Write it all down

How journaling can benefit mental health

As college students, we go through a lot. Whether that be family issues, friend issues, stress from classes, financial problems, or whatever else can spark up a college student’s worry, there is more than likely something on your plate. The feeling of becoming overwhelmed is a draining, dull emotion that many people go through in their lifetime. While college students experience this, they are not the only ones – single moms, overworked employees, children in unstable situations, and many more fight this emotional battle everyday. 

One going through a time like this, may not have the support they need to get through the exhausting emotions that surround them. There are options such as talking to friends, talking to family, or even going to therapy, but for some, those things are not an option. Not everyone battling deep emotions has people to go to or the money for certain resources. 

A simple and cheap method to attempt for the ones who need it, is journaling. Journaling is an alternative solution to ones that may not have access to other resources and is overall fairly easy. It is whatever you want it to be. You have control. 

“It’s simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to understand them more clearly. And if you struggle with stress, depression, or anxiety, keeping a journal can be a great idea. It can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health,” the University of Rochester Medical Center wrote on their website. 

There are no guidelines. The journal is there to contain whatever you feel you need to write down, whether that be something regarding happiness, sadness, anxiety, etc., the journal is your safe place. 

As there is no guideline to what the journal must contain, here are a few tips to help beginner journalists get started. 

“Try to write every day. Set aside a few minutes every day to write. This will help you to write in your journal regularly,” the Rochester Medical Center website says. 

This will help you begin to rely on your new book. It will become a habit to go to your book when you need help solving a problem, feeling an emotion, or expressing whatever feels fit. 

“Make it easy. Keep a pen and paper handy at all times. Then when you want to write down your thoughts, you can. You can also keep a journal on your smartphone. Write or draw whatever feels right. Your journal doesn’t need to follow any certain structure. It’s your own private place to discuss and create whatever you want to express your feelings. Let the words and ideas flow freely. Don’t worry about spelling mistakes or what other people might think,” the Rochester Medical Center website explains. 

This will become a place where you can feel free. You will have no need to worry about anyone else in the world because they are not there. It will just be your emotions, yourself, and your new book. 

Taking the opportunity to express one’s emotions through writing has many positive effects toward mental health. 

Anxiety- “Journaling has proven popular and effective for treating clients experiencing anxiety, possibly because of an improved acceptance of negative emotions and a more helpful emotional response to stress,” wrote Jeremy Sutton on PositivePsychology.com.

Depression- “Research suggests that expressive writing and gratitude journaling can reduce symptoms of depression, providing an effective intervention for clients receiving treatment in therapy,” Sutton continued.

Stress- “Journaling can support coping and reduce the impact of stressful events – potentially avoiding burnout and chronic anxiety. Studies link writing privately about stressful events and capturing thoughts and emotions on paper with decreased mental distress,” Sutton explained.

Reflection- “When stressed or consumed by negative thoughts, it’s difficult to view our situation objectively. Writing in a journal can help us create the space and distance needed to reflect on what has happened, where we are, and what is ahead,” Sutton said.

Recovery- “Research suggests that journaling, particularly expressive writing, can help those experiencing or recovering from the emotional trauma associated with PTSD. Other findings confirm journaling as a valuable and effective intervention for recovery from addiction,” Sutton wrote.

Not only can journaling have many effects on your emotional and mental state, it affects your life, body, and school as well. It was shown on a client self-report that it, “lowered blood pressure, improved lung and liver function, less time spent in hospital, better moods, improved psychological well being, fewer depressive and avoidance symptoms, reduced stress-related visits to the doctor, less work absenteeism, less time out of work following job loss, and higher student grade averages” were all experienced after taking on the act of journalism and writing down emotions, according to Jeremy Sutton.

If you are running out of options and feel as if you are about to hit the floor, go buy a tiny little book, decorate it how you wish, and begin to trust it. Maybe that trust will set you free. 

For more information regarding the benefits of journaling, make sure to go to www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1 or positivepsychology.com/benefits-of-journaling/#:~:text=Journaling%20can%20support%20coping%20and,paper%20with%20decreased%20mental%20distress.