By Mehr Gupta

 

While I got excited over diaries here and there as a child, expressing my thoughts on paper is never something I really committed to until this school year. As a way to alleviate stress and unwind from the long day, I now journal every night. Filling pages with what I think and how I feel has not only increased my self-awareness, but helped me better regulate my emotions.

 

If you’re considering journaling, here are five ways you can start:

 

1. Analyze the present moment through your senses

Close your eyes. What do you hear? What do you smell? What do you feel? Now open them. What do you see?

 

Whether it’s through a mind map, drawing or just words, journaling is a great way to reflect on the present moment. It’s easy to feel upset over the past or anxious about the future, but taking some time to delve into the moment you’re currently living in is a great way to shift your focus to what is in your control.

 

2. Jot down the pits and peaks of your day

When people think of journaling, a detailed log about that day’s activities often comes to mind. Writing down everything can be time consuming or overbearing, so an alternative is listing a few “pits” and a few “peaks.” List around three of the days shortcomings, things you wish went differently, accompanied by three things you’re satisfied about.

 

3. Write down affirmations

Sometimes we don’t feel too great, and that’s OK. However, the more we repeat negative thoughts, the more likely it is to become reality. Even when you feel down, writing down what you can do to fix your problem can change your attitude greatly.

 

For example: Instead of writing, “I am a failure,” if you failed a test, change it to, “This is how I can do better next time.”

 

4. Practice gratitude

Some days are worse than others, and the bad days can make us feel like nothing is going right. Sometimes we need to remind ourselves of the things, big and small, that make us happy even in the darkest days. Start a list of things, people, events, food, music and whatever else you’re grateful for to look back at whenever you feel low.

 

5. Just write

If you don’t like any of these ideas, that’s OK. When it comes to journaling there shouldn’t be any rules. How you use the pages that comprise your journal is your decision, so take control and be creative!