One of the most effective ways to reduce stress with journaling is to write in detail about feelings and thoughts related to stressful events, as one would discuss topics in therapy, and brainstorm solutions, but there are several different ways to practice journaling.
Journaling is not just a little thing you do to pass the time, to write down your memories—though it can be—it’s a strategy that has helped brilliant, powerful and wise people become better at what they do.
Oscar Wilde, Susan Sontag, W.H. Auden, Queen Victoria, John Quincy Adams, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry David Thoreau, Virginia Woolf, Joan Didion, John Steinbeck, Sylvia Plath, Shawn Green, Mary Chestnut, Brian Koppelman, Anaïs Nin, Franz Kafka, Martina Navratilova, and Ben Franklin. All journalers—just to name a few. It was, for them and so many others, as Foucault said, a “weapon for spiritual combat.” A way to practice their principles, be creative and purge the mind of agitation. It was part of who they were. It made them who they were. It can make you better too.
Whether you’re brand new to the concept of journaling or you’ve journaled in the past and fallen out of practice, this ultimate guide to journaling will tell you everything you need to know to help you make journaling one of the best things you do in 2020 and beyond. You’ll learn not only how to journal, but also the about the benefits of journaling, the famous journaling of the past 2,000 years, the best journals to use, and more.
Journaling about traumatic events helps one process them by fully exploring and releasing the emotions involved, and by engaging both hemispheres of the brain in the process, allowing the experience to become fully integrated within one’s mind.
Journaling can also help you to focus on areas of your life that you like to focus on more often, as is the case with gratitude journaling or even coincidence journaling.
As for the health benefits of journaling, they've been scientifically proven. Research shows the following:
- Journaling decreases the symptoms of asthma, arthritis, and other health conditions.
- It improves cognitive functioning.1
- It can strengthen immune system response.
- It can counteract many of the negative effects of stress
According to a study conducted by Harvard Business School, participants who journaled at the end of the day had a 25% increase in performance when compared with a control group who did not journal. As the researchers conclude, “Our results reveal reflection to be a powerful mechanism behind learning, confirming the words of American philosopher, psychologist, and educational reformer John Dewey: ‘We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience.’”
Another Study by Cambridge University found journaling helps improve well-being after traumatic and stressful events. Participants asked to write about such events for 15–20 minutes resulted in improvements in both physical and psychological health.
Improved Communication Skills — A Stanford University study found the critical relationship between writing and speaking. Writing reflects clear thinking, and in turn, clear communication.
A study by The Journal of Social and Personal Relationships found that writing “focused on positive outcomes in negative situations” decreases emotional distress.
Improved Sleep —The Journal of Experimental Psychology found that journaling before bed decreases cognitive stimulus, rumination, and worry, allowing you to fall asleep faster.
Boosted Cognition — Research published to the Journal of Experimental Psychology found that reflective writing reduces intrusive and avoidant thoughts about negative events and improves working memory. These improvements in turn free up our cognitive resources for other mental activities, including our ability to cope more effectively with stress
1. Start Small
The writer James Clear talks a lot about the idea of “atomic habits”—a small act that makes an enormous difference in your life. It started with an idea he learned about habit formation from Leo Babatua. Leo’s advice to people who want to get in the habit of flossing daily? Start by flossing just one tooth a day. Or if you want to start exercising regularly: start with 1-2 minutes a day. Or if want to eat healthy: eat one vegetable a day. Or if you want to read more: read one page a day. “Of course, that seems so ridiculous most people laugh,” Leo says, “But I’m totally serious: if you start out exceedingly small, you won’t say no. You’ll feel crazy if you don’t do it. And so you’ll actually do it!”
That’s why my journaling routine starts with the One Line a Day Journal. Tim Ferriss similarly starts in the 5-Minute Journal, which “I use for prioritizing and gratitude,” Tim explained. “The 5MJ is simplicity itself and hits a lot of birds with one stone: Five minutes in the morning of answering a few prompts, and then five minutes in the evening doing the same…Think of it as my boot-up sequence for an optimal day. The rest varies wildly, but the first 60 to 90 minutes after waking are what I focus on most.”
Your journaling does not need to produce Nobel Prize-worthy prose. You don’t need to commit to a life practice right now. Start with one line—about how you are feeling, something you did yesterday, something you are excited about, someone you are thinking about. Start by doing it for one week. Start by writing a few things you are grateful for. Start with a sentence about the mindset you are going to attack the day with, about something interesting you learned in your reading yesterday, about your plans for the day. Whatever it is, start ridiculously small. You’ll know when you’re ready to build on it and write in more depth.
2. Track Something In Your Journal
Most people drop the journaling habit, or never begin, out of intimidation. The blank page is scary. Where do I even start? I have nothing important to say. Take the pressure off by creating an easy metric to track each day as the first line of your journal entry. After the One Line a Day Journal, in a black moleskine, I journal quickly yesterday’s workout (how far I ran or swam), what work I did, any notable occurrences, and some lines about what I am grateful for, what I want to get better at, and where I am succeeding.
James Clear records his pushups and reading habits. Nobel Prize winner Danny Kahneman suggests keeping track of the decisions you’ve made in your journal. Neuroscientist Dr. Tara Swart lists what she is grateful for and what she accomplished. Bestselling author and avid runner David Epstein tracks workouts and training goals. Tim Ferriss has recorded every workout he’s done since the age of 15. Bestselling author and artist Austin Kleon keeps a logbook — writing down each day a simple list of things that have occured. Who did he meet, what did he do, etc. Why? For the same reason many of us struggle with keeping a journal: “For one thing, I’m lazy. It’s easier to just list the events of the day than to craft them into a prose narrative. Any time I’ve tried to keep a journal, I ran out of steam pretty quick.”
You can track what time you woke up and how many hours of sleep you got. You can log everything you ate that day. You can record the tasks you accomplished at work yesterday. The point is to know exactly where to begin when you open to the blank page each day.
3. Use Your Journal to Prepare In the Morning
Despite his admitted struggles to get out of his warm, comfortable bed, Marcus Aurelius seems to have done his journaling first thing in the morning. From what we can gather, he would jot down notes about what he was likely to face in the day ahead. He talked about how frustrating people might be and how to forgive them, he talked about the temptations he would experience and how to resist them, he humbled himself by remembering how small we are in the grand scheme of things, and journaled on not letting the immense power he could wield that day corrupt him.
Who knows what kind of emperor, what kind of man, Marcus would have been without that preparation? Instead of letting racing thoughts run unchecked or leaving half-baked assumptions unquestioned, he forced himself to write and examine them. Putting his own thinking down on paper let him see it from a distance. It gave him objectivity that is so often missing when anxiety and fears and frustrations flood our minds. It let him enter his day and the important work calm and centered.
My morning journaling concludes in The Daily Stoic Journal where I prepare for the day ahead by meditating on a short prompt. Marcus said, “When you wake up in the morning, tell yourself: The people I deal with today will be meddling, ungrateful, arrogant, dishonest, jealous, and surly. They are like this because they can’t tell good from evil.” I think about all the things that I’m going to face in the day and how I want to be ready for them and how I want to respond to them. “A healthy mind should be prepared for anything,” Marcus was reminding himself.
What I am really doing with The Daily Stoic Journal is setting an intention or a goal for the day. Maybe it’s that I don’t want to lose my temper or my patience when I go talk to my neighbor about something that’s been bothering me. Maybe it’s that I want to make more time for stillness than I’ve been able to lately. Maybe it’s that I want to get the draft of an article finalized. It doesn’t need to be some lofty, earth-shattering goal. The point is to give myself something I can review at the end of the day–that I can actually evaluate myself against. More on that next.
4. Use Your Journal To Review Your Day In The Evening
Unlike Marcus, Seneca seemed to do most of his journaling and reflection in the evening. As he wrote, “When the light has been removed and my wife has fallen silent, aware of this habit that’s now mine, I examine my entire day and go back over what I’ve done and said, hiding nothing from myself, passing nothing by.” He would ask himself whether his actions had been just, what he could have done better, what habits he could curb, how he might improve himself. Winston Churchill was famously afraid of going to bed at the end of the day having not created, written or done anything that moved his life forward “Every night,” he wrote, “I try myself by Court Martial to see if I have done anything effective during the day. I don’t mean just pawing the ground, anyone can go through the motions, but something really effective.” That’s what the path to greatness requires. Self-awareness. Self-reflection.
It’s also what journaling is uniquely suited to help you do.
The founder of Linkedin, Reid Hoffman, jots down in his notebook things that he likes his mind to work on overnight. Similarly, chess prodigy and martial arts phenom Josh Waitzkin, has a similar process: “My journaling system is based around studying complexity. Reducing the complexity down to what is the most important question. Sleeping on it, and then waking up in the morning first thing and pre-input brainstorming on it. So I’m feeding my unconscious material to work on, releasing it completely, and then opening my mind and riffing on it.”
Dutch scientist Marije Elferink-Gemser studied the qualities that helps people get past performance plateaus and found that “Reflection is…a key factor in expert learning and refers to the extent to which individuals are able to appraise what they have learned and to integrate these experiences into future actions, thereby maximizing performance improvements.”
5. Copy Down Important Quotes In Your Journal
In Meditations, Marcus Aurelius twice quotes from the comedies of Aristophanes, the Athenian comic playwright. Half a dozen times, we see him quote the tragedies and plays of Euripides, as well as the teachings of Epictetus. He quotes the tragedian Sophocles’ Oedipus the King. He quotes philosophers Democritus, Epicurus, and Plato. He quotes the poets Empedocles, Pindar, and Menander. As author Steven Johnson said,
“Scholars, amateur scientists, aspiring men of letters—just about anyone with intellectual ambition…was likely to keep a commonplace book. In its most customary form, “common placing,” as it was called, involved transcribing interesting or inspirational passages from one’s reading, assembling a personalized encyclopedia of quotations.”
Petrarch kept one. Montaigne, Thomas Jefferson, Napoleon, Ronald Reagan, Charles Darwin, Mark Twain, Ludwig van Beethoven—they all kept a journal, a depository of quotes and anecdotes. According to his biographer, the author and columnist H.L. Mencken “methodically filled notebooks with incidents, recording straps of dialog and slang,” and favorite bits from newspaper columns he liked. Record what strikes you, quotes that motivate you, stories that inspire you for later use in your life, in your business, in your writing, in your speaking, or whatever it is that you do.
In his book, Old School, Tobias Wolf’s semi-autobiographical character takes the time to type out quotes and passages from great books to feel great writing come through him. I do this almost every weekend in a separate journal I call a “commonplace book” that is a collection of quotes, ideas, stories and facts that I want to keep for later. It’s made me a much better writer and a wiser person. I am not alone. In 2010, when the Reagan Presidential Library was undergoing renovation, a box labeled “RR’s desk” was discovered. Inside the box were the personal belongings Ronald Reagan kept in his office desk, including a number of black boxes containing 4×6 note cards filled with handwritten quotes, thoughts, stories, political aphorisms, and one-liners. They were separated by themes like “On the Nation,” “On Liberty.” “On War,” “On the People,” “The World,” “Humor,” and “On Character”. This was Ronald Reagan’s version of a commonplace book. Robert Greene, detailing his reading and notetaking process, writes: “When I read a book, I am looking for the essential elements in the work that can be used to create the strategies and stories that appear in my books…I then go back and put these important sections on notecards.” Lewis Carroll, Walt Whitman, Thomas Jefferson all kept their own version of a commonplace book.
6. Brainstorm Ideas In Your Journal
Ludwig van Beethoven was rarely seen without his notebook, not even when out to drinks with friends. One of his biographers, Wilhelm Von Lenz, wrote in 1855, “When Beethoven was enjoying a beer, he might suddenly pull out his notebook and write something in it. ‘Something just occurred to me,’ he would say, sticking it back into his pocket. The ideas that he tossed off separately, with only a few lines and points and without bar lines, are hieroglyphics that no one can decipher. Thus in these tiny notebooks he concealed a treasure of ideas.”
Pliny the Younger, a prominent lawyer and prolific writer in ancient Rome, was another to keep a notebook always at hand. In one letter to the eminent senator and historian Cornelius Tacitus, Pliny describes a morning hunting trip. “I was sitting by the hunting nets with writing materials by my side,” he writes, “thinking something out and making notes, so that even if I came home emptyhanded I should at least have my notebooks filled. Don’t look down on mental activity of this kind, for it is remarkable how one’s wits are sharpened by physical exercise; the mere fact of being alone in the depths of the woods in the silence necessary for hunting is a positive stimulus to thought. So next time you hunt yourself, follow my example and take your notebooks along with your lunch-basket and flask; you will find that Minerva walks the hills no less than Diana.”
Thomas Edison kept a notebook titled “Private Idea Book” in which he kept different ideas that popped into his head, possible inventions he’d later work on, such as “artificial silk” or “ink for the blind” or “platinum wire ice cutting machine.”
Entrepreneur and Bestselling author James Altucher carries with him a waiter’s pad and forces himself to come up with at least ten ideas per day. “Most people don’t realize this: The idea muscle is a real muscle,” says Altucher. “And it atrophies super quickly.”
Before Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species became a book that altered our understanding of biology, natural sciences, and several other disciplines of human knowledge, it was just a running list of thoughts, observations, and lessons learned throughout the day that Darwin recorded in his journals. Regardless of whether it was on index cards or in journals or a waiter’s pad—the Twains, the Darwins, the Beethovens of the world weren’t some innate geniuses. They were exercising their idea muscle every day.
7. The Bullet Journal Method
Epictetus uses the word ataraxia fourteen times in the Discourses and twice in the Enchiridion. Epictetus said it is the fruit of following philosophy. It means tranquility or freedom from disturbance by external things. It is the state of mind and being that the Stoics aspired to. It is a state free of clutter and chaos. And, it is a state of being that is never not hard to achieve, because each day presents plenty of opportunities to clutter or minds—responsibilities, the dysfunctional job that stresses you out, a contentious relationship, reality not agreeing with your expectations. We’re anxious, then we’re scared, then sad, then angry. Then we spiral. We lose control. Our problems compound. We drift further and further from ataraxia.
If only there were a tool to help us declutter our minds. Well, The Bullet Journal Method has helped thousands and thousands of people do just that. BuJo, as the loyal practitioners call it, has become known as the “KonMari for your racing thoughts.” The method was created by Brooklyn-based digital product designer and art director Ryder Carroll, who, after being diagnosed with ADD, committed years to figuring out a way to organize and sort information conducive to the workings of his scattered mind. As it turned out, the method he created is conducive to the workings of all our scattered minds. Carroll didn’t just create a journaling method. He created a movement. There’s blogs, social media accounts, YouTube channels, a subreddit community—all with massive followings and all dedicated entirely to BuJo.
So what is BuJo? Carroll calls it “a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system,” with only one goal: intentional living. “weeding out distractions and focusing your time and energy in pursuit of what’s truly meaningful, in both your work and your personal life. It’s about spending more time with what you care about, by working on fewer things.” “If you seek tranquillity,” Marcus Aurelius journaled, “do less.” And then he followed with some clarification. Not nothing, less. Do only what’s essential. “Which brings a double satisfaction,” he writes “to do less, better.” That’s the point of BuJO: to get a taste of that tranquillity Marcus was talking about and that ataraxia Epictetus was talking about, which is were proponents of it.
All you need to get started is a blank notebook. We do recommend watching the video below if you’re brand new to the BuJo system. But, ultimately, Carroll says, “The only thing that the bullet journal needs to be is effective, and how it can best serve its author is entirely up to them.”
1. You don’t have to keep a paper journal.
The usual advice is to write on paper because writing in cursive forces you to slow down and relieves stress. And though I still love writing a rough draft for a story on paper, I sometimes get on my laptop for everyday journaling.
The speed and ease of the keyboard sometimes works better. I type faster, I feel more productive and I’m less likely to censor myself and more likely to write stream of consciousness. Because it’s not much effort to type something out versus getting hand cramps from paper journaling.
The trick is to be self-aware. Try a few ways of keeping a journal and observe how it makes you feel. Do you obsess over your handwriting when you’re writing in a paper journal? Try downloading an app for gratitude journaling that will give you daily prompts you can simply type in. Are you more of a visual person who struggles with words? Start an art journal and express your emotions with daily sketches and doodles that incorporate some writing.
2. You don’t have to write first thing in the morning.
There’s been a lot of talk lately about Morning Pages – the practice of filling 3 sheets of A4 paper each morning with your stream of consciousness thoughts when your mind is still fresh.
Except my mind needs two cups of coffee before it wakes up – and even longer to formulate a decent thought. So I’ve been journaling at night, when the house is quiet and when no delivery man will interrupt my flow. And my writing flows better.
I do love Morning Pages, but there’s a myriad of ways to journal. The only way that’s right is whatever works best for you. Writing in the morning lets you plan out your day, reflect on how you’ll deal with any anticipated challenges or even jot down whatever you’re grateful for. Evenings, for their part, are great for reflecting back on your day, what you’d do differently and what’s on your to-do list for tomorrow.
3. Get some accountability.
There’s something very motivating about being in a group of like-minded people pursuing the same goal – even if you don’t consider yourself competitive.
Every November, I do NaNoWriMo – an annual writing challenge where people worldwide sign up and pledge to complete an entire novel in one month. I don’t write a novel every year (the rules are flexible) but I do use the challenge to pound out the recommended 1.6k words daily to hit that monthly goal. And I use that word count to write blog posts, short stories or daily rants.
There’s the sentimental factor when you do NaNoWriMo every year, but most importantly there’s the community. Strangers around the world and those soon to be friends who cheer you on. Famous and brilliant authors sending out pep talks on the NaNo website and talking about how much their first drafts always suck. There’s so much energy that you can’t help feeding on.
Last year, I met with a few women at a cafe in Cairo to write together and it inspired me to keep going, even though I’d been travelling and fell way behind on my target word count. It was so encouraging to log in and update my word count and see that line rise on the graph and know my new NaNo friends were cheering me on.
Form a local writer’s circle or find an existing one on Facebook. Google some online writing communities or just find a few like-minded friends to support each other on WhatsApp.
Get accountability. It’s a powerful tool. Whether that’s a writer’s group in real life, a challenge online or an app to keep track of your writing progress.
4. Start small and keep your expectations realistic.
Do you imagine yourself with a beautiful Moleskine, a Mona Lisa smile on your face as you fill up pages and pages of insightful prose that your grandchildren will treasure?
That’s not going to happen.
It’s key whenever you’re building a new habit to keep your expectations realistic.
Whenever I fail to take my own advice, I narrow down my goals into a single snippet that I can manage even on my worst days. When 10 minutes of meditation felt like too much and I had problems keeping still, I cut it down to 5 minutes. I also have short guided meditations for the days I’m too tired to go alone.
It doesn’t matter whether you write a single line or three pages – what matters in the beginning is that you form a habit. Make journaling a part of your daily life and anchor it to another habit – like your morning coffee or your evening washing up. And get that journaling in there until it becomes routine and automatic and until you’re no longer fighting with yourself about how badly or well you’re doing it.
Just do it, and then refine the how you do it later.
5. If you’ve got writer’s block, write about gratitude.
Writing about gratitude will lift your spirits and get your thoughts flowing again on the days you’re tired or filled with self-doubt.
This positive energy is downright invigorating.
And it doesn’t have to be complicated. Start with what’s in front of you – your laptop or journal, the balcony or the desk with your morning coffee. Then describe your emotions in detail. Instead of trying to fill up a page with all the things you’re grateful for, try focusing on a few and really let yourself feel the emotion of gratitude.
Gratitude journaling can be life-changing when it’s used in difficult situations or downright irritating relationships. Ask yourself, despite all the bad, what can you learn from a difficult day? What qualities do you admire in your partner – even if you don’t want to be around them right now?
6. Try a new environment.
Sitting out on the terrace at a cafe gives me something to write about and lets me forget the daily grind of my desk and laptop. A different setting gets my senses going and inspires thoughts.
If you’re feeling uninspired, then change your surroundings. Step out onto your balcony or grab a chair in your garden and journal from there. Take your journal to work and jot down a few lines on your lunch break. Pick it up in the evening and doodle as you watch TV.
There’s no right time and place for journaling – it’s about finding whatever works for you.
7. Schedule your journaling into your day.
Otherwise you might never make the time for it – and journaling whenever you’re in the mood and inspired is bound to fail.
Journaling lifts you when you’re not feeling in the mood and that means sometimes you just have to get on with it even when you’re feeling uninspired. And when you schedule journaling into your day, you’ll be less likely to make excuses or rely on sheer willpower alone.
8. Track your journaling habit.
We humans love to make a chain of habits and we hate to see it break.
I use a habit tracking app to mark off each day when I’ve journaled, even it if was just for 5 minutes. It’s so satisfying psychologically to see those marks add up to a streak. And on the days when I’m not in the mood to journal, I open it up just for 5 minutes for the sake of keeping that habit streak going.
Very often once I’m past those 5 minutes, I find myself wanting to keep going.
And that’s the beauty of journaling. It’s not about willpower but about forming a small daily habit that you’ll eventually think less about. Journaling becomes as routine as brushing your teeth.
9. Use different journaling techniques.
Keep your journaling interesting and spicy by using different journaling techniques. It doesn’t have to be the same old every day.
If you’re feeling overwhelmed at work, brainstorm some solutions to problems you’re facing and make a streamlined to-do list that puts your real priorities at the top.
Make your journal work for you. Let it be there in whatever capacity you need.
There are dozens of journaling techniques for almost any purpose and occasion. From writing an angry unsent letter when you need to vent to sketching out ideas for your next quilting project, a journal is your space for whatever you need.
A journal can help you plan your day or track your projects or hobbies. Fill it in with your favorite movie quotes, notes on recipes you’ve tried or reflections on how your children are growing up.
If you find yourself bored with journaling then shake things up and try something new.
10. Make your journal personal and messy.
Does the thought of writing in a spiralbound notebook bring back memories of dull work meetings that should have been emails? Or maybe a beautiful notebook seems like a shame to fill with your illegible cursive?
Your journal should feel like it’s yours and it should fit your personality. Maybe that’s a leather-bound notebook that you can whip out comfortably on a business flight. Or maybe that’s a worn cloth-bound notebook filled with painted daisies. Your journal should make you look forward to writing.
If you’re cracking open a new notebook and looking for an ice breaker, then fill that first, intimidating blank page with a favorite song lyric or inspirational quote.
11. Keep a journal handy in your bag.
When you’re stuck on the bus in traffic, just pull out your journal and jot down your thoughts or vent your anxieties.
An additional journal kept in your bag is useful whenever you’re in a waiting room, a traffic jam or any situation with time on your hands.
A journal can also be a great substitute for smart phone scrolling. Whenever you find yourself restless and reaching for your smartphone, pull out your journal instead. Sure it may be awkward during a dinner party, but a dentist’s office or bank are perfect settings for a journaling session.
When you’re on vacation, a travel journal can be an incredible tool to write down your sensations when they’re still fresh in your mind. Use a journal to plan your trip and keep track of any great restaurants you’ve tried or museums you’d love to revisit.
12. Make journaling a pleasure.
Journaling should be a pleasure and a treat – not a chore you knock off your daily list.
Invest in a fountain pen to make your writing flow like silk. Dab on some perfume before you start writing. Brew your favorite herbal tea infusion and settle back in a comfortable corner or turn on your favorite playlist.
You’ll begin to associate these little indulgences with journaling and they’ll make your writing time a real pleasure.
But don’t overthink it. Expecting the journaling process to be impossibly hygge will only disappoint when reality hits.
13. Analyze what isn’t working.
What do you hope to get from journaling? Do you want to manage your anger? Become a better sales manager? Get inspired for your child’s next birthday party?
Identify your goals and then look back at your journal to evaluate if you achieved what you wanted. Or try journaling about your journaling. Do you feel bored and dread that 15 minutes of writing, or do you look forward to it?
Be mindful of your emotions and how journaling is making you feel. Do you feel energized at the end of a journaling session, or just relief that it’s over?
how long should i journal each day
Being self-aware and analyzing your journaling habit helps you avoid what just isn’t working.
If journaling is not working for you and bringing you results, then it won’t be easy to maintain your daily journaling habit. Make time to look at what isn’t working and experiment to find what journaling technique works best.
Is it time to try a new technique or to switch from laptop to paper? Does journaling in the morning or evening work better for you? Be candid with yourself and make journaling work for your real life.
14. Use your journal for stress management.
Journaling has been called the most effective form of therapy – and it’s absolutely free, too.
Whenever you’re feeling frazzled, overwhelmed or just anxious, there’s nothing like pouring your frustrations out into a journal for some catharsis.
Once you fill up a page or two, you’ll gain some much-needed distance from your troubles. You’ll probably realize things aren’t as bad as they seem and you might even see that silver lining.
And once you’re done, let your entry sit for a few days and read it back later. You’ll begin to realize that your daily frustrations are rarely worth stressing over.
Journaling has many powerful benefits for your mental and physical health.
15. Write for your eyes only.
Journaling is wonderful therapy but it’s difficult to write honestly unless your journal is absolutely private.
When you write in hope (or fear) that others will read your words, it becomes harder to write truthfully and express your real emotions. You won’t write for self-awareness but to impress others or to prove a point.
16. Keep a list of journaling prompts for a speechless day.
Writing about a variety of topics and prompts keeps your journaling fresh and interesting. Keep a list of journaling prompts ready to go in your notebook or in a word doc for the days you’re at a loss for words.
Pinterest is a gold mine for journaling prompts for any mood and occasion. Create a board for your journaling and gather some prompts – or if you’re not on Pinterest then take some screenshots to have handy.
17. Don’t wallow or self-blame.
Journaling can be anything from a fun hobby to a form of meaningful therapy. But you won’t get much benefit if you only wallow in problems or constantly blame yourself.
It’s great to release those pent-up emotions in a journal and it’s helpful to have a rant. But eventually you’ll want to brainstorm about solutions or jot down some things you’re grateful for.
If your journaling gets dark and stays there, chances are it won’t help you grow.