Journaling taught me to love myself


My experience with self-reflection and how it benefited my mental health


I didn’t start journaling until the spring of 2021, at the end of my sophomore year. I had been dealing with intense mental stress, an injury in track, and simply the effects of the pandemic that had finally caught up to me. Life itself became extraordinarily overwhelming and I found myself just trying to hang on.

With this turn of events came immense frustration. I began to question how I arrived in this position. With the temporary, yet apparent, absence of track in my schedule, I started to question who I was without running.

I had many questions for myself, and there were numerous I couldn’t answer. My therapist, after noting my gradual shift toward unhealthy tendencies and mindsets, recommended I start journaling.

At first, I was quite inconsistent. Some nights I would tell myself I was too tired, when in reality I simply didn’t want to confront my tangled mess of emotions. But, as I gained consistency, noticeable changes followed.

Some people benefit from prompted journaling, but my entries would consist of anything that was on my mind. If I didn’t have blaring issues bothering me at the time, I would open by walking through my day. Sometimes I would stumble across subjects I didn’t even realize were creating internal conflicts.

I paid particular attention to the topics that rose up rather frequently and focused on repeating themes: how I was feeling, why I felt that way, and what needed to be done to solve the issue.

I found myself becoming much more self aware, and following that awareness came a higher self esteem. It became increasingly easier to understand what triggered certain reactions; I started to trust my intuition more. Every entry was a weight lifted off my shoulders.

Journaling was, and is, a huge factor in improving and maintaining my positive mental health. It came with huge reliefs as I allowed myself to leave certain stressors in the past. I adapted to my own way of learning and communicating and incorporated them into my life so I felt adequately represented. Overall, the understanding of myself has made me a happier and more complex person.

By building journaling into your routine, consistency will follow. When you’re first starting out, leave yourself reminders such as a notification on your phone or putting your journal in a place you’ll remember. The key to journaling is self-motivation and genuinely wanting to better yourself, so going in with a positive, open-to-growth mindset is arguably the only way you’ll be successful.