From endless to-do lists and overbooked schedules, to struggles finding stillness through busy days, going through the motions of life often seems like an uphill climb –overwhelming and tiring, barely catching breaths. In the midst of the chaos, finding solace in journaling is one of the ways to cope when the weight of the world gets overbearing.
A study conducted in 2006, published in the National Library of Medicine, revealed that writing in a journal is similarly effective to cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) as it can reduce risk of depression in young adults. Other research also points out that journalining about traumatic or difficult experiences can have a measurable impact on people’s overall well being.
Born out of the desire of helping people through the power of journaling, ‘Let it Out’ is Egypt’s first mental health guided journals seeking to make a difference in people’s overall well-being by enabling them to air out their thoughts and feelings.
Karla Meleka—the 22-year-old founder and creator of ‘Let it Out’—saw an opportunity to help people grow and evolve, and accordingly developed journals that come in different forms: the self-love kit, the 80-days of self-love journal, the mindfulness journal, and a special edition Ramadan kit. Meleka recounts that as a psychology undergraduate at the British University in Egypt, the idea came to her when she fully grasped the importance of the link between journaling and mental health , and how uncommon journalling is in Egypt.
“I started off by doing research on an array of topics to include in the journal. It took me months trying to figure out the best layout and flow for them, because I wanted the depth of the journals to produce the best possible outcomes,” explains Meleka.
One of Meleka’s goals was to de-stigmatize the use of journaling and mental health, which included practical and tangible means to improve their mental well-being. The American Psychological Association underlined that expressive writing can reduce intrusive and avoidant thoughts, leading to improved working memory.
“I wanted to develop guided journals as it is one of the most effective ways for practicing self expression. Unlike other ways of reaching people, journaling is the only tool that takes you on a personal day to day journey. It draws a map of your life that you can always go back to see the beauty of growth every single day,” Meleka notes.
After spending a year navigating and questioning the root causes of struggle faced by a generation of young adults, she wanted to address the importance of letting frustration out in the most effective ways. On her website, the three different journals are available, dedicated to different purposes.
In the ‘80-days of self-love journal,’ which costs EGP 250 (USD 13) individuals go on a 80-day journey of self exploration to meet their inner selves. The journal targets different categories such as emotional checkups, mental check ups, self-love, self-talk, and reflection sections.
Another journal is the ‘30-days of mindfulness’, costs EGP 200 (USD 11), which aims to help people comprehend how their feelings are formed and how to take hold of them as well. This journal is divided into four weeks that explore different areas, including a mind map, learning how to practice healthy self-talk, gratitude, and goal setting pages as well.
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Before the journals were brought to life in 2021, Meleka explains that she was challenged and undermined because many people did not understand the purpose of the journals. To most, Meleka explains, the journals are nothing more than a bunch of notes in a booklet-styled form. However, conjoining journaling and mental health was a top priority for Meleka, and raising awareness about mental health is what kept her diligent in executing her vision.
Creating ‘Let it Out’ was a learning curve for Meleka. She’d had the project in mind since high-school, but was only able to realize it lately. Not only has it been a rewarding experience seeing her idea come to life, but also seeing people warm up to the idea of journaling more and more each day.
“My goal is to make ‘Let it Out’ a place people can always go back to – a safe space that can help people release their stream of consciousness and emotions into concrete form,” Meleka adds.