Life can be a lot sometimes. Simply being a human comes with so many responsibilities, stressors, and heartache that it can be hard to process. There are many tried and true habits for maintaining good mental health such as exercising, meditating, and getting enough sleep, but there is one that often goes overlooked.
Time and time again, behavioral health experts have reported that journaling can help people cope with anxiety, stress, and depression. What makes journaling so effective? It gives you a chance to process your emotions and put your thoughts and feelings on paper. Like Dumbledore’s Pensieve, you get to pull the troubling thoughts out of your head and set them somewhere else. You get to be creative without fear of scrutiny.
While many people keep journals as children and teenagers, they often give up the habit as adults. Some aspects of journaling can seem silly or even intimidating – what do I even write about? What’s the point? Isn’t it basically just talking to yourself? These are all valid questions, but they all have roughly the same answer – do whatever you want! You decide what you write about and what the point is. A journal is your own safe space where you get to think and exist and express however you want. And you’re not just limited to words on a page.
Journaling can look like anything – paragraphs, pictures, bullet journals – whatever speaks to you. A journal is what you make it, and it’s a free place to express ideas. You can write about things that are troubling you, you can catalog wildflowers that you saw on a walk, or you can draw adorable cartoon cat characters. If you’re not sure where to start, there are plenty of books to get you going with so many different types of journaling. Half the battle is just forming the habit. If you’re more of a visual person, picture journaling can be a great way to get your thoughts on the page. “How to Keep a Sketchbook Journal” offers helpful tips, samples and encouragement for starting your own visual journal. If you’re someone who needs their nature fix, consider a nature journal. Books like “Nature Journaling,” “Keeping a Nature Journal” and “The Law’s Guide to Nature Drawing and Journaling” can help you get more in touch with yourself and the world around you. The recent trend of bullet journaling also offers a unique and visually appealing way for you to track your habits, moods and so much more!
As with most healthy habits, the benefits of journaling are best reaped when it is done daily. Still, every little bit helps. Your best bet is to make journaling as easy as possible – keep your notebook and pen within easy reach, and set aside a few minutes of your day. To quote Anne Frank, author of one of the most famous diaries, “Paper has more patience than people.”