Dear Diary,

I’ve thought about using a journal, but I just don’t know how to start. I don’t know what to write about, I don’t know how I’m supposed to write, and I feel like I have nothing important enough to write in here.

Bye for now,

This is what one of my journal entries may have looked like about a year ago. This entry includes some of the most common misconceived “guidelines” about journaling that I, too, thought were required in order to be a successful journal-er.  I believed it was necessary to have something specific to write about, I thought there was a format I needed to follow, and lastly, I thought it was absolutely crucial to begin any entry with “dear diary”. However, I eventually learned that while there was a lot I needed to rethink about journaling, this entry actually would be fine to write… And the reason why it’s fine is simple—a journal entry can be absolutely anything you make it.

Some people keep journals full of poetry, others current events and daily personal events, and still others have a compilation of anything and everything (which is where I fit in). Things I write about include attempted poetry, late-night “philosophical” thoughts, rants that I’d love to say aloud but know I can’t, and everything in between. Basically, if you’re thinking it, write it down. The primary reason I find it so awesome to have a journal is because while half of my thoughts might be worth expressing, perhaps I don’t know the right person to tell them to or I need a more immediate way of expressing them. Or, conversely, they might be super personal and the only place I feel comfortable mentioning them is in said journal. As long as you have a semi-secret location in which to store your journal, or you entirely trust everyone under your roof not to snoop, it’s guaranteed that these thoughts will remain purely your thoughts. Besides the reasons I’ve briefly mentioned as to why I use a journal, there are numerous other benefits.

1. A journal can help you reach your goals.

Though most people tell you that no dream is too big, dreams and goals are, nonetheless, a very personal thing. For this reason,

there’s no better place to write down your aspirations than in a place where no one will be able to see them. But as opposed to simply keeping the goals in the back of your mind, writing them down will make them seem more doable, and you can devise a step by step process as to how you can achieve them. Setting goals personally without the pressure from any one else is often the best way to accomplish these objectives.

2. Build and employ creativity.

I find that as a high schooler, I am not often given the opportunity to write creatively in my classes. However, within everyone lies some amount of creativity, and journaling is a great way to express and develop it. Whether you write a short, fictional story, or compose a poem abundant with figurative language and offbeat speech, you will be exercising a part of your brain that is usually not put to use.

3. Maintain positivity through past achievement.

A unique spin on journaling is to keep a journal full of your accomplishments. This can help boost your self esteem if you may be struggling with it, and it will also give you something optimistic to reminisce upon when you may be having a not-as-great day.

4. Better your mental health.

As I previously mentioned, writing about your emotions, good or bad, can relieve you of mental and even physical pain. In this study, 76% of patients who were medically biopsied and recovered in eleven days had written for 20 minutes a day for three weeks prior to getting the procedure. A different group of people who had the same procedure but had not written only had a recovery rate of 58%. So regardless of if your feelings are those of pain, and whether it be physical pain or not, writing truly has the ability to cause miracles and heal in a way you might not expect it to.

The primary benefit of journaling is the relaxed environment it generates which allows an escape to channel your thoughts and exercise your creativity. Keeping one is so simple, and all it involves is whatever spare time you decide to give it, and an open mind to trying something new. Remember that this journal will be a 100% judge-free zone, and no one will ever know what you write. So don’t worry about exploring or making a fool of yourself—that’s simply impossible!

Oh, and feel free to check out these super cool journals. They’re made from old books!

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