Wasatch Savage: How journal-keeping will improve your life

When I was in the eighth grade, my best friend died. He was amazing. The best friend I’d ever had. I could trust him; he was always there for me. He was the epitome of loyal. His name was Bandit. He had four legs, a tail and a set of eyes so big a Bratz doll would be jealous. His life was cut short by the chrome bumper of an SUV. That SUV drove on with maybe a dent in its fender or a small spot of blood on its mudflap, unfazed by the magnitude of the event that left me begging for my best friend back.

The following weeks consisted of sadness entirely new to me. From a couple unanswered shouts of “Bandit, c’mere, bud!” in moments of blank thought to a few body-heaving cry sessions, I could not cope.

The thing that helped me through my hard time dealing with Bandit’s death was something my mother suggested. One night she suggested simply, “Write it down.” She told me to put how I was feeling in a journal. She said to remember how I felt about my dog when it was still heavy on my chest. So I did. I went through a flurry of pages. By putting pen to paper, I was able to memorialize my memories.

Everyone needs an outlet, and a journal is undoubtedly one of the easiest, most beneficial outlets available.

Keeping a journal offers an escape. By cutting off the world for 10-20 minutes a night and putting your thoughts on paper, you’re able to escape the world for a brief moment and detach yourself from worries.

Writing down your emotions has been proven to have a benefit of reducing stress. By putting your negative thoughts on paper, it allows you to leave it behind inside the pages of your journal after you close it and walk away.

So what you’re going to do is go home, finish your day just like normal, but when you’re just about ready to get into bed, grab a pen and notebook or your computer and just start writing about anything. It could be about your day, your goals, your problems, your life. Anything is free game.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. “But I already write so much at school. What makes you think I want to write at home?”

So, let me remind you what 10 quality minutes with a pen and paper can do for you. It can improve your psychological and physical health by helping to reduce stress. Journals help to strengthen relationships by allowing you to analyze situations and take a step back from what may be going on. Writing in a journal helps you to get to know yourself while enhancing creativity and intuition. One attribute, especially appealing to young adults, is the way journals allow you to analyze personal growth. You may lose 10 or 20 minutes of sleep or actually have to take a short break from your Netflix binge-watching session, but you’ll also get a grasp on today and a better understanding of what you want tomorrow. It’s almost like connecting dots. Your journal entry tonight will be a dot among many. It will connect to your journal entry tomorrow, and after a while you will start to have a better picture of the way your life is developing.
Lastly, and quite possibly my favorite part of journal-keeping, is the way it helps to memorialize life’s story. My mother had five kids. For each one of us, she kept a journal. She would write in it whenever something special happened, like first steps or birthdays. She gave the journals to us when we reached a certain level of maturity, and I was able to live those moments twice, thanks to her documenting my younger years.
So, if today you found yourself a little stressed, a little unorganized, a little upset or even just a little human, start your journal tonight.