Journaling as a Practice of Self-care and Self-improvement

Student Holding Pen

As we reach the point of the semester that is the root cause of headaches, hair-pulling, and occasional tears, it is good to find ways to take care of ourselves in the face of midterm season.  Some people find that exercise helps lower their stress; others prefer yoga and meditation.  I personally recommend journaling - and I'm not necessarily talking about "Dear Diary...", although such an opening isn't inappropriate. 

Writing aids you in collecting and organizing your thoughts - it concretizes the nebulous mass of thoughts that is always swirling about in our heads.  It gives us something to see: "Oh, that's what's on my mind."  It can be as simple as a to-do list when you feel you have so much work that you cannot decide what to prioritize.  It can be a free-writing exercise on a discouraging or heartening event that happened today.  It can be a reflection on an inspirational quote.  (These are all writing prompts, by the way, if you were wondering  what you should write.)

Not only is journaling useful as a calming practice, it is also effective as a tool for improvement.  As you get into the practice of casual writing, you will develop skills improving your academic writing: You'll be better able to craft long sentences, to find the word you're looking for, and to develop the unique style that breathes life to your papers.