By Emma Mae Sheedy
For many of us, diary entries are a thing of the past. Those nights you spent curled up in bed writing “Dear Diary,” hoping your parents or siblings would never find your hiding spot where you kept all your secrets, are now replaced by long nights of Netflix and/or scrolling through Instagram or Twitter. No more writing down your feelings or depending on an empty book to fill your thoughts.
But, what if I told you that journaling is important for you to do now, as an adult, especially as a college student? What if those simple times of writing down your secrets, thoughts and feelings, had more than just simple benefits to your life?
According to research published in the September issue of APA’s Journal of Experimental Psychology, researchers indicate that “expressive writing reduces intrusive and avoidant thoughts about negative events and improves working memory. These improvements… may in turn free up our cognitive resources for other mental activities.”
In simple terms, medical professionals believe that journaling can help manage anxiety, reduce stress, and cope with depression. Journaling can help create a schedule, give the opportunity to reflect on the positive and negative events of the past and so much more. It is important to create a schedule that includes writing in a diary or journal, regardless of your age or gender.
University of Rochester Medical Center says, “Journaling helps control your symptoms and improve your mood by: Helping you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns. Tracking any symptoms day-to-day so that you can recognize triggers and learn ways to better control them. Providing an opportunity for positive self-talk and identifying negative thoughts and behaviors.”
Christine Winter, a student at St. Thomas Aquinas College takes journaling very seriously. After losing a best friend over the summer in a car accident, she began journaling daily. Winter writes things in the journal that she would want to text her or tell her if she was still here. To Winter, journaling is a coping mechanism.
She said, “ I don’t think many people understand the power of having a journal and how writing things down can be so beneficial. I write down things that I couldn’t tell anyone else and it’s so freeing. I get to escape into my own little world.”
Winter talks about how before this major change in her life, she would have never journaled or wrote anything down, but this event made her realize how beneficial it is for her.
Journaling is beneficial to everyone, whether you have a life changing event or if you just need a place to write down thoughts. Mentally it is a great coping mechanism and it is a perfect way to deal with problems, look back at successful moments, and reflect on emotions. It has been found to even help with mimicking successful actions from the past.
Matthew Tina, a junior at STAC, has also been journaling for over two years. He has made it a major part of his daily routine and sees it as essential to his memory and mental health.
“Journaling [is important] because I can put down my thoughts for the day or thoughts in the moment… it has helped me go back and revisit my memories,” said Tina. “I really think others should journal because it’s always good to have and to write down stuff that is personal to you.”
Beginning to journal can be challenging to some, but here are some tips the University of Rochester Medical Center suggests to help you start the new activity:
- Begin by writing every day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. This will help create a pattern of regularly journaling.
- Keep a pen and paper close by at all times. Whenever you feel as if you want to write down how you feel it will be easier with those two things close by.
- Remember your journal is a private place. Discuss whatever you want, write whatever feels right and let your words flow freely. Don’t worry about what others would think or spelling errors.
- Share your journal only if you feel you can with trusted friends and loved ones, but don’t feel like you need to. Use your journal as you see fit. Share parts or don’t.
You should give journaling a chance.