Articles, Health, Mental Health, Writing

I Tried Journaling and Discovered A LOT. Detailed Day-by-Day

I’ve always been a person who enjoys writing, but I’ve never been someone who is good at keeping a normal journal that I update regularly. I wanted to challenge myself for a week to journal for about 30 minutes every night. On the nights I didn’t feel like journaling, I wanted to explore WHY. With positive effects like stress reduction, increasing memory, boosting mood, and aiding in emotional health, I just felt like I was missing out on something that might be really helpful for me. Read ahead for my experiences!

The Week


I journaled in the middle of the day when I was feeling stressed. I wrote down everything that came to mind that was giving me anxiety, with no regard to spelling, grammar, or style. My only goal was to get everything on the page. 

It felt a bit like meditation. I ended up coming up with a plan of what I wanted to accomplish and I immediately felt relieved once I had come up with steps to help solve the problems that I had control over. I also realized that there were certain issues that were out of my hands. This helped me to let go of many of my feelings of obligation towards those problems.


I journaled at night, allowing myself to reflect on the day I had. This allowed me to sleep better because I put my anxieties and hardships on paper and then shifted my perspective to something more positive. 

I let myself experience anxiety and grief right there on the page, and then I became grateful for what I did have. I went to bed feeling much better about a rather unfortunate situation I’ve been facing.


On Wednesday, I did my journaling early in the morning. This was nice because I was able to have a moment of quiet and calm before my busier day began. At this point, my journaling had established itself into a bit of a flow. I begin with an introduction about what’s going on in my life and I usually end my journaling session with a list to get my thoughts in order, organize my schedule, or to remind myself of positive things to feel better. Wednesday, I finished my journaling session with another gratitude list after coming in a bit uneasy about something that had just happened. I turned the situation from being something that was happening TO me into something that was happening FOR me, and I wrote about how thankful I was that this seemingly not so great thing was occurring. 

This is a side note but it’s honestly just one of those seasons of my life that’s simultaneously really good and really stressful, so a lot of processing has been going down (just a heads up in case you’re worried about me from reading this; I promise I’m okay)!

Thursday, Friday, and Saturday

I have to be honest here… I didn’t journal these three days. 

For the most part, it was because of my summer job. I work full time at a water park in my hometown and we are right in the midst of our grand opening for the season. I’ve been working from open to close every single day, and while I’m so grateful for my job… my body HURTS and I am EXHAUSTED at the end of these long shifts. I’m almost certain my work schedule will slow down after next week, but for now, it’s a little rough. I knew I would have a heavier load this week and I actually thought journaling would help more with that, but instead I’ve just felt a bit wiped out. 

Lesson Learned: Journaling is AMAZING for mental health, but it does require a little time and attention. Don’t sweat it if you just can’t for a day (or a few). Start again once you feel a little better.


I’ll admit, I had a lot more to say than I thought. 

I decided to rework my mornings to where I wake up a little bit earlier to get some of my personal tasks done before work so that I can relax more when I get home from the water park (because those shifts are already A LOT). 

After making my morning schedule, I let my thoughts take over once again. I decided to try something fun and act like a little kid with myself. 

AKA I played the “why” game. 

“Why was I feeling like this?”

“Why do I believe this about myself?”

And so on. 

In the end, I learned something new about myself all because I took the time to ask questions and really ponder the answers.


Overall, the biggest thing I think I took away from this experience is how little I know about myself. I think when we become wrapped up in our to-do lists, friends, family, and life in general, we don’t make enough time to look inward. Journaling forced me to put down my technology, go somewhere quiet, and just sit with myself, something I rarely do now that I have such instant access to virtual or real life communication with others. 

So, if you’ve ever wanted to get to know yourself on a level you didn’t think possible, to feel more organized, and to clear your head, pick up a piece of paper and a pen. Who knows what you’ll discover.

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Skylar Summers is a senior at the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She's passionate about empowering women through storytelling, writing, and creating visual media. To learn more about Skylar, visit her Instagram page @skylarsummers20 and watch her short films on her website (linked on her Instagram page)!

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