A crucial part of any girl’s life growing up during the early-mid 2000’s was the iconic secret diary. Probably pink, probably fuzzy, and definitely lacking in any real security measures to protect your sacred crushes from your older siblings.
I was dead set as a 9 year old to keep a consistent, daily log of the goings on in my life. Tragically, it would only last for a few days until I had to face the fact that my life truly wasn’t very interesting.
This happened probably 10-15 times growing up: I’d find a cute notebook at Claire’s or the Scholastic book fair and making the assumption that any good journal/diary had to be an account of my every day to day life. Get bored and abandon another journal with only a few used pages
It wasn’t until December 31st of 2016 when I resolved to keep a notebook for an entire year. I picked one up at TJ Maxx (upgrade from Claire’s obvi) and told myself I’d fill this notebook up completely.
I didn’t care how often I wrote in it, what I wrote in it, or anything else that I did: but I just had to use it when I needed it. I’ve kept up with it since then and no matter the frequency in which I use it, the journal is still a great resource for me and my mental health.
The biggest purpose of a mental health journal is to have a place to unload thoughts that are negative or positive, work through and collect your thoughts, and to free up mental energy so these thoughts don’t consume you.
It’s a practice that has been crucial through my struggles with mental health and I feel like everyone (journaling and cute notebooks are not gender exclusive) can benefit from having an outlet that isn’t another person, a completely judgement free zone.
If you’re feeling lost on where start, here are my top 3 suggestions in setting up and utilizing a journal:
1. Take the Pressure Off
Once I let go of the arbitrary expectations I had for myself with using a journal (frequency, readability, sentence structure), I was finally able to make it work for me.
Maybe you work better on a schedule, so set reminders in your phone at the end of a week or month to make sure you take some time to unload your thoughts. Or j.ust pick it up when you feel like writing
Your journal doesn’t need to only be for bad mental health days, use it to document good days and positive thoughts as well. Do what feels natural to you, it’s just you and a piece of paper: no one’s judging you.
2. Word Vomit
Get that shit out. Just start writing.
If you’re having a hard time getting started, begin writing a stream of consciousness and let that guide you. Journaling is a lot about intuition and doing what feels right, so get some words on a page and start from there.
You’re not here for a Pulitzer Prize. If you’ve got thoughts (negative or positive), get them out of your head and on to paper.
3. Make it #Cute
I found it much more enjoyable using a journal when I made it more personalized to myself.
My favorite thing to do is glue nice notes and cards from people as a way to remind myself of the love people share with me. I’ll also go through the pages and decorate them with stickers and colorful tape to make the pages cute, inspiring, or just more visually interesting.
It’ll help keep you most interested in writing if you have something to look at other that your own hand writing.
I also live for #aesthetics (I’m a libra, what can I say)
Here are some things you can add to your journal to make it more personal to you:
♥ pictures ♥
♥ notes from loved ones ♥
♥ quotes that speak to you ♥
♥ ticket stubs ♥
♥ art you find interesting ♥
♥ different color pens ♥
♥ Washi tape ♥
♥ stickers ♥
Go forth, my loves, and make beautiful spaces to organize thoughts that aren’t always as beautiful. You’re a work in progress and a journal is the space you map out the blue prints and make something extraordinary.
For resources on mental health; please visit Top 25 HelpLine Resources for a great list of different hotlines and services you can access and share with others.
Crisis Hotline Number: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Hotline Online Chat
If you or a loved one is in immediate danger, please call 911 or your area’s emergency services.