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Inside Beat

Dear diary: Journaling can lead to self-discovery

Journaling can be anything from exploring your emotions to simply writing about your day. – Photo by Content Pixie / Unsplash

I remember getting my first diary when I was 11 years old. I used to write about my daily adventures in hopes of my future biographer using excerpts from my entries. Cheesy, but what can I say? I was an ambitious kid.

Since then, writing has become my outlet. From silly "dear diary" entries during middle school to writing about my emotions every night, journaling has helped me heal through so much in my life. 

It can certainly be challenging at times. Often, you don't want to acknowledge everything you're feeling because it can make it seem all the more real, which can be hard to accept. It can sometimes seem easier not to feel the pain, anger and frustration, but eventually, it all adds up and takes up too much space in your mind and heart.

Journaling is a private experience. It creates a sanctuary for just you and your emotions. Expressing them through words on paper is almost like leaving that pain or sadness behind.

It allows you to reflect on what's happening in your life and to find answers. Journaling can be a challenging, deep and intrusive experience but can also be extremely liberating.

And don't just take my word for it — research has found that there is either a direct or indirect link between journaling and having a stronger immune system. Additionally, the activity has cognitive benefits, such as improved memory.

When we write about things that have happened in our day, it retrieves that memory from long-term storage, which increases the chances that you'll remember it. If you don't want a memory to fade, journaling is a great way to keep it in your mind for a long time.

Beyond its scientific benefits, journaling provides a space for you to express any old thought that comes into your head. It doesn't always have to be digging down into your deepest emotions.

In fact, many days, I do gratitude journaling to write down everything I'm grateful for. It helps me stay in touch with the present and acknowledge the privileges I have in my life. It could be something as simple as being thankful for my education or the relationships I've forged.

As a college student, the days can get jam-packed with classes and work, and at the end of the day, some time with myself is much needed — journaling provides me with exactly that. 

You might have seen people talking about journaling on social media or heard from your friends and how beneficial it can be. And if you're looking for a sign to start it, take it from me — you should.

It may feel a little awkward and silly or even difficult at first. But the more you do it, the more comfortable you'll feel, and you'll find the ability to see the beauty in it. It isn't always the most complicated activity, but it provides a stimulating journey into your inner psyche.

In the end, journaling is just you and your thoughts without judgment.

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