The Benefits of Journaling in Graduate School
Reflection and Critical Thought
Journaling, whether about your research, work, or personal life, can encourage you to reflect on problems or topics, engage with a topic and think critically about it, as well as encourage problem solving.
Stress and Well-Being
Graduate school can be stressful, but journaling can actually help with stress reduction. Journaling can reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety, improve your working memory, boost your mood, and help you work though tough issues. You can have one main journal where you write about your work and school things, as well as personal writing, or you can have two separate journals; it’s up to you, whatever works best. There is no one way to journal, so make it your own!
Improving Your Writing
Keeping a regular journal might also help you with your general writing practice. Journaling creates the habit of daily writing and getting words on the page, helping you hone that behavior. This can benefit you later on when you write your dissertation, since many students find it challenging to establish a regular writing habit. Think of it like exercise: the more you do it, the less difficult it gets, and the better you become.
If you’re unsure of where to start, check out Julia Cameron’s book The Artist’s Way. Don’t be intimidated by the title – it’s not just for artists! Her concept of “morning pages,” which are several pages that get written every morning about anything, has been shown to be helpful for people in all professions, with creativity, productivity, and creating a writing practice. Writing long-hand can be beneficial, especially for the memory benefits, but if you’re a person who strongly prefers doing everything electronically, there are plenty of journaling apps to check out, such as DayOne, Journey, and Daylio.
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