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How journaling can help you unwind and relax during the whirlwind of university life.

Entering the world of university can be a tumultuous experience that leaves you running for emotional shelter. Especially in first-year, when socialising is prioritised at the expense of me-time, stopping for a moment and jotting down your thoughts can be vastly beneficial.

Writing has become the tool I use to get to know myself. Similar to a therapy session, it allows me to sift through emotions and daily turbulences when they prove to be overwhelming, unearthing what feels like the root of a weed buried deep into my psyche. 

Journaling is a personal act which requires responsibility, honesty, and a patient acknowledgement of your emotional wellbeing. Even messy, unorganised, and unrelated paragraphs can award you with greater clarity and prevent your brain pipes from clogging. Think of it as like basic maintenance: tidying your room before it becomes messy enough to give you a bad case of anxiety.

So, how do you start? Writing is like running, it involves using a muscle, so writers need to build up stamina and jog through the initial awkwardness to finally find comfort in journaling. Not every run will be successful, and a couple will outright disappoint, but the more you work on your skills, the easier it will get. Here are some tips on how to get started:

Free write for 10 minutes a day. Let your stream of consciousness pour out of you to overcome the initial embarrassment and to learn how to write on cue. The usual recommendation is to write 750 words a day, but this can be a rather daunting task at university and may leave you unmotivated to continue, so set a daily goal with which you feel comfortable.

Carry your diary around with you, so that if you see an inspiring quote or need to vent your thoughts you can do so spontaneously.

Use a word generator when you're feeling uninspired. Pick up to three random words and challenge yourself by mixing together multiple writing topics and tracking how your style changes over time.

If you’re feeling alone in your struggle, try researching writing groups or going to poetry open mic nights for interesting prompts and ideas.

Forget your expectations and don’t pressure yourself into writing when it doesn’t feel right. Journaling will eventually become natural and instinctive, so allow yourself to experience that journey. 

Ultimately, go wild! Journal about that embarrassing one night stand, complain about your grumpy flatmate, reminisce about that terrible night out, write down the sexual fantasy that you’ve always kept secret, and take time to stop and confess to the church of you.


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