I started journaling regularly in 10th grade because I made a new friend who was carrying her journal around everywhere and she would jot down her thoughts and feelings in the middle of the lesson, or anywhere really. I was inspired to start doing that, too, and I started writing in a notebook every time I started feeling overwhelmed. It helped me tremendously and I would stick to that for a few years after. I stopped at 19 when things got a bit more out of hand and I was too tired to even write my own stories, let alone a journal. Also, I forgot to carry a notebook most of the time. The most of journalling I would do was on my note app on my phone.
Then I started CBT therapy. At first my therapist just gave me an assignment to jot down my mood throughout the day and why I was feeling the way I was feeling. By the end of the week, and by the end of each month, I’d have a chart-like overview of my lows and highs and whatever lifted me up or weighed me down. And I quickly found my way back to journalling again.
Today journaling is my most valuable method of processing through life. I’m so excited to share a lot more about how I approach it in this post, in the form of a Q&A.
What do you write about?
Most of it is just emotional processing, I get overwhelmed easily and jotting down my thoughts and feelings helps me tremendously. I found that I have to express myself to truly digest what is happening. Some of it is also stuff that happens day to day, just things that were meaningful that I want to remember.
How often do you journal?
Usually I write every day, though I regularly go through phases of journaling more and journaling less.
What if you don’t journal for a long time? Do you feel like you’ve failed?
No! I don’t keep count or anything and I don’t do huge recaps, either. (I probably would have done when I was younger, haha.) I jot down stuff out of order anyway and I ramble on and on without structure. It doesn’t really matter if I’ve stopped journalling for three months. I just keep going.
How do you stay consistent?
I only journal when I want to or when I feel like it.
“Who” do you write to?
I don’t write to anyone, I just start writing. It’s like I’m talking to myself and listening to myself at the same time. Most of the times I discuss my emotions on paper and it’s kind of like the two voices in my head talking to each other (the more rational side, and the utterly emotional and overthinking side).
Do you write on paper or digitally?
Mostly I’m on my phone or laptop and don’t have a notebook with me. So over time I’ve turned to my Notes app completely. When I have my iPad with me I’ll use the pen (I got it for illustrating but… you know) and jot things down that way. Saves paper, for sure, and I’ll have everything in one place.
What do you get out of journaling? How does it help you?
It’s really just about outbursts of emotions on paper/ digital paper for me. I dump my feelings on there, and I move on. Sometimes I read back. Sometimes I cross out toxic thoughts I have about myself. Sometimes I gather worries I want to talk about in therapy. It helps me calm down and take a step back and evaluate what the hell I’m even thinking. Sometimes, in the middle of writing, I get an epiphany and that is the best feeling to get.