What Journaling Can Do for You 

Sadie Blace, Reporter

Upon starting a new semester, emotions and numerous stressors flooded my mind. I now had an abundance of new concerns; I had to think about paying rent, buying groceries, getting good grades, work, my physical and mental health, and all the financial stressors that come with paying for school on your own. For lack of better terms, I was and still am stressed. It is safe to say that many of us may feel these pressures on a day-to-day basis. If you are like me, you sometimes struggle to find ways to find an outlet that works with your busy schedule. I often turn to exercise as an outlet for stress. While this is a great option to relieve stress, it may not always work depending on your schedule and extremely chilly weather. I have recently turned to journaling and have found that it has had a significant impact on my daily operations as a daughter, student, sister, friend, and coworker. It has caused me to reflect in ways that I never have before.   

I initially turned to journaling because I saw one of my close friends from my hometown with her journal open when we were spending time together one summer day. She had a smooth, leather notebook with a nice gel pen. She would keep it on her nightstand and journal while she drank her morning coffee. Though I thought the idea was a great one, I never thought that I would also find journaling to be one of the most beneficial outlets I have ever discovered. What I did not know at the time is that journaling would become a way for me to solidify and project my thoughts in a way that only I could see. While journaling usually takes the form of writing on paper, there are an abundance of ways to journal without sitting down for hours. For example, many individuals today are turning to more visual platforms to journal, such as vlogs or even TikTok’s, to document and talk about their days. Others may record updates of their lives in podcasts or on video recordings not meant to be shared with others. Journaling has the power to take multiple different forms to cater for what works best for you. Journaling is an open-ended, helpful practice that could change how you as a human perform, and the best part is you can do exactly what feels right to you.   

While journaling may be intriguing to you, you may be wondering, “where should I start?” Personally, I love to begin journaling by reflecting on where I want the practice to go. I may desire to journal about how to relieve stress, or even sort out my thoughts. When people initially think about journaling, they may think that you must sit down and take a large chunk of your day to write. This does hold some truth. Journaling, like anything else, takes commitment of time. However, like most things when it comes to mental or physical health, you get out what you put in. The amount of effort that you put into your journaling practice will come back to you one thousand-fold. When I journal, upon setting a goal for my journaling, I sit down and write how I am feeling, the plans I have for my day, and a couple of affirmations to repeat throughout the day. Though it may feel unusual at first, infusing affirmations within your day boosts the opportunity for positive self-talk, which in turn can boost your overall self-esteem. Positive self-talk is crucial for self-awareness and growth. This can be nurtured and enforced through the practice of journaling.   

Upon accomplishing my goal for journaling, I read it over, so I can engrave my visions in my mind for the day. The thing about journaling for me is that I never force myself to do it. Some days when I am stressed or flooded with emotions, I turn to journaling as an outlet. There are other days where journaling is the last thing I want to do, so I do not on those days. For me, part of having journaling as a positive self-help tool is honoring when I want and do not want to do it. The same may apply to you as you start your experience with journaling. Part of the self-help benefits of journaling is being more aware of how you feel. By acknowledging that it may or may not be a suitable time to journal, you are putting into practice tools that you can naturally uncover in journaling.   

Additionally, while my journaling practice fits what works for me, yours may be completely different for what you need. You can journal as frequently as you need, depending on what you want to achieve. I once had an individual tell me that the best way to solve a problem or work through an issue is to process it, whether it be verbally or on paper. While journaling is a great tool, it may be coupled with therapy or other services to improve how you work through problems effectively. UND’s University Counseling Center (UCC) offers completely private and free services to all UND students. Like journaling, UCC’s services are meant to help you improve in all areas. When coupled together, therapy and journaling are two practices that are incredibly helpful to grow one’s mental health. They are both free and confidential and can be great tools to improve quality of life and overall mental health.  

If you have ever given any thought to journaling, I encourage you to branch out and try with the start of 2023. Remember, no practice must be linear, and you are free to do what feels best for you. Branching out and beginning a new form of self-help is not always the easiest to do, but the benefits are incredible. Journaling will teach you to help manage stress, recognize patterns, formulate thoughts, ideas, sentences, and prayers. It is a practice that will most definitely change your life for the better. 


Sadie Blace is a Dakota Student General Reporter. She can be reached at [email protected].