Everybody has their own little routine or their own personal positive spaces they create for themselves. Mine is writing. Although I love to write in all shapes and forms, my personal favorite is writing in a journal.
No, this is not just a “silly diary.” This is a personal space to express myself, release thoughts and feelings, write poetry, make lists, write down goals and so much more. Writing in this journal on an almost daily basis has helped me through the best times and the worst and it is definitely something that helps me get through life.
Here are 10 ways keeping a journal can help you keep your sanity as a college student.
1. Releases Negative Energy
One of the best things about writing in a journal (notebook, diary, whatever you want to call it) is being able to release negative energy or at least try to make sense of it. Negativity comes in all shapes and sizes and from anywhere in life. Sometimes it’s a rude person, an impossible assignment in the worst class or a fight with a friend. Sometimes it’s just a bad day in general. It can weigh down hard on us, but it shouldn’t bring us down with it. No matter what it is, write it.
These things that happen can create anger or sadness along with a bunch of confusion. When you feel a negative force caving in on you, writing it down makes it easier to understand while simultaneously making it seem less powerful. You’ve defined it so now you can figure it out better.
2. Provides Clarity
For me personally, reality seems so chaotic. The way I understand it is by placing it into my own structured, narrative form. Writing down what is going on in your life, your thoughts and how you feel about everything solidifies the intangible words floating around in your head. It provides a sense of validation, of truth and of calmness. So next time you are going through one of those insane midterms or finals weeks and you feel like your head is literally going to spin off, try writing down what you’re thinking. I promise it helps.
3. Allows You to Reflect
After having the ability to write everything down, you can always go back and read it. The journal becomes a reflective process, where you can look back and see your progression, growth or need to work through things. Imagine reading an entry from a few years ago— it’s like having a glimpse back at yourself and your life at the time. Then imagine comparing it to how you live currently… trust me the difference is eye opening and drastic. The journal is like your own personalized history book all about you— what could be better?
4. Becomes You’re Creative Space
Writing in a journal is not only its own form of a coping mechanism, it’s also an incredibly positive creative space. Imagine you’re an artist and the journal is your giant, blank canvas. You can do whatever you like— throw paint at it or make meticulous brush strokes. Whatever you do, it’s still art. Better yet it’s your art.
I make like an artist and draw, glue photos, copy down quotes or write poetry in mine. I never even knew I loved writing poetry until I tried it in my journal. With there being absolutely no restrictions to what you can put down, ideas flow free and there’s no pressure. You can cross out things you hate and highlight the things you love. It’s all about you and what you want and need. It’s also about letting all of the ideas you have out and possibly finding out more about yourself.
5. Doesn’t Let You Forget
A journal is also great for writing down random things you don’t want to forget, like that paper due next week or that your friend’s birthday is this coming Friday (I bet you almost forgot!). I also use it to make lists of favorite things like songs, places I’ve eaten and more, that way I can’t forget. It’s like a very, very disorganized calendar or like those random sticky notes you put everywhere. If you understand it that’s all that matters.
6. Motivates You
A journal is also a motivation. I like to write down my goals, big and small, concerning everything from my personal life (like making sure I make time for myself) to my future career (like getting into law school or landing a good job). Reading the things I want to accomplish helps remind myself why I’m working so hard and also gives me excitement. It’s nice to see how your goals have changed, what you’ve accomplished and what you are going to. It’s keeps you wanting to move forward, grow and be the best self you can be.
7. Holds You Accountable
Being able to read your goals and work towards them also makes for a system of accountability. If you wrote down you wanted to get something done, it is there to remind you that you have to do it. It keeps you on track for the things you want and need to do for yourself, whether it be that much needed self-care day after a long semester of classes or those practice sessions so you’re ready to try out for that club team.
8. Helps You Maintain a Routine
Doing something day in and day out becomes a routine and also becomes a source of stability. It’s almost like exercising or playing those little brain game apps. Writing in a journal can be another thing to help you feel good and stable. When everything may seem out of control, such as when you have a million things due, you have 5 parties to go to and your dog is sick at home; writing it down along with some frustrations definitely helps. You feel like within all that craziness at least you can write in the journal and that will feel normal.
9. Helps You Make Decisions
This or that. It always feels like that doesn’t it? No matter what it is. Go to a party or study? Add another major or find a whole new one? Take that impossible class or give yourself a break and take the easy one? It’s so overwhelming! A journal, thankfully, can help with this. When you write through the tough decisions you have to make or create pro & con lists, it allows you to see both sides fully lain out before you instead of all crammed into your head. What’s even better is you can even write that all down, go to sleep and wake up the next day to read it over again with fresh eyes. Everything you thought of is still there, untouched and ready to be thought through!
10. Self-Love and Gratefulness
With all the craziness in our daily lives and especially college lives, it is easy to have our self-love and just plain ole regular love and appreciation get lost. We have to worry about our friends, our families at home, our classes, our grades, our housing, our schedules— it never ends! With a journal, you can write down the things you feel you love or appreciate in yourself or your life. This is nice to read and have, because re-reading it on a not-so-okay day serves as a little source of happiness and a reminder that things will get better. There is so much to smile about so having it all down and saved is great to do.