How to Start Journaling

Written By JournalMethod  |  Journaling  |  0 Comments

Journaling has provided benefits and inspiration for people for thousands of years. Thoughtful journaling can help you to stay calm in difficult times and tune you into the things in your life you can be grateful for.

Journaling also has the ability to help you de-stress and give you a reality check about how hard you're working and how much you are achieving. It is an excellent way to reflect on what’s going well in life, but more importantly, what isn't so great at times. 

You'll find that when you write down all these thoughts, they become less overwhelming. This makes them easier to deal with as your life moves forward. 

Journaling helps you organize your , so you can better understand yourself and your relationships with others. It also helps you get rid of negative emotions like anger, jealousy, or resentment.
  • It helps you reflect on what’s going right and wrong in your life.
  • You learn to identify patterns that may lead to negative emotions like anxiety and depression.
  • Writing down thoughts and feelings allows them to become less overwhelming.
  •  It gives you an opportunity to express yourself creatively.
  • It provides a space where you can explore ideas without judgement.
  • It makes you feel good!
  • It keeps you accountable.

What is journaling?

Journaling is simply recording what’s happening in your life and in your thoughts on a regular basis. There are many different ways people choose to journal.

Some prefer to write down their thoughts or capture their dreams, while others will draw pictures or use other creative methods such as poetry.

Keeping a daily diary can be very beneficial for your mental health and well-being. Journaling helps you gain insight into the way you think about yourself and the situations you face in your life.

This process can help you identify patterns of thinking which could lead to negative feelings and behaviors. Identifying these patterns can make it easier to face and change them when needed.

One of the key reasons to record the events of your day-to-day life is to assist with personal development. By keeping track of the things that happen during each day, week, month or year, you can see how much progress has been made over time. This helps you to identify areas which need improvement, sort out your path forward and give you helpful insights about your life in general. 

Why you should consider journaling

Journaling helps you organize your thoughts and feelings, so you can better understand yourself and your relationships with others. It also helps you get rid of negative emotions like anger, jealousy, or resentment.

It can be used as an aid in therapy or self-help, gain clarity about your professional life, and sort out problems at home. It has also been proven to help with depression, anxiety, stress management, and more.

It's not easy to share your innermost secrets with anyone else. Journaling allows you to share your experiences without feeling judged or embarrassed. You can express yourself freely because you won't have a fear of being overheard or misjudged.

Journaling can help you out of a negative thought cycle. These repetitive thought patterns are not useful to your growth as a person. Developing a journaling habit can provide a valuable perspective on situations you struggle with.  

How to start your journaling practice

So, all you need is something to write on. You can purchase a snazzy journal, a notebook you have lying around, or a just a piece of paper you found in the drawer. The bottom line is you don’t need a fancy journal to write in, but you should have one place that’s dedicated only to your journal entries.

Now it's time to be clear on what you’re doing and when you’re going to do it. Give some thought about when you’d like to write, how long you’ll write for, and how often you’ll write. For some people it is a "get the day started on the right foot" daily habit.  Other people have great results by dedicating a short period of time at the start and end of the day.

Try different journaling approaches

There are widely different paths available. Some people dedicate 10 minutes and that's it. There is a "morning pages" method where you sit and handwrite three pages of notes and thoughts. This is a great idea if you don't work off any specific starting points or journaling prompts. Just bring your morning thought flow forward into your journal.   

You might consider expressive writing, which is a personal and emotional journaling style you do without regard to punctuation, verb agreement, or other technical aspects of writing. Some people create a dream journal as a way to capture bits of clarity from their dreams and gain insights their dreams can provide.  

These are just a few of the directions your journal can take and you can mix and match depending on your mood in the day. There is a strong case for making this a daily practice for the best results, but it's up to you. It can an everyday event or even just once a week. Be clear on your approach on this when you get started, then make a promise to yourself and get started.

Depending on your writing pace and how much you have to write, you may need to give yourself solid chunk of time to journal. A majority of people end up dedicating around 15-20 minutes of daily writing.

How to make journaling a daily habit

Find a comfortable and safe space where you feel at home. Start by writing down whatever’s on your mind. Be honest and don’t filter yourself or overthink it. Let your thoughts flow. Think about what’s on your mind right now. What feelings or topics are floating around?

Where is your mental focus and energy taking you? These are your internal prompts - write them  down. Don’t worry about grammar or spelling. You can clean them up and edit them later. this is a time to let your thoughts flow freely.

Make your journal a reflection of your inner thoughts. If you can’t think of anything to write about, you can create a gratitude journal entry, capture your latest achievements, and even capture new recipes you tried or expand your plans for the future. 

Key approaches to great journaling 

  • Schedule a minimum of ten minutes to journal - ideally around the same time each day. It could be in the morning, on your lunch break or before you go to bed so that it becomes a daily journaling habit over time.
  • If you start journaling and it doesn’t feel right, change up your writing style to create a journal that works for you. You might even include sketches, clippings and just about anything that reflects your thoughts. There are many ways to journal, so try something new if you feel stuck.
  • Keep track of your progress. How was your last journaling session? When you finish, take a few moments to reflect on what happened during the week. Look back at your entries and see which ones were most helpful. Which ones gave you the best insights?
  • Mindfulness writing can provide focus on how your body feels in the moment and where your thoughts go. As you write, you’ll lock into your struggles or successes, you can slowly improve your mental health because you’ll learn when it’s faltering and possibly relying on old bad habits.
  • The best benefit of journaling is the ability to reflect on your progress. At the end of every week, read through your past entries. Are there recurring themes or patterns? Has some thought or idea come into clear focus? Do you know what you need to do with these thoughts?
  • It’s easy to tell yourself that you don’t need to write some days. But there are rewards if you turn off your mental blocks and write according to the schedule you set at the beginning. Try journaling at least once every day for a week to lock in the habit in your schedule.

Your journal is for you, so find a practice that makes you feel relaxed, engaged, or mindful, and stick with it. Give yourself room to try new things in your journaling journey. This experience will help you to reflect and grow from the things you write about.

So get started today and get ready to enjoy every moment once you actually commit to start writing.

How often should I write in my journal?

Journaling needs to become a habit to provide the best results. It’s not a hobby you only do when you’re feeling happy or simply have the luxury of time.

It’s a habit you develop that you usually need most when you’re feeling anxious, hurried or just not in the mood. 

Journaling offers you a good way to check in with yourself. There are times in your life when you feel balanced and motivated – and you’ve got your priorities straight.

And other times you’re stressed and wonder what it’s all for.

But the value of journaling comes through when you stick with it through good times and bad.

There's also a benefit to writing versus typing. Doing this sends a message to yourself that this process is important enough to take the time to write it down. It is also simply a more personal and engaging process.

The frequency with which you want to record your experiences depends entirely on you. There really is no right answer here because everyone is unique.

Develop a regular journaling habit

You should start out with daily entries. After a few weeks, see whether you feel comfortable increasing or decreasing the amount of time between each entry. As long as you continue to enjoy and learn from it, you won't go wrong.

There really is no set rule regarding how frequently you should journal. However, there is a strong case for dedicating time every morning before work or school.

It depends on you really; some people find that they feel better when they write every single day while others prefer to wait until something happens before they record their thoughts.

It doesn’t matter whether you write a single line or three pages – what matters in the beginning is that you form a writing habit. Make journaling a part of your daily life and anchor it to another habit – like your morning coffee or before you brush your teeth in the evening. 

What topics should I include in my journal?

Everything and anything that comes into your mind is fair game for your journal. You could write down what’s happening around you, who gave you a call out of the blue, where you went over the weekend, or a problem that cropped up at work or school. 

It's important to allow yourself to journal freely without the fear of judgment. This is your story and your life. When you censor yourself, you reduce the impact that journaling can have in your life. It's essential to be honest and open to a variety of topics while writing in a journal, otherwise the benefit is reduced.

Use your journal as a way for checking in with yourself. Explore how you feel, the highlights and lowlights from your day and how you handled problems and opportunities that cropped up. 

Journaling can serve as a great tool to help you make sense of the things you have been facing in life. That said, there are going to be days where you feel like you have nothing to say in your journal. 

Explore New Areas with Journal Prompts 

When those days of low energy or creativity come along, it is valuable to take a look at some personal journal prompts to get you thinking and writing. You may be surprised what you will learn in the process. Some examples include:   

  • Who/what do I love today?
  • How am I feeling right now?
  • Who/what inspires me?
  • What am I thankful for today?
  • How did I spend my time this week/day?
  • Who was there for me?
  • What made me happy?
  • What would success look like today. 
  • What made me angry?
  • What would I change if I could?
  • What gives me hope?
  • What do I want out of life?
  • What do I dream about?
  • What do I believe?

Types of journals

There are many different ways to use a journal. Think about what might appeal to you and whether you'd like to do something more organized and focused, or something more creative.

That being said, each day is a different day and your journal should be a reflection of how you feel that day. There is no real need to be consistent in how your approach your journal entries. 

Some popular types of journals include:

  • A mix of mindfulness and creativity that's full of notes, to-do lists, reminders, and doodles.
  • You look to capture your nightly dreams as best you can and any thoughts on how you feel about them.
  • Jot down everything that makes you laugh throughout the day. Or take time each day to list several things that you're grateful for that happened that day or the day before.
  • Write or draw, scrapbook or ponder some aspect of your life.
  • Keep track of your goals, track your progress, and write inspirational notes to yourself to stay motivated.
  • Use images from magazines or photos and write thoughts about why you were drawn to them.
  • Create sketches to describe how you feel or what you're experiencing.

There is no wrong way to journal. 

Journaling Tips For Beginners 

Sometimes it's a good idea to forget the usual advice when you're struggling to journal daily. But here's the thing: journaling is a habit. It's not a hobby for when you're feeling great or have the luxury of time.

There's this strange and wonderful feeling that starts to occur when you write things down during a journaling session. They have a tendency to either become real (the good stuff) or simply drop out of sight (the not so good stuff). Start journaling and see for yourself.

It's a habit you develop that you actually need the most when you're feeling anxious, hurried or just not in the mood.

Journaling can also be a check-in tool. There are times when you feel balanced and motivated – and you've got your priorities straight.

And other times you're stressed and wonder what it's all for.

But the value of journaling comes through when you stick with it despite the ups and downs. Journaling can be anything from a fun hobby to a form of meaningful therapy. But you won’t get much benefit if you stay stuck in problem areas.

Be honest with yourself when you journal

Use your journal to to release those emotions in a positive way. Then, when the time is right, work on solutions or change gears and write down some things you’re grateful for. 

Do yourself a favor and give journaling a try and keep at it for a month. You'll be surprised what a difference it can make in your life. 

It's okay to include negative thoughts in a journal because nobody else will read them unless you want them to. Plus, it's better to get these negative ideas out of your head and leave them in place where they can't create mental anguish.

If you're struggling with negative thought patterns while journaling, finish up each entry by recording a couple of things you're grateful for. It's always good to create a balance.

It can be tough to be vulnerable with yourself. Writing it all down adds another layer to this because your words are in front of you.

Journaling will help you express yourself, think ideas through, help to clear a path to the future and create a record of your life. It's an adventure. Have fun.