Destress this season through journaling

How a pen and paper can make you feel better during tough times
Photo by Walt Stoneburner
A person writes in a journal

Whether it be writing down gratitudes or free-writing, many find comfort in putting pen to paper through journaling. 

Shilagh Mirgain, psychologist at UW Health, says she believes journaling can act as a form of self-care when tensions are high. 

“Journaling can be one of those things we can do to stay healthy. It’s an ancient practice dating back to the 10th century that we see a lot of people — authors, presidents, intellectuals, and even our preteen self might have done —and there are significant benefits to our mental and physical well-being,” she says. 

Referencing trends found by researchers like Martin Seligman and Richard Emmons, Mirgain says gratitude has been proven in a variety of studies to physically make people of all ages healthier and happier over time. This may mean writing down five things you’re grateful for each day.

“Many people will do that at the end of the day, and when they write those things down, it’s an opportunity to reflect on the reasons why they have it,” Mirgain says.

For those looking to get into journaling, Madison has a variety of local gift shops that offer journals to fit every personality, need and price range.

A Room of One’s Own
A Room of One’s Own carries its own selection of journals — from moleskin to spiral-bound. Prices range from $5 to $25 and include a theme for almost every interest. A Room of One’s Own is not open for in-person shopping because of the recent surge in coronavirus cases, but journals can be found online at

Little Luxuries
Little Luxuries sells a wide variety of gifts, including journals. Some ideas are the Five Minute Journal, the Create Your Own Calm journal, Find Your Spark journal and One Line a Day collections, all of which promote different interests and different ways of relieving stress. The collection can also be found online at

Madison Modern Market
Madison Modern Market sells a variety of feel-good items, including journals. Ranging from $16 to $20, the store carries multi-colored journals with gridded, dotted and blank pages for any kind of creativity. These journals also come in a variety of sizes and journals using tree-free paper are available for the more the environmentally-conscious shopper. The store can also be found online at

Orange Tree Imports
While Orange Tree Imports is known for its kitchen supplies, you can also find journals, which range from $9 to $15. These journals can be used for gratitude journaling and dream journaling. Shop online at
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