But what is journaling? I thought at first that it might be referring to keeping a diary and listing everything I’d done in the day… which sounds tedious and possibly quite dull too. But no, journaling just for some simple peace of mind is an entirely different exercise.
So, whilst the benefits of other mental health treatments can of course not be undermined, if you’re a student and money and time are both quite ‘tight’, why not start writing down your emotions? It does have recognised therapeutic benefits, and it is free.
Not only do many mental health charities and researchers recommend journaling, but I can vouch for it too (for whatever that counts). The theory goes that writing your thoughts and feelings on the page is like speaking to a therapist, in that you are letting your emotions out to someone who does not judge you and is not connected to you…well in this case, it is a piece of paper! There are numerous publications around how journaling reduces stress and can help deal with trauma (Baikie & Wilhelm 2005). The mere fact of verbalising our feelings and assigning them to a safe space is a first step to healing. Journaling uses the left side of our brains, known as the ‘analytical side’, while in the meantime, the more creative, right hand side of our brain is left to flourish and find the words to describe precisely how we feel, without inhibition, guilt or shame.
Whilst at first you may feel a little stupid and perhaps self-conscious when starting a journal, within a couple of sentences your mind will be off on a tangent of its own, and before you know it, your page will be covered in your thoughts.