And no, you don’t have to start it with “Dear Diary…” (though feel free).
When you enter a new culture, or return to a familiar one after being away, there is a lot going on in your brain – you might not even realise it. All the new, non-routine information is stimulating your mind and it can be quite tiring to process everything. In addition, some of it may be uncomfortable or trigger emotions you didn’t expect. You might even find yourself questioning – who am I? – as you are faced with the differences of another place.
All of this can be quite overwhelming. It can be a strain on your mental health, as well as lead to things like culture shock (or reverse culture shock).
Enter the journal.
|Image source: Unsplash, Hope House Press
Regularly writing in a journal is a great tool for processing your thoughts. It forces you to reflect on what is happening around you, in your daily life and in your mind. It’s a private space where you can be completely honest about what is happening for you.
Personally, I have sometimes been amazed at the lightbulb moments I have when I’ve just spilled all my thoughts and feelings onto paper. For example, I might suddenly realise how negative I’m being and force myself to write out a few things I’m thankful for. On occasion I’ve realised an event during the day triggered emotions from a past event. Or it can be as simple as increasing my awareness of how I’m different to someone else or how I react in certain situations.
It’s also nice to look back on your journal and remember events and memories, or see how you’ve grown 😊
Coming up next week – the How!