Yesterday I went back and looked at all my old journals. I have four of them total, all lined up in chronological order on my shelf. The first one starts in the seventh grade. Even though my problems then were tiny and now sort of laughable, it was unreal to see that this was me, not that long ago. Seeing myself evolve through these pages made me realize how far I have come, and how far I still have to go.
Keeping a journal, consistently and honestly, is one of the best things I have ever done for myself. I have always been a very nostalgic and sentimental person, and the fear of forgetting important (and not important) things in my life is what made me want to journal the most. Everything I’ve felt is in those books, timestamped and in order. Being able to look back is a really cool and humbling thing, because often I think people forget the way they used to feel about things, and how unbelievably real it all was at the time.
Writing your thoughts down also helps you sort through your emotions. If I write for long enough, I find I almost always come to a conclusion of what to do next, or sometimes it helps me identify my feelings. Knowing these things takes a huge weight off of me and allows me to figure out how to solve a problem, or what my next step should be in a situation. Especially since you may not always have someone available to listen to your problems, your journal can be that person. A therapy session written down and to be looked back on later.
For me, journaling can sometimes have more than just an emotional effect. When I finish writing, especially when I was feeling really anxious, my entire body feels calmer and less panicky. Writing before bed makes me feel able to put my thoughts (and body) to rest.
I wanted to see if it was just me who shared this opinion. When my best friend Alana came to visit me at Nova today, I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to get a second opinion:
Erin: Do you journal?
Alana: Yes. Because it’s a good way for me to express emotion. And it’s a really good coping mechanism for me.
Erin: When you journal, is it normally at times when you feel good or content, or do you normally write when you’re feeling upset or distressed?
Alana: I’d say both.
Erin: Do you ever look back on your journals? How does that make you feel?
Alana: Yes, occasionally. It makes me feel nostalgic for the past.
Erin: What made you start journaling?
Alana: Debbie’s blog class! Because it was required, but then I turned out really liking it and doing it on my own.
Erin: How long have you been journaling for?
Alana: About a year
Erin: Do you often feel better after journaling?
When I interviewed Alana it made me feel better knowing it wasn’t just me. Journaling can be a great and productive way to get out your emotions. When you start writing and keep doing it, it helps you work through how you’re feeling and better identify your thoughts. You can start by just writing down what happened to you today, and how it makes you feel. You can also write as much or as little as you want. Overall, I think just journaling at all is a step in the right direction of self care. This idea of self care is talked about a lot and I think this is the most vital way I practice it. If you feel like you’re going through something, I highly encourage you to pick up a book and a pen and start writing.