Accounting and finance student, Eman, talks about the benefits of keeping a journal:
Brains are weird, they are. Thoughts are even weirder; they come and go anytime they please. They can be good thoughts, bad thoughts, intrusive thoughts, dreamy thoughts, or the most random thought ever. Point being, our brains never stop. It needs to stand still and chill for a minute sometimes!
These thoughts can be overwhelming or pleasing sometimes but there are ways to get around them and effectively manage them. You guessed it – Journaling!
It might sound cliché that how good writing can be for us but in this blog, I will walk you through why it really is good for the soul and mind.
Some people are already used to journaling, some people are thinking about starting to journal, some like the idea of journaling whilst others don’t know journaling can help them out in ways they didn’t think it would.
It is important to get it out of the way that journaling is not something that needs to be done religiously every night before going to bed because that’s what the ‘trend’ is. In fact, it does not have to be done every day at all. We think that if we take up on journaling as a commitment that we must to do every single day. But because of life reasons, we may not always have the time or the patience for it.
When we skip a night or two, we feel disappointed and demotivated that we couldn’t commit to it, so we tend to stop it altogether. This may not be true for everybody, but this is exactly what happened to me and for this reason, I always resisted the idea of journaling. This, I learnt over time, that journaling is not about commitment at all, it should not feel like another thing that you ‘have’ to do on top of all other things that you actually are responsible for. It is about your wellbeing, it should come naturally as something gives you pleasure, that you want to do it.
It really does not have to be every day, it can be weekly or monthly check-ins with yourselves or generally whenever you feel like it, especially when you feel more overwhelmed or stressed than you normally do.
Let me elaborate on that a little more:
It may not come naturally at first, but it is about taking that first step and effort to get going. Once that is out of the way, it becomes fairly easy and effortless, especially once you start to realise and understand the benefits of doing it.
So, what exactly are the benefits of journaling?
- Lifts off a burden of your chest:
I mentioned earlier, about how we tend to be so overwhelmed so easily in this fast-paced world. We are exposed to so many stressors of life, I mean literally and figuratively. For example, stressors from the pollution, the long queues of the buses, especially in Bath, running late in lectures, lagging behind, the stress of overcoming deadlines, arguments with your partners or friends, making sure you cook for yourself and so on… like I said all can be a bit too overwhelming.
Our mind is like a closed box, it takes in information all the time and has no way of out-letting it, this eventually builds up leads to frustrations, mood swings and even breakdowns. To top it all off, it is all heightened when you are a teenager or a young adult, figuring out your way through life – when you are thrown into this world of independence after moving out. It can feel like it comes naturally and easily for some people, and you feel left out. But I assure you, this is not the case at all! Everybody has their own ways of living through life, we have to figure out our own.
Coming back to the main point: all of your feelings need an outlet for you to navigate through them, understand them and hence subsequently manage them. That outlet is done really well on a piece of paper. I don’t mean fancy diaries that cost a fortune; I just mean a simple notebook and a pen would do the job just as good.
Again, jotting down your feelings can also feel overwhelming, but it does not have to be. Just start rambling on the paper. Whatever you are thinking and feeling, try to pin it and express it through your pen. Forget about the grammatical or spelling mistakes that you will be making all the way and start writing down the words you are thinking at that point in time and scribble it away!
Once you start to get into the zone of just writing and writing, you will start to feel that the thoughts are hard to keep up with your speed of writing; that is a good sign. It ensures that you have indeed delved deep into your thought processes – this is when your thoughts start to feel a bit more organised and manageable. It is like a catharsis of you taking a firm hold and then letting go like a waterfall.
Everything mentioned so far comes into play when you have taken that first step of writing. But some people struggle with not knowing where to start. I have some techniques and ideas which you can use as the starting point.
Start by asking yourself these questions:
- what are the three things that made you smile today and describe why
- What is something you did today that made somebody else happier?
- What makes you the happiest?
- What makes you feel sad?
- It is a way of organising your thoughts
Believe it or not, scribbling your thoughts down on paper helps make a lot more sense out of them than when everything is jumbled up inside our brains. One thought over another can be messy inside. When writing, you are processing them and so it becomes easier for you to understand them and get to the root of them.
- Helps you understand yourself better
Teenage is an interesting era of one’s life, it is when you experience so many new things that you haven’t before, you explore more, you meet new people, build relationships and friendships. We need to be able to ground ourselves with all the roller coaster of feelings and emotions we encounter. Journaling is a good way to acknowledge them. You will be surprised by the things you learn about yourself! Hence it makes for a good opportunity for you to find and understand yourself better.
- Productive use of time
Like I mentioned in my previous point, these teenage and early twenties are important years of life for self-development and progression. Journaling can be a useful way for you to do that. It is like investing time in yourself to better understand and find yourself. You take care of yourself, check-in with yourself and make sure everything is okay inside your world! And so, it makes for a healthy and productive use of your time.