How Gen-Z finds clarity with pen and paper

Journaling has become a therapeutic way for Gen-Z to find solace. — AFP Relaxnews

On TikTok, the "journaling ideas" hashtag counts more than 400 million views. The secret diary or journal, which used to be carefully hidden from sight, has become a new ritual among Generation Z on this social media platform.

This trend for journaling involves writing down your thoughts and feelings on paper every day. It has become a new mental health haven for many social media users.

This return to pen and paper is surprising, with the advent of digital technology and smartphones. But with an uncluttered desk, a fountain pen, and a wide-ruled notebook, a whole aesthetic has emerged around journaling on the social network, as users share with the world a ritual that had long been an intimate, even secret activity.

Scrolling through the app, there appears to be a growing number of posts showing, most often, young women at their desks writing in their journals. Many offer tips to guide your approach to journal-writing.

For example, the TikTok user orendaduong, who has 170,000 followers, set herself a month-long challenge during which she answers an existential question every day. For many, journaling is a free source of therapy, where you can allow yourself to be vulnerable.

In the comments on one video, internet users share the positive effects of this ritual: "Journaling and crying got me through my first heartbreak and currently getting me through my second one."

Retro trend

This retro trend is not insignificant. TikTok often takes old concepts and modernises them. This time, the journal has come back in vogue with the advent of self-care on social networks, where taking care of oneself has become a central concept.

The journal is sometimes basic in appearance, or otherwise adorned with stickers, photos and mementos like receipts.

There are many ways to keep a journal. It can be a gratitude journal, where you write down all your accomplishments, your inspirations, your favourite foods, etc. But it can also be an expressive journal, where you write down your emotions, your traumas and your personal problems.

Then there's the "dream diary," where you write down your dreams when you wake up.

Speaking to Stylist magazine, Nicky Clinch, a maturation coach, mentor and author, believes that journaling is an effective way to help people better understand their emotions: "We have thousands of thoughts that go through our minds in a 24-hour period, and about 80% of them are negative. ... We can use journaling as a way to begin seeing and gain a deeper awareness of what’s going on inside our minds."

According to experts at the University of Rochester Medical Centre, journaling can help – among other things – to manage stress, reduce anxiety and cope with depression. It has also been shown that keeping a daily gratitude journal can improve sleep quality and mood, strengthen relationships with others and reduce symptoms of physical pain. – AFP Relaxnews

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