By Kait Spong
We keep a lot of thoughts in our heads – from due dates, facts from lectures, and the latest gossip – but we tend to put a lot less down onto paper. However, a great way to keep your thoughts organized and clear your mind is to write them down in a journal. Writing is an excellent mental exercise for anyone, especially in college, when one day is so different from the next. To get started with this healthy coping mechanism, check out our tips below.
Set a schedule. Decide how many times you want to write in your journal and set a loose schedule. Whether it’d be once a day or once a week, settle on your routine, and don’t skip out – no matter how tempting it might be. Pro-tip: just think of it like any other commitment you have to yourself!
Use a platform or method that works for you. Some people are into physical journals, and others swear by going paperless. If you’re new to journaling, you should experiment and see which platform or method works for you. Penzu, for example, is an excellent online journaling platform that hosts two million journalists from all over the globe.
Remove distractions. Journaling is a time of conscious reflection, which means you should keep any distractions out of that time you set aside for yourself. Ditch the social media notifications, chat bubbles, and Netflix for a spell. If you must, turn off the Wi-Fi completely and put your smartphone on silent.
Keep it free-form. Your journal doesn’t have to be any one medium – that’s the beauty of the practice. You can express yourself in whichever way you choose, whether it’d be words, drawing, collaging, or list-making. Sometimes, keeping it free-form is the best route toward natural self-expression.
Enjoy yourself. Writing in a journal should be an enjoyable experience, not a chore. Have fun with your journaling and take pleasure in it. It can be anything you want it to be: structured or free-form; fiction or non-fiction; words or visuals; simple or complex — just make it your own!
No one said journaling was easy, but it’s well worth the effort! The hardest part about the practice is getting started. By putting in the conscious effort and following the tips above, however, you should have no trouble immersing yourself in this emotionally and mentally productive practice for years to come.