This is more of a personal post so prepare yourselves to get to know me a little better.
I have been journaling everyday for about 4 months now. It’s something I always wanted to start doing and did occasionally, but it never really stuck (read my last post about daily habits here). I had often heard lots of benefits about writing daily, but never engaged myself long enough to feel them.
Last term at uni was hard. My days were long, juggling full days at uni with a part-time job, and two shifts a week on reception at the yoga studio. My weekends were almost nonexistent, and on top of this the stresses and anticipation of dissertation, and general pressures of final year, were looming. I’m not in any way looking for sympathy here, my life is pretty much the same as it was then, but now I enjoy everyday and consider myself very lucky to be on the path I’m on – studying dance in London, practicing regular yoga for free and having a part-time job to fund the lovely little life I’ve created. Smiley Face.
But back to last term, I felt like it was dark and cold all that time and that I was losing love for everything. Crying was a near daily occurrence, and I struggled a lot with what I guess you could call anxiety, leaving me mentally and physically exhausted most days. (I would like to take a moment here to apologise to my housemates and my boyfriend – if any of you are reading this, thanks for being so great and putting up with my mood swings and freak outs, I love you all). I know I wasn’t alone in feeling like this, apparently 4 out of 5 students suffer with anxiety and/or depression. What’s more, apparently by 2020 anxiety and depression will be the leading/most common health problems in the world… (What is that about? There must be a serious flaw in the education system/the system in general for that to be a real statistic.)
I think its also important to mention that it was around this time that I started daily meditation, which was uncovering a lot of stuff – physical and emotional – that I had buried, and was probably causing all the crappy feelings. Eventually the meditation did help, but first you have to feel to heal (read about this here).
Anyway, one of my housemates bought me a really beautiful journal in early December and from there I made the decision to write in it everyday as an attempt to try and overcome the way I was feeling. At first I tried to write only positive things (what I was grateful for that day/lists of achievements etc), which was great at implementing some positive thinking into my life but wasn’t really addressing the way I was feeling. From here I started to write more poetically and expressively, addressing what was really going on internally.
It took a couple of months for me to really feel the effects of daily journaling, but now it is a solid part of my daily routine (maybe even my favourite part). Susan Sontag, writer, filmmaker, thinker and political activist, said that writing is a way of “tuning into the world around you”. It brings reality to your thoughts and feelings, making them easier to overcome. It also helps massively with problem solving, allowing the writer to achieve some inner clarity. I’ve heard it described before as quietening the pools of the mind in order to see the bottom.
Maud Purcell, a psychotherapist/expert in journalling, explains it perfectly:
“Writing accesses you’re the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational”…”While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”