Imagine that you've just had a long day at school. Maybe you had a fight with your friends. Maybe you got rejected by your crush. Or maybe you didn't do as well on a test as you wanted to. You desperately need someone to talk to but you feel as if you don't have anyone to turn to. This is an unavoidable situation that pretty much everyone has been in at some point in their lives and it is a situation where you become your own best friend. In this case, and in many other situations, journaling is the best way to put your mind at ease.
Personally, I never used to be able to consistently keep a journal. I would try to sit down and write an account of my day but, during the more mundane ones, I would just be listing off a series of events. For example, "I woke up, had breakfast, went to school, came home, went to bed" is along the lines of what my journaling became. Then I would stop for some time, then come back to it and the same thing would happen. I would stop again and the whole cycle would repeat itself.
However, as I started getting older, my emotions were becoming more complex. This is obviously normal as I was hitting puberty and becoming a teenager, but it isn't exactly a fun time. I dislike talking about my feelings with other people as I feel like it burdens them so I prefer listening to other people's problems rather than talking about my own. Therefore, journaling became my favourite coping mechanism. There is something about forcing yourself to put whatever you're feeling into words that are extremely therapeutic and it's almost addictive. If I were to have a bad day, writing about it would make me instantly feel better. It feels as if a weight is being lifted off my shoulders. Here is exactly how journaling helped me and how it could also help you:
Express your feelings without the fear of being judged
First of all, it gives you a way to express your feelings without the fear of being judged. Whenever you talk to a friend about your problems, there can sometimes be a feeling of underlying anxiety- you could be nervous that they will judge you, or tell other people. However, writing about how you feel in your journal does not come with this extra stress. Remember to keep your journal private- it's for you and your benefit alone. Having said this, if you do need professional help, journaling should not be a substitute for this but it can help you to put your feelings into words and to properly describe and articulate your emotions to other people.
Improves your writing and communication skills dramatically
Secondly, it improves your writing and communication skills dramatically. When I started taking some time out every so often to communicate whatever deep, complex emotion I was feeling in a clear way, it really increased both my passion and talent for writing. If you're struggling with your English class and don't know how to advance your skills, journaling is one of the best ways to help.
Organize your thoughts
Furthermore, it drives us to organize our thoughts. What goes on inside our heads can sometimes be so intricate that simply making sense of it can be a challenge. However, when keeping a journal, we have to convert these emotions into words that can be understood. It is no secret that our sentiments can be metaphorically loud and can overwhelm us. Therefore, when we force ourselves to understand these thoughts to the point where we can clearly write about it without it sounding like gibberish, it sets your mind at ease and gives you the ever-important mental peace and quiet that we all crave.
Another thing that I adore about journaling is how versatile it is: you can use it for multiple different purposes. You can focus on the future and set your goals or focus on the past and reflect on your day. You can even focus on the present and express how you feel in the moment you're writing it. Something that I found really useful was writing letters to people I was feeling overwhelming emotion towards- whether that be love, anger, or disappointment. I'm not the type of person who confronts people about situations as I tend to avoid conflict but when I write them 'letters' in my journal (obviously I won't be sending them!) it made me feel a lot better.
Gives you something to look back on
In addition to this, journaling gives you something to look back on in the future. It stores your memories in a way that pictures can't. Most of the time, the pictures on your phone don't communicate exactly what you're feeling. It's the emotions we want to remember; not the events. Also, it's often the days where nothing special happens that you are the happiest: it could just be a normal day of school but you could be in a good mood for whatever reason. However, you are less likely to take a picture on your phone of something you do all the time, but you will probably write down how you're feeling. In the future, when you're having a bad day, or just want to reminisce, you can look back on these accounts and remember what happened on this enjoyable day. On the other side of the spectrum, you could also look back at your bad days and realize how far you've come. This thought in itself will motivate you to persevere with whatever hardships you're facing.
Everyone can do it
Finally, something to remember about journaling is that everyone can do it! All you need is something to write on and something to write with. Some people prefer journaling in fancy notebooks, some people like writing on a scrap piece of paper, and others would just rather write in the notes feature on their smartphone. It's completely up to you as you're doing it for yourself.