Many dealing with anxiety or depression (or just having a rough day) turn to eating, shopping or other indulgences to boost the good feelings and find a little comfort. If you’re just having a bad day, these habits might not be entirely condemning – but in the more extreme cases, these things can turn into hazards to your health. But whether you’re in need of a little pick-me-up or a deeper source of therapy, there are alternatives that ought to be considered for the sake of your health, and that can be extremely rewarding as well.
One of these is journaling. It doesn’t matter if you’re not a writer – no one is going to read it but you. It is merely a place to express yourself. When I first started journaling – even as a writer – it was a challenge for me. I didn’t know how I was supposed to go about it, and my first few entries only ended up boring me out of my mind. And then I realized: I was conforming to the text-book-answer sort of writing style, putting down facts, such as ‘today we did this, and went here, and I said this’ – just because I didn’t know how else to do it. It was one-dimensional and pointless.
But having a preconceived notion about how journaling ought to manifest is silly. There is no ‘how’ about it. I realized that if I actually wrote about thoughts and feelings rather than cold, mundane facts, I might get more out of it. And as soon as I put pen to paper with this new approach, a whole new world opened up. My feelings jumped at the chance to find a sympathetic ear. Before I knew it, my hand was clenched and aching and I had flurried through a good number of pages, just for a single entry. Now, my journals are known to fall apart when I’m through with them.
I found that when I wrote such, it was an amazing way to get something off my chest. It was a way get things arranged and sorted out, because you have to put it in some sort of order when you write it down, and it all seems to organize itself thus. Or, even if it doesn’t, if you go back and read it (a much swifter process than getting it all thought-out and written) you will see it all there laid out before you, and it becomes easy to sort through that way too.
I also found that things would come out of me that I never expected. That journal was such a vessel for my soul that I began learning about myself from it. One thought would lead to another, and as I laid out my issues, I would find new thoughts, approaches, and solutions voicing themselves in the sentences that followed. I would let loose and gush about something, and only later realize that what started as a mere frustration had turned into a whole essay of angles and dimensions. I learned so many things about myself that I never expected this way, and found great peace in the staunch, faithful confidante that was this book, always there to catch my feelings and build upon my thoughts.
There is no great secret to it. Vent to these pages as you would to a friend. Don’t worry about grammar and punctuation or if it follows the traditional ‘journal entry’ standards – whatever those are. It may seem like a chore to write down all the things you might prattle off to a friend a million miles a minute, but once you get into it you will likely find it very absorbing. And having to write it all out is a centering, calming experience, and will do wonders for shot nerves and frazzled patience.
This method was as good as a therapist for me – and it is always better to know you can address your own problems, rather than hire a professional. After all, professional in their field or not, how comfortable should we be investing in others being a professional about us? No one went to college and studied me.