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Journaling can be a great way to express yourself, keep tabs on your progress, or even process trauma. If you're not sure where to start, this video should help!



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Oh! Excuse me!

I was just writing down a few things about my day here in my journal. You see, anyone can journal. Journaling can be a wonderful tool for all kinds of things, whether it's documenting your thoughts, tracking a health issue, processing trauma or just writing all about your crush on that cute barista at your favorite coffee shop.

Writing down your thoughts and then reading them later gives you an opportunity to see how your own thought process works. And since it's private, a journal can be the place to express thoughts and feelings that you don't feel comfortable sharing with others. Given how much personal privacy we often give away in this day and age, it can be really rewarding to find a place where you can express the thoughts that aren't appropriate for, say, a Facebook status update.

So! Let's get started. What you're journaling is up to you!

Journaling is used in all kinds of contexts, including keeping track of a new workout routine, or working through a life crisis, or recording mental health updates. Some people write about their creative process in making art or music. Some people keep “work diaries” recording mistakes and successes in their job.

And a lot of people also just grab a journal and write about whatever random thought they have or thing that happened in their day! Regardless of what you choose to write about, the benefits of journaling are well-documented when it comes to mental health and achieving goals. Journaling is effective because it prompts you to process your emotions as you convey them into written sentences.

Think of journaling as, like, a juicer for your feelings. You put a bunch of feelings in at one end and run it through the mill and then you get a wonderful distillation and clarity at the other end. Uh, let's not overthink that metaphor.

Moving on! When you sit down to write a journal entry, try to reflect on how your actions affected your feelings and vice versa. So instead of, for example, writing, “Dear

Diary: I felt stressed today. I ate too many doughnuts.” Instead, try something like, “Dear

Diary: Today I felt stressed out at work because of an upcoming deadline. I think that's why I ate too many doughnuts.” It might not seem like a big difference, but it will really help you make logical connections from your thoughts to your actions. Or, as Susan Sontag once wrote, a tad more eloquently, “In the journal I do not just express myself more openly than I could do to any person; I create myself. The journal is a vehicle for my sense of selfhood.” Deciding what material to use for your journal can be really important, because it should be something tactile that you enjoy.

Maybe that's a 99-cent college-ruled notebook and a sparkly gel pen. Or maybe it's a fancy leather-bound journal from a bookstore. I suggest going the old-fashioned pen and paper route because it's much less distracting than trying to write on your phone or laptop.

Notebooks also run much less risk of getting hacked into, if you have concerns about internet privacy. But if you'd like to go digital with your journal, there are some great online options. Evernote is a streamlined note-taking app with desktop and mobile versions.

Ommwriter is a writing app specifically designed to reduce distractions by offering a full-screen mode and soothing backgrounds and ambient sounds. Journaling can be a really nice thing to do at night before you go to bed, as a way to clear out all your thoughts and sleep easier. But hey, some people's brains work better at different times, and maybe it works better for you to spend a few minutes journaling in the morning while you drink a cup of coffee.

Mess around with it and see what fits best into your day. Write as much as you want to! But even a little bit can go a long way.

One UK study found that just 15-20 minutes of journaling on three to five occasions can help you process a difficult or traumatic event better than if you hadn't journaled about your feelings. A great thing about journaling is that it's completely a thing you do for yourself, and you get to decide how much journaling benefits you. Good luck with it!

Be sure to let us know in the comments if you've tried journaling and what other tips might be useful. And as always, thanks for joining us here at How to Adult. To see more of Hank and me, visit, and subscribe!

Uh... poop. There really isn't a big diff— [laughter]. Sorry, I could see your face smiling in the background. [off screen, laughing] Oh no!

Pss— And— [laughter]. Thing that happened in their day—. There's even a center— [mouth stretches] Alalalalala.

Sorry. [mouth stretches] Alalalalala. Logical ne—k—no. Bop.

But hey, some people's brains work better—. But hey, some people's works—bleh. Nope.

Not mine. Hmm?