If you were like most teenagers growing up, you poured your heart and soul into the pages of your diary. Friendships gained, loves lost and horrifying secrets were all documented in your secret journal. Sure, looking back at the embarrassing poetry and drama may be entertaining, but you may glean something special about yourself that you didn’t realize then.
Writing regularly in a journal is actually a very therapeutic exercise, which is why so many mental health professionals continue to suggest their patients keep one. Some of the health benefits related to journaling include reduced stress, lower anxiety and a greater ability to deal with depression.
Though it has been some time since the heyday of online journals such as LiveJournal and Xanga, a personal journal that isn’t shared with others allows you more freedom to be honest with yourself. However, the act of keeping a regular journal may seem tedious. Some people feel they have nothing important to say, but having an interesting diary is not the point, especially if it’s for your eyes only.
A Quick Fix
Sometimes people simply feel too overwhelmed with their extremely busy schedules — American mothers are estimated to have only about thirty-six minutes of true free time a day — and would rather not think about their stressful day once they actually return home. This is where the one-sentence journal comes into play. This kind of journal is exactly what it sounds like — writing down a single sentence or phrase every day instead of a long, multi-page entry. It’s a new, minimalistic take on an age-old technique.
Limiting your day to one sentence challenges you to share the most important element or feeling you experience. You don’t have to use complete sentences, either. Sometimes phrases can be just as telling of what kind of day you had. The point is to be concise and describe your day’s feelings instead of just a long laundry list of events.
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If you’re at a loss for words for your one-sentence journal, consider describing your day through a line of lyrics from a specific song or a stanza from a poem. It could come from something you created yourself or a quote from another writer or artist. Sometimes the feeling you’ve attached to another writer’s work can be invoked in your sentence entry and is enough for you to understand upon later reading what kind of day you had.
Another benefit of having a one-sentence journal is spending your day trying to come up with your journal entry. While regular journal entries take time to put on paper, taking time to consider what you’d like to write down can lead to some interesting sentences. If you started off having a bad day but don’t want to write that in your journal, you may find yourself fighting against the negativity to turn your day around to write a winning entry.
If you’re not sure how to start this new journal technique, using a regular journal can be fine. There are also journals specifically designed so your one-sentence entries can be revisited throughout the years as you write new entries on the anniversaries of old. Being able to see what your life was like as you continue to add new entries is a great way to look back at where you were and how far you’ve come since then.
The one-sentence journal is a refreshing change to a proven method of introspection. If you are feeling like you’ve been missing opportunities to capture memories and feelings, but are too busy to keep a long journal, this may be a perfect option for you. It will force you to be creative and honest without losing the impact you will have from reading your past-self’s thoughts and feelings later.
So go out, grab a new journal and begin today! What single sentence will you choose to write for your very first entry?