittedly, I have yet to read back anything more than a week old, but it will definitely be interesting to see my perspective and thoughts from this time in my life later on. I highly recommend giving journaling a try because it has helped me during this stressful time in my life.