When I was in middle school, I had several notebooks. One for my creative writing, some for schoolwork. The one that meant the most to me was my personal journal.
My journal was not a diary. I didn’t write my crush’s name in hearts in the margins, nor did I allow the dramas of 6th grade to consume the blank spaces. Instead, I recounted my day, telling my “reader” what I had for lunch, how my day went, things that bothered me, and so on. (I’ll admit that as a sixth grader, I didn’t have many interesting adventures to write about.)
It wasn’t until recently that I came across some of these old journals. While I cringed at my terrible grammar, rereading my old entries rekindled the love I once had for personal writing.
Now that I’m older, life has given me so many opportunities, heartbreaks, and beautiful moments. With my new adult life, however, came a plague of anxiety and stress that 6th grade me would’ve never understood.
I am not a special case in this adult-ing struggle. Pretty much every college student seems to suffer sleepless nights, constant worries about the future, and panicking about how quickly life seems to be moving.
Sometimes, the problems of life can seem overwhelming. It is very easy to get sucked into your own head and sometimes life seems like an endless hurricane.
So what was it about rereading my old journals that sparked something in me? The idea that life goes on, and how many little moments create it. There is something about writing about your day and the little accomplishments that you achieve that makes you feel progressive.
One of my biggest worries is the idea that I’m wasting my time. I always fear that time is going by too fast and that I’m missing out. After journaling again, I came to realize how much I accomplish in one day.
My formatting for my new journaling method is simple, but effective. First, I start by asking myself “How was your day?”. In this section I usually summarize the positive events of the day and end it with any major conflicts or things that might be bothering me. By doing so, I remind myself just how hard I’ve worked and how many good things came out of the day, but I still leave room for dealing with uncontrollable life issues.
Next, I like to ask myself “What did you do for yourself today?”. This usually evokes answers such as how much water I drank, whether or not I did things I love (reading/writing/etc.), if I exercised, as well as others. This is the most crucial part of my journaling method since it forces myself to step back and examine how I treat my body. Did I go to bed early? Eat breakfast? I’ve found that by writing out what I did and did not do for myself, my mental health has improved as well as my physical health!
Lastly, I like to close out my daily journal log with a positive affirmation about myself or the world. We all have rough days, and by reminding ourselves of our own self worth we make sure to keep ourselves grounded. For example, my affirmation for the day was as follows: I deserve happiness and my happiness is worth fighting for.
I’ve been following this set up for a few weeks now and I must say that my family, friends, and myself have seen a noticeable change in my attitude, mental health, and behavior. Most importantly, I feel better about myself again. I have confidence, motivation, and I feel powerful.
Who knew journaling could be so therapeutic!