Let me start by clarifying something: I’m a worrier. The sky is blue, my name is Natalia, and I’m always worried about something. I spend a lot of mental energy worrying about things that are dumb, really, and because I always thought about this ongoing stress as a personality trait, I never took steps to make it better.

This week, I tried to change that. I challenged myself to try and actually calm down. Shocking, I know. Every night before I went to sleep, I wrote about my day in a journal. There were absolutely no rules; I could write whatever I wanted.

Just like me, my thoughts aren’t ones to sit still for more than a few moments at a time, so allowing them to be dumped on a page was like a brand new start to the next day. It was liberating to be able to go about my daily life knowing that by the end of the day I could just “let it all out” or so to speak. Before, all the events that had happened throughout a simple day in my life were still floating around in my head, and I would still wake up day after day, stressed about something, anything. Now, I could make peace with my day, put it down on paper and move on to the next.

It’s important to note that in no way does this mean that I’m any less of a mess now than I was a week ago. Somehow though, I know that tonight, even after I stay up late doing tons of homework I put off, even after a day of ups and downs, no matter how big or small, I know I can just document them all in my little black journal, and tomorrow I can start fresh.

I know journaling isn’t for everyone. Just because writing helps me organize my muddled thoughts, this isn’t to say that it would be the same for everyone else. However, I found that there was so much benefit to my mental health in just taking a few moments of reflection in my day. I would recommend every college student to find their way of slowing down. As soon as I started doing this, I realized how much my daily life lacks a set routine, especially one having to do with reflection and time purely to myself.

Journaling every night was one of the most therapeutic things I’ve ever done, and by the end of this week, I’ve realized that journaling helps me see what’s important. Petty frustrations should only last me a day at most. When I write it down in my journal, I’m able to set it to rest and forget about it. I don’t mean memories of happy moments or hard moments that actually hurt, I mean all the stuff in between that really doesn’t matter at the end of the day. I want for those things that don’t matter to be over with and forgotten about after 24 hours. Everything is not the end of the world, so with this journal, I’m giving my unnecessary stress an expiration date.

In all honesty, journaling wasn’t as easy to do as I thought it would be. It takes a lot more discipline than I imagined. Throughout my week, I wanted to make it a point for journaling to be the last thing I did, so I wrote every night in my bed, when I was just about ready to go to sleep.

This was hard on the nights that I had already spent hours doing other assignments. Some nights I would be so tired that I would forget and have to wake myself up a few minutes later to write my entry for that day. It almost felt like an extra assignment on the nights that I was really sleepy, until I finished writing and realized it was worth the extra five minutes of staying awake.

When I open up the journal tonight, I’ll write about writing this column, how I’m worried that it’s not good, or people won’t like it, or think it’s dumb or whatever. When I’m done, those thoughts won’t consume my mind any longer. I’ll send this document to my editor and call it a night.

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