Every time I talk about mental health, I mention the importance of keeping a journal. Keeping a journal is a great tool for so many facets of life whether or not you deal with anxiety or depression. It’s a great assist in those arenas as well, but all things emotional and mental benefit from you keeping some sort of journal. Life benefits from you keeping a journal.

However any time you embark on something and you give it great weight, it’s very easy to become overwhelmed and not know where to start. Or some might feel juvenile or insecure about what they’re thinking and that’s only heightened when they put pen to paper. But I am always here to help the #SmartBrownGirl to overcome hurdles, so let’s bask in the ways you can start, maintain and benefit from keeping a journal. I promise…it is worth it. (I’ve linked to some of my journal entries that I have published & inspired the stores in my book, Send It On.)

1. Buy a journal that you like to write in.

You are free to scribble the notes of your mind where ever you so please. But to make journaling a beneficial habit, finding a notebook that makes you feel good when you open it is very important. I hate wide rule paper. I do like college rule. I do not like righting in normal size notebooks. I do like pocket-size notebooks. I do not like artsy note pads, with flowers and colors all over them. I do like leather bond and simple notebooks; they make me feel like a serious intellectual. So I have found the perfect fit with Moleskin leather bound notebooks. The paper really can make you feel good about yourself. Plus having something I can travel with, helps me to not fall off the journaling bandwagon.

2. Write whatever is on your mind without being concerned about others or yourself judging what you write about.

If your journal is full of your lamenting over a relationship(s), that’s fine. Don’t beat yourself up and then not journal because your worries are over your dating life. That’s a valid part of the emotional evolution of becoming a woman. You also might be content in most other areas of your life, and your emotional self is awakened and then bothered when someone else enters into that space. If that’s what’s on your mind, that is what is on your mind. Writing it out will help you better navigate that space and give you an opportunity to look back see patterns that need to be corrected and growth that will make you feel proud.

3. Do not worry about how you sound.

You do not need to be a poet or a wizard with words who’s stream of consciousness winds itself into a melodic prose once you sit down to write it out. Even if your journal makes it to the Diary of Anne Frank status, the glory of publishers and editors to finesse your words is a real thing. In the mean time, lets remove an arbitrary hang up from the equation and just write. If it’s full of four letters words where “shit ain’t right cause this asshole of fuckboy, got me feeling like….fuck!” then that’s just what it will be. Get it out of your system. If you’re writing a page of “I don’t know. I am lost” I. I. I. i. We all have thoseĀ moments, air it out in your private space – journal.

4. Be honest no matter how it makes you feel.

This is a moment for your to embrace your vulnerability. Work out those emotions you’ve been avoiding and be real with yourself. Because no matter how low you feel or how embarrassed you are, this is where you expel those emotions to give yourself the opportunity to work you way back up. This is your pick me up, but first you have to deal with what got you down in the first place. This is a judge free zone, so get it out and be honest.

5. If something is bothering you or you’re in a funk, force yourself to write.

When you need it the most is when you’re mostly to avoid doing it. And I am so very guilty of this. When I’m holding on to a bad feeling, soaking in my moment and expending a pity party past closing hours, I will put off writing in my journal. Because ugh…I just want to sulk. But as soon as I do it, as soon as I get out how I’m feeling and put it in my journal, I feel relieved — always without fail. So I have to make a forceful mental note to just do it.

Bonus Tip: Journaling doesn’t always have to be in the written form nor does it have to be daily. If you do it once a month in video or audio format…awesome. Fit it into your life in the best way that it benefits you.