For me, journaling is a lot like exercise. The longer I put it off, the more emotional weight I put on. But, when I finally just sit down and write out what I am feeling, the weight is lifted, or at least it begins to, and I feel so much better.
For some reason, talking about my problems has never been as relieving to me as the act of writing them out. Maybe that’s because in writing, there are no boundaries. There are no feelings that can be hurt or consequences for my words, because they are only for me.
I have kept journals since I was a child. At first, they started out in Lisa Frank notebooks and a Password Journal, in high school they moved to Word documents, and now they are back to notebooks (minus the Lisa Frank cover).
In my journals, I doodle. I keep magazine clippings. There are dried leaves between the pages. There are quotes from the greats and quotes from the Vampire Diaries TV show and every Sarah Dessen book written. There are letters that will never be sent. Letters to myself, past and present. There are sad stories, and there are happy ones.
I like to go back, read through them all, and see where I have been and what I have grown from since then. It is in these moments, I can recapture the joy of my first kiss or the loneliness of my first semester away from home.
The past week, things have seemed overwhelming as mid-semester hit, and it took me awhile to remember to just sit down and write. I wrote for a couple of pages, and when I was done, I was overcome with relief. It had been a month since my last journal entry, and I realized how much emotional baggage had built up since then.
When I was done, all the thoughts that had been nagging me were no longer bouncing around in my head. They were now captive in the pages of my journal, and they couldn’t bother me anymore.
As a runner, I like to say that running is my stress relief, and in a way, that is true. But while running can stave off the stress of everyday and remind me of my patience and my strength, journaling is the cure-all. Journaling is the cleanser for my emotions – it draws out the impurities, taking all the ickiness with it.
So for anyone who is struggling with a million ideas, thoughts, problems and feelings bouncing around in their head, try writing them down. It feels silly at first, writing what you already know and what you are thinking about constantly, but eventually things come out that you didn’t even realize you had in your head.
They may be ugly thoughts, unexpected ones, or angry ones, and that’s okay. Even some of our most powerful motivators aren’t always apparent even to ourselves until we think them through.
Tomorrow I am running my fifth half marathon. Wish me luck! Look for a Sunday post with my new e.l.f. goodies. :)