Views expressed in opinion columns are the author's own.
It's fairly obvious that, as an opinion columnist, I enjoy writing. Stringing words together to form a coherent argument is something that never leaves me unsatisfied. But as engaging as writing for The Diamondback is, I find nothing more therapeutic than journaling my thoughts at the end of the day.
Yes, I know college students already have a lot to juggle. With classes, internships and extracurriculars, most people are wary of adding yet another task to their to-do list. Nonetheless, I'm here to tell you how allocating a mere 10 minutes a day to journaling can transform the way you think, feel and express yourself.
Let me start by saying that I myself was not always so eager to journal. I thought that consistently taking time out of my day to write in a diary would take too much discipline. By the time I come home after a long day of classes and work, I instinctively go to laze on the couch and watch TV to relax. It was only after a good friend of mine persistently shared how much she loved journaling that I became curious enough to try it this summer.
To be frank, the beginning was a little tricky. At first, I tried writing my thoughts down in my journal at random times throughout the day when I was free, but this method didn't work for me. I ended up forgetting that I was trying to journal, and subsequently missed a day or two within my first week. So I decided I had to be more consistent if I was going to give this a real go, and set aside a scheduled 10 minutes before I went to bed for just my journal and me. Furthermore, I decided I didn't need to write meticulously detailed essays about my day that would tire me out. Instead, I started by briefly jotting down my thoughts about the things happening around me.
After sticking to my new rules, I felt that the magic of journaling was actually starting to work. Writing in my journal gave me time to decompress and separate my thoughts and feelings, which are usually caught up in the whirlwind of my hectic schedule. I'm not the only one who feels this way — the link between journaling and de-stressing has been scientifically proven. The part of the brain called the amygdala is responsible for identifying stressful and potentially dangerous environments. After establishing journaling as a regular habit, the amygdala adapts to the practice and "begins to register journaling as a safe zone for personal growth, healing, and reflection," psychiatrist Francisco Cruz explained to Forbes.
And if you think all this time writing in a diary will interfere with other things like schoolwork, have no fear — researchers published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology studied the correlation between expressive writing and improved memory.
Writing in a journal clears your mind by decreasing negative thoughts and leads to an improved ability to retain information. Thus, adopting this new habit could give your memory a boost the next time you're in the middle of an exam trying to remember what a professor said.
No one knows you like yourself. As cheesy as this may sound, journaling can help you learn more about yourself — or at least parts of yourself that you weren't aware of. Venting to a friend about a problem or sharing your thoughts and opinions with someone can of course be therapeutic as well. However, when it's just you and the pen and paper, you feel a sense of liberation because you are able to be your authentic self. So what are you waiting for? Find a journal and get to writing!
Asha Kodan is a rising junior biology major. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.