Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

A free and responsible press serving the UMass community since 1890

Massachusetts Daily Collegian

How to start journaling and stick to it

Consistency in this creative mindfulness exercise is key
Judith Gibson-Okunieff
Daily Collegian (2019).

Journaling can often seem daunting. Especially amidst the post-quarantine surge in bullet journal bloggers on social media, it might create the impression that journaling must be an aesthetically pleasing and time-consuming task, which is not usually feasible for a busy college student. But journaling can still be fun and helpful without all the hassle and added pressure. Here are some tips on how to start journaling, do so consistently and reap the benefits of it.

Numerous studies have demonstrated the positive impact of journaling on mental health. It is a form of mindfulness and reflection, which can help to foster a deeper understanding of your thoughts and emotions. According to Kevin Bennett Ph.D. from Psychology Today, journaling can also boost memory and reduce anxiety and depression.

So how does one begin journaling and really keep up with it? Is it possible to make it look cute on a budget? Fortunately, there are several different methods of journaling, and each cater to different preferences.

The easiest and most affordable way to start journaling is by doing it online. Whether simply writing in the Notes app or on a Google Doc, you’ll still be able to enjoy the benefits of journaling daily. If you want to step up from the Notes app, Notion can be an excellent website for online journaling. It has a very minimalistic layout that is fully customizable, and it is free to use. It also offers journal templates if you don’t know where to start.

If you’re looking for something more specific for journaling, there are plenty of apps meant for just that: Diary is a journaling app with a simple but sophisticated layout, and it even has a password for privacy. Journey is also a cute journaling app (also available as a website) that is customizable and has several free templates you can use.

If you would rather journal traditionally, there are plenty of methods to do that as well. First, you’ll need to find a notebook. It doesn’t have to be fancy — as long as it has pages, you’re set to start writing in it! If you want a cuter journal, though, there are plenty at stores like Barnes & Noble or Target, or you can look online. You can even find notebooks meant for journaling, such as those with prompts or gratitude questions in them.

As for the writing supplies, you can keep it simple with a pen or pencil, but if you want to add a little more, you can get colored markers or pens too. Want to add a nice calligraphy header but don’t know how? There are many easy tutorials online to start learning. If you’re feeling inspired by the bullet journaling bloggers, stickers or washi tape can help elevate your pages, which is one of my favorite parts of journaling. A great website for finding journaling supplies at an affordable price is Stationery Pal. The website always has a sale going on, and they throw in freebies with every order which is always a plus.

If you are journaling, don’t pressure yourself to make it pretty every time. The benefits come from the writing itself, so if you’re doing your best to make a habit of writing, you’re doing something amazing for yourself.

Regardless of the way you journal, there are several ways to approach the writing portion. One way is the brain-dump type of writing, where you write whatever comes to mind and try to keep writing without stopping, just to get everything out. This can be helpful if you are especially stressed. Another way is to write about your day and reflect on the day’s events. Again, it can be simple things, like one of your classes being more entertaining than usual or seeing your friend while walking to your dorm. It’s a nice way to learn to live in the present and appreciate the little things that bring you joy every day.

One more way is to write with more of an intentionally mindful approach by asking yourself questions about what you are grateful for today, what went right for you that day, what you could have done better or what you were proud of that day. There are so many questions, and you can pick the ones that you feel the most passionate about. The internet is also a great resource for finding more reflective questions.

So maybe you write for a day or two, which is great, but how do you stick with it for a long time? Set reminders at first; it takes about a month to form a habit, so until you get into the rhythm of incorporating your journaling into each day, it can be helpful to have something reminding you to do it. You can also set a specific time each day to journal, for example, right before you go to bed or in the dining hall when you get dinner. It can even be in the morning, which allows for a nice start to your day.

If journaling feels like too much work, you don’t have to write a lot — just try to write even one sentence for the day. You can also make a habit tracker, which can even be in the journal, to encourage yourself to journal consistently.

Journaling is something that you can do to better yourself, which is always something to work toward. It never hurts to start, and it can be simple to do, so there’s no reason not to try. Good luck to anyone starting and great job to those of you who are actively journaling daily!

Naomi Bloom can be reached at [email protected].

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