Remember those old-fashioned, made-of-paper journals? Yes, the ones you will need a pen or pencil to write in. Well, no more computer screen. No more texting. Sharpen your pencil with your old kindergarten sharpener because if you want to keep your mind and body healthy, try writing.

The benefits are amazing. Imagine that when you speak to people in your everyday life you are improving your vocabulary; you’re more creative, more conscious, and best of all, you’re more relaxed.

By keeping a journal, you wake up your brain. Writing about whatever you want, whenever you want keeps you sharp and focused. Write a few pages every day! For myself, I love to write before I go to bed. I have a stream of ideas that I want to record from my busy day. What happened? What made me happy, sad, stressed out? I sit on my bed and word vomit all over my journal.

In fact, my best friend loves to wake up in the morning just to record her dreams. Think about the opportunities of becoming rich and famous by doing this. Does Twilight ring a bell? Stephanie Myer was inspired to create vampire Edward through a dream she had. Surprised? I’m not. Record your strange dreams! It’s awesomely therapeutic. And remember that you don’t have to be an award winning author to write a story. In fact, you don’t have to write it as a story at all. You can write in your journal however you like.

For example, over Christmas break I went on vacation and wrote, “January 15, 2014—— Guess what?! I’m sitting in the most beautiful log cabin in the Great Smoky Mountains! I woke up this morning to the sun pouring in the window, showcasing the misty mountains for miles. I can’t believe I’m actually here. I think I’m going to hop downstairs and make scrambled eggs with spinach and cheese. Yummmm…”

What good does keeping a journal do? Why do I do it? Fun fact about my life… I started journaling in fifth grade. Ever since then, I have recorded the most fascinating and mundane aspects of my budding youth. I talked mainly boys while in middle school, vented about frustrations/ worries/insecurities in high school, and now I write about what I plan and predict for my future. The best part about journaling is that it provides great means for self-exploration and reflection. Reflecting allows me to go back and see what used to be heavy on my shoulders and what I considered important. It’s refreshing to see the issues that I considered “so important” or “so intolerable” were actually only small stones to step over. I made it through all those difficult events in my life which now gives me hope for any kinds of obstacles in the future. In my life, I have problems of playing the pitiful-little-me card when things get rough, but looking back in my journals reminds me that I can make it through anything. This is especially useful for people who have terrible memories, such as myself.

And when you write by hand, your breathing automatically slows and regulates itself. You are literally forcing your body to become still and your thoughts no longer wander aimlessly. You might be amazed at what a few minutes of stillness can do to alleviate stress levels and your overall sense of well-being. Journals are a judge-free zone, so write all you want. You may even find that your best epiphanies happen either while you are writing or seven years later when you are re-reading some old journal entries.