Ever kept a journal? Ever thought of keeping a journal? You should try it! Journalling can be a truly cathartic experience that helps you work through your thoughts and emotions in a healthy way. It’s an especially useful way of dealing with feelings, fears and frustrations during lockdown and as we emerge into a new way of life.
How to keep a journal
Honestly, this is really easy and the details of how you journal are totally up to you.
- Get yourself a nice notebook to write in. You can journal on any scrap of paper, but having a really beautiful book makes the experience of journalling more special, and different from any other writing you do for work or studies.
- Find a quiet, private spot at home (or in your student digz if you have been able to return) where you can journal, without being disturbed. This could be in your bedroom, in a peaceful corner of the house, or even out in the garden.
- Write in your journal as often as you like. You can journal every day, once every few days… or even any time the thoughts in your head begin to overwhelm you.
Why keep a journal?
Confusing, unhappy, overwhelming thoughts are perfectly normal, especially when you’re in your late teens and early twenties. Journalling helps you to process these emotions in a healthy and safe manner. It’s a way in which to strive towards emotional intelligence – allowing you to feel what you are feeling, without becoming a slave to your emotional reactions.
1. A safe emotional release
Journalling is a safe way of releasing the tension that builds up when you keep all your feelings locked away inside. Just the physical act of writing out your anger, sadness, confusion (or happiness – emotions are not always negative) can provide relief.
2. Puts feelings into perspective
Your feelings are real… but they are often larger than life when they are stuck inside your head. Writing your thoughts down often gives your feelings perspective. Challenges and problems are usually much less overwhelming when you see them written down in your journal, making it easier to find coping skills and solutions to your problems.
3. Discover your authentic self
Who are you? Do you REALLY know? Your journal can be a place to explore your feelings, likes and dislikes, fears, dreams and deep desires. It’s a totally safe space without judgement, where you can be free to be ‘wrong’ or ‘silly’ as you explore, discover and get to know your real, authentic self.
4. It is immediately soothing
Coping with negative feelings can be hard, especially if you’re prone to panic attacks. Journalling offers an immediate relief and helps with both the physical and emotional symptoms of stress. The rhythm of writing provides a positive release for nervous energy, and the act of getting your feelings out on paper is cathartic and healing.
5. It is easier than talking
Sometimes, when you’re feeling really frustrated or unhappy, reaching out to someone is difficult. Journalling is the perfect first step if you’re not ready to talk – it’s like reaching out to yourself! Once you have a bit more understanding of your feelings and some perspective, it may be easier to reach out to a friend or family member and explain how and why you feel the way you do.
Things are tough right now in South Africa and across the world, and chances are you’re feeling emotions that you don’t really understand. Keeping a journal can really help you process those feelings, so you don’t have to keep your emotions bottled up for the duration of lockdown!