Being on campus again feels like I have been transported back to my freshman year. Everything feels brand new. Just walking around campus, I find myself looking at a map to be sure that I know how to get to my Women and Gender Studies class in Gore Hall. And, just the other day, I had to have my roommates remind me that the Scrounge in Perkins is called the Den. I am learning to adjust to life on campus all over again, but this time, I am not the same person as I was freshman year. I am looking at this semester as a fresh start and a second attempt at my freshman year. It is all about new beginnings and new experiences, and with new beginnings, come new resolutions; this school year, I have decided to make a New Year’s resolution: I want to journal more.
First, for some background, I have been trying to get into journaling for a couple of years now, but I could never find a way to be consistent with it. I would maybe write an entry once or twice a week when I remembered, but more like once a month when life got busy. As Honors students, it feels as though we always have so much going on. There are so many deadlines, tasks, and projects to think about that our brains can feel like they cannot take any more information. My journaling became a way to help clear my busy mind as I unloaded my thoughts onto the page. There never was much planning that went into my journal entries. It was mainly just stream-of-consciousness, where I did not feel pressured to make sense out of what was written. This became a way to unwind when life got stressful or when I was anxious.
However, I soon found that my anxiety and mental health was not much better off than before journaling. I realized that this was because I would only journal when I was already stressed and anxious, rather than before as a way to help prevent these feelings from taking root. In order to form a healthy habit and to see improvements in my mental health, I needed to not only journal when I was anxious, but strive to do so each day to create a positive mindset and to prevent those anxious thoughts in the first place. This is how my New Year’s resolution came to be–to journal at the start of each day.
Now, I decided that in order to actually keep my resolution, I needed to not make such a big leap. I could not go from journaling maybe once a week to journaling every day, so my solution was to start by journaling five times a week, whether that was every weekday or including weekends. All that mattered was I was journaling consistently in the mornings. I must say, I definitely struggled with keeping my resolution in the beginning. There were some mornings I would begrudgingly open my journal and try to write something down. There would also be times when I did not know what to write about, but I would just write down “I have no idea what to write” and go from there. It was difficult to form this habit of journaling, but once I did, it just became a normal part of my morning routine. Now, I journal every day.
After about a month of consistently journaling in the mornings, I feel less anxious and more at ease. I believe making this New Year’s resolution and sticking with it has helped with transitioning back to campus life after so long away. I feel as though I can go through my junior year (or freshman year take two) with a healthier mindset and less anxiety. I also encourage my fellow Honors students to start making some resolutions for this semester and remembering to start small. You can make one at the start of each month or at the start of each week–whatever works for you. But be sure to make it one you can and want to keep. These resolutions do not need to be life-changing, but they can be a way to help get through the busy semester and keep working towards your goals.