Dear Diary: Why Keeping A Journal Is The Best Form Of Therapy

During a recent break from school, I wandered into the basement and found my “memory box.” Inside was a wide-ruled notebook covered in colorful cartoon animals. Think Lisa Frank, but perhaps a little less elementary school. Naturally, I was both hesitant and excited to crack open the cover and read what I had written. Turns out, it was a chronicle of my life as a seventh grader, which proved to be a pretty big year for me. I had written about holding hands with my first boyfriend, losing friends, making new ones, disliking math class (typical), getting ready for high school, etc. It was like looking at a snapshot of myself, a moment frozen in time, and that made me smile.

Sure, it was a little embarrassing, but it didn’t matter since I was the only one who (to my knowledge) read it. Growing up, there were years I kept up with writing and years I didn’t, but I picked it back up last November and I stand by my belief that journaling is beneficial for so many different reasons.

Often times, we are too caught up inside of our heads to actually break down everything that we have going on. The idea of having personal space within the pages of a notebook is a unique concept that allows for us to both tangibly capture moments in our lives and to keep them private.

As an avid self-love advocate, I can’t express how much journaling has helped me to get to know myself even better than I thought I already did! Being vulnerable to ourselves is an important part of understanding who we are, what we want to accomplish, and why we feel the way we do. Once you crack open the bindings of a new journal, all that stands in front of you a blank space full of imagination reflection. We have complete freedom to write whatever we want. Writing for ourselves helps us to work through the chaos in our minds, to just let it all out without worrying about proper grammar or rational logic.

Keeping a journal also helps us clarify our feelings. Even if we can’t admit something aloud, we can privately write it down. This also holds us accountable to ourselves. In addition, journals serve as reminders of our progress. It’s easy to feel like we aren’t accomplishing much day to day, but journaling allows us to look back and be quickly reminded of both our outward successes and personal growth.

When we’re living in the moment, sometimes we’re so engaged in absorbing what’s going on that we never actually allot the time in our busy schedules to reflect on the experiences that we’ve had. Journaling prompts us to really think about what we are gaining from experiences and what were getting out of life as a whole. Are we fulfilled? Are we passionate about what we’re doing? Are we reaching our full potential? All of these questions can be answered by putting pen to paper and working through our thoughts. Sometimes we can’t pinpoint what’s bothering us, or don’t even realize that we’re consumed by our worries. When our mental capacity threatens to exceed its limits, reflection encourages us to delve into the deepest parts of ourselves, and often leads to new ideas and creative ways of approaching whatever is troubling us.

Finally, journaling almost always leads to inspiration. When we empty ourselves onto the page and can see the contents of our heads and hearts laid out in front of us, we usually come away refreshed and feeling more capable and empowered to live the lives that we deserved. So give it a try; tear a corner out of your spiral notebook or buy yourself a nice moleskin or use the napkin under your coffee cup – just begin, wherever you are.

Featured Image by Laura Crowhurst

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