Hi! My name is Rebecca Jimenez Harden. I work here at TACID as our administrative coordinator but I also facilitate our weekly RolePlaying Peer Gaming Group at TACID.
I’m a big believer in doing lots of little things to make life better and easier. My fridge is a testament to this—pre-packaged snacks to make sure that everyone in my household is eating and eating healthy! Another little thing: I try to keep a stepstool in every room in my house, so when I need to reach something, I don’t have to look around for long. There are at least a hundred more examples but that’s a discussion for another day.
Today I’d like to share some tips about journaling. The benefits of journaling are well-documented and widely known. From decreasing stress, to raising general happiness, improving critical thinking, managing anxiety, and more—if you feel comfortable writing, journaling can be beneficial. If you’d like to learn more about the benefits, check out: 7 Health Benefits of Journaling and How to Do It Effectively
Where to begin? There’s a lot of information out there on how to journal. I’m here to give you some small tidbits that might help you to get started. Here are some tips that worked well for me—I hope they’ll help you, too!
- Journal what you want: I’ll be honest, my journals are not your typical journals. I’ve used the pretty over-priced notebooks, composition notebooks, paper stapled together, a phone and a computer— it all works! My entries vary a lot. One entry is six pages of a letter to my favorite teacher in elementary school. The next entry might be a few words about how much I dislike a certain food. Some of my entries are about my biggest and wildest dreams, while others are my deepest fears. Some entries don’t get to stay in my journal, they make their way to the trash, and that’s okay. Sometimes I just draw in my journal because words aren’t always enough. I have pages and pages of collage and vision boards.
- Set a journaling schedule: This can be anything you want and need. Two minutes a day, thirty seconds a day, an hour a week—work with yourself, not against. Personally, I like to write a few things sporadically throughout the day. In the morning I might write one detail from my dreams or one thing I want to do that day. In the afternoon, I write a quick check-in: How am I feeling? At night, I like to write my overall thoughts.
- Don’t worry about format: You can write a few words, draw a picture, type it up on your phone, or even write full length novellas and letters at night. One day you might type, the next day you might handwrite. The point is to get thoughts out. And don’t worry about grammar, this is for you- not a local editor.
- Don’t be hard on yourself: If sticking to a journaling schedule becomes a source of anxiety, it’s okay to pull back. Journaling can be wonderful but it’s important that it works for you. It’s okay to journal for one minute a day every day, or an hour once a week. Find what works for you without making you feel uncomfortable and then keep it up. If you journal every day for three months and then stop, it’s no biggie. Journaling is a tool that you’re always invited to return to, again and again, without judgment.
If you’d like to start journaling and would like some help, TACID has a peer group called Rambling Pens. They meet on Zoom every Wednesday at 3pm. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more.
To learn more about journaling for mental and behavioral health: Journaling for Mental Health – Health Encyclopedia – University of Rochester Medical Center