This article is part of a running series with Rowan University’s Healthy Campus Initiatives. This collaboration aims to educate students about personal well-being options. For further updates, follow @RowanHCI on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.
Journaling has always been something of a joke to our society. We make it out to be something that only teenage girls with crushes and secrets should be doing. But truthfully, journaling, which can also be described as a form of “affect labeling” (putting words to emotion), has been shown to be a great emotional regulation technique, according to Dr. Marianna Pogosyan in her article “Put Your Feelings Into Words, You’ll Feel Better” (Pogosyan, 2021).
But what is emotional regulation, and why should it matter?
Understanding what you feel and being able to label it is a great way to make someone feel more in control of themselves, as well as in a seemingly impossible situation.
When a person can journal about a situation and express how they are feeling in a more controlled manner, they can be introspective on it later. Also, at the moment or directly after, journaling can help by being a distracter from the intensity of emotions. This is important because it can teach a person to act more rationally rather than acting on an impulse they might regret in the future.
Even outside of high-stress situations, journaling can be a very helpful tool. Not only can a journal be a place for one to keep their personal thoughts, it can also be an asset to any organizational tool box.
When journaling, typically people will discuss the highlights/events that have occurred over a span of time. When organizing, someone who journals can use the past information to find patterns in their life in order to help set up for future events or times to be flexible.
In almost all forms, journaling is a great idea. From writing down goals to working through stressful experiences, the act of writing things down can benefit our lives. And, while labeling is not something we should do all the time, affect labeling might just help us through some stressful times.
Sussex Publishers. (n.d.). Put your feelings into words, you’ll feel better. Psychology Today. Retrieved September 18, 2021, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/between-cultures/202109/put-your-feelings-words-youll-feel-better.
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Brianna Broadwater, sophomore psychology major from Bel Air, Maryland
Jack Maisonneuve, senior communication studies major