It all started with a fluffy purple diary. I don’t remember who gave it to me, but I do remember that the lock designed to keep prying eyes out (those of my older sister, in my case) was flimsy at best. These days, I’ve graduated to a leather bound notebook (and officially have my pen license!), but the basics remain the same. Whenever I am stressed, anxious, or a painfully sassy combination of the two, my whole body manifests it. And promptly, too. My skin breaks out, my entire aura looks dull, and I struggle to sleep. For some, the effects of stress are more subtle and may creep up over time, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Previously lush locks can thin out, deeper lines may appear on your face, and it can trigger skin conditions that didn’t previously exist, like hormonal acne. Joy!

Journaling, for me, is more comforting than a deep breath, a morning sun salutation, and a warm, end-of-day bath combined. It’s cathartic AF, and ranks as highly as double cleansing does on my list of important daily rituals. If anyone was to ever actually read what is written in the deep, dark recesses of my journal (pls don’t), it would probably be a sweet mix of Bridget Jones-esque complaints and nonsensical ramblings—but that’s not the point. I’m not there to write a Pulitzer, I’m here to chill the flip out. Don’t be self-conscious about what you write. See it instead as a great way to detox your mind and cleanse your thoughts.

While those close to me refer to my diary as my Burn Book, it has truly helped me to calm an often anxious mind (and never at the expense of others, à la Regina George). Journaling isn’t going to solve all of your problems. You won’t become an enviable, zen pillar of mental health overnight, but it will help you take back control over your stress and anxiety levels, calming your skin in the process. The divine Joan Didion puts it far better than I ever could manage: “I write entirely to find out what I’m thinking, what I’m looking at, what I see, and what it means. What I want and what I fear.” And who knows? Maybe one day you will write that Pulitzer.

Words, Domonique Chevalley. Photography, Betsy Greaves.