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Journaling: A Hopeful, Helpful Habit

By: Mary Hogan

It has long been a secret dream of mine to leave behind something for future generations. Words of wisdom, a grand discovery, or perhaps simply an imprint of my life. Imagine, in a century or more, people reading a celebrated novel, “The Diary of Mary Hogan”.

Often, these dreams are fun to think about, but take actual work to achieve. In the case of writing a journal, I find the actual work is not only practically effortless, but also enjoyable to do! So, dear readers, I encourage you to think about beginning a journal because of its many benefits.

First of all, journaling is very fun and helpful. It has indeed been proven as an outlet to relieve stress. In 2013, a study revealed that expressive writing (a fancy way of saying journaling), can actually play a part in healing physical wounds quicker. Also, a paper published in 2003 presented the idea that keeping a gratitude journal can improve your mood. As you can clearly see, keeping a journal has real, tangible benefits. Writing in a journal means you actually have to take the time to write in a journal, which can be boring at times or seem pointless. However, another great benefit of keeping a journal is it’s flexibility and adaptability. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, you can always make time for it. You can journal every day, or just once a week. You can journal for a quick five minutes, or (if you have a lot of time on your hands) write for hours. You can write anywhere, and you don’t even need the internet - unless, of course, you are writing in an online journal. Also, if you are unsure as to what to write, have no fear, the opportunities are endless! You could simply write about your day, write about yourself (strengths, fears, experiences) or start a gratitude journal and write about some of your blessings in life. The latter has personally helped me, as it has allowed me to genuinely take the time to find something, anything in my life that I am thankful for, and reminds me of how much I really have. Additionally, as is common with all types of journaling, this practice is pleasant to look back on after a couple of years or months; it reminds me of what I was interested in at the time, or what I paid the most attention to as blessings.

Moreover, I find that writing is also a marvelous way to boost writing skills. Firstly, it causes you to write more, which acts as practice for any type of writing, whether that be a school essay, or a book you want to write. It allows you to organise your thoughts quicker and more effectively. For example, I will often find, as I am writing about my day in my journal, I will mention any upcoming school assignments, and while doing that, I will be brainstorming possible ideas, formats, and parts of the assignment. Furthermore, (if you are writing on pencil and paper), it can improve your long term memory. After all, who hasn’t had a teacher who insisted on writing your notes on paper to improve your memory.

Lastly, as I mentioned at the beginning of this blog post, journals can act as a keepsake, a time capsule of sorts, for the future generations. The example that always comes to my mind is the Diary of Anne Frank. Although we are not going to discuss what she endured, we are still battling a pandemic, which is sure to be looked back upon as a challenging and life changing moment in time. However, there are a couple similarities between the two times, such as the anxiety and uncertainty that we are all feeling, and the fact that we have to stay at home, just as Anne Frank had to stay in the secret annex.

As you can see, keeping a journal has many benefits, few drawbacks, and is a way to fill the ever-abundant time throughout this pandemic.

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