When I became a college student six years ago, everyone had a piece of advice they wanted to share with me. Pay attention in class. Make friends. Color code your notes. Create a good relationship with your teachers. Do your best…the list goes on and on. Many of the things I heard stuck with me. I knew everyone had my best interest in mind and they wanted me to succeed. Those tips that helped me during my four years as a student, are the ones I carried with me into my professional life. That is why we must listen to the advice and suggestions those around us give us in times of change.
I do not remember exactly who, when, nor why, but someone I knew–I apologize I have forgotten their name or existence–mentioned how helpful it would be for me to keep a journal while I was in college. This was something I had practiced when I was much younger, but for one reason or another I had stopped writing in my journal…maybe because a lot of people called it childish, who knows. Nevertheless, this suggestion stuck with me and I decided to give it a try.
An article in The New York Times talked about “What’s All This About Journaling?" a few years back. The author mentioned journaling had “become a hallmark of the so-called care movement," yet she remarked how helpful this practice actually was. “Scientific studies have shown it to be essentially a panacea for modern life." This is due to the great benefits it has on our day-to-day life. It helps boost our mindfulness, memory, and communication skills while leading to sleep better, having a stronger immune system, improving our self-confidence, and promoting a higher IQ. All those things we so desperately need while in college.
However, I believe one of the greatest benefits journaling can provide is letting our feelings, emotions, and frustrations out. College represents the years in which we learn the most not only about the world, but about ourselves. Those are years of exploration in which we find ourselves facing many challenges and obstacles we never had before. Having a safe space to write down your thoughts and put into words things that you may not be able to voice, is something everyone should have. By deciding to keep a journal, you are choosing to deal with your emotions and your circumstances in a very mature way.
Where should you start? The obvious answer would be “by buying a journal," but there is no reason to actually buy one. You can write everything on your computer, your notebook, or even a random piece of paper. The main idea is to put into words what your life is like and what you are feeling. It does not matter how you do it as long as you take a few minutes of your day to focus on your thoughts and your wellbeing. This is definitely a self-care practice that will help you keep a clear mind.
As you begin your college career, everyone will have something to say. They will all pretend to know what is best for you, but in the end only you know that. Those around you–this article included–can only offer their personal experience for you to choose those tools, tips, and resources you believe will help your personal journey. My advice would be to keep a journal and see how it benefits you. During my journey, I needed a safe place to let everything out and my journal was it. Maybe you need one and your journal will be it.
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