The power of keeping a journal

A journal I recently filled with memories, lessons, and my COVID-19 experience. Journaling has helped my mental health immensely and is something I will continue to do for years to come.

By Maiya Mahoney

Growing up, I’m sure we all kept a diary of some sort, tucked away where no one could find it as we wrote about our secret crushes, what happened on the playground, and soccer practice shenanigans. 

Well, at least I did. 

It probably felt good to scribble down all your thoughts and feelings. Even if it was as simple as writing about your day to day activities. 

When I was younger, I always saw my mom writing in a journal. She would share the detailed memories of my brother and I growing up and it was so fun to look back on those memories. 

This inspired me to want to document my life and keep the memories close. 

At the age of 16, I received a journal from my parents. Since then, I’ve kept several journals and even finished one just recently. 

Not only has journaling been a way for me to document my life, but it’s also been therapeutic; helping me through some of the hardest times.

Believe it or not, journaling is proven to be beneficial to those struggling with depression. According to Positive Psychology, keeping a journal can reduce or moderate depressive symptoms in individuals. People diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder have reported much lower depression scores after only writing 20 minutes per day for three days. While journaling can be an important outlet for many struggling, it’s vital to seek additional help if symptoms are serious.  

Personally, pouring out all my emotions onto the pages of my journal is better than keeping them bottled up. I have found journaling an effective way to sort through and process my thoughts, allowing myself to better understand how I’m feeling. Journaling helps in letting go of negative thoughts and refocusing on the positives.

According to psychologist Barbara Markway, “There’s simply no better way to learn about your thought processes than to write them down.” Keeping a journal helps one clear their mind and build self-awareness. 

While journaling is a great outlet for writing down your anxieties and struggles, it is also beneficial to journal with gratitude. On days that you are feeling happy, write down all those positive affirmations and feelings. On days that you are feeling sad, read about the moments you felt happy and content. It always makes me feel better.   

One of my favorite aspects about journaling is the ability to go back and read past journal entries. Not only are your memories in detail, but you can see how much you’ve grown. Writing during some of the most formative years of my life, I can read about the things I used to worry about and the struggles I went through. A lot of these things I no longer worry about and I have been able to overcome hard times. It is a reminder that all our worries are fleeting and it puts life into a different perspective.

Especially during these times of COVID-19, it can be easy to feel sadness and uncertainty. I have found myself journaling a lot more since quarantine. A journal that normally takes me 2-3 years to fill, only took me one year. 

One day, I’ll be able to look back on COVID-19 and my experience living through it. I will have it all written down; this time in my life and in history. 

If you do not keep a journal, hopefully you feel inspired to start one. You don’t have to write everyday, but maybe try starting out at least once a week. 

There is no right or wrong way in keeping a journal. Your journal is for you. Make it messy and personal. Write about where you are at this moment in time. Write about what you are grateful for. Write about what you had for breakfast this morning. Write about it all. Your mental health will benefit greatly from it and you’ll have memories to look back on years from now.  


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