Journaling is fast becoming the go-to self-help method today for most men and women. The impeccable benefits of daily journaling beat almost all other methods popular among mental wellness enthusiasts.
Staring journaling as a beginner is an easy task when you have the know-how. You need to purchase a notebook, select a journaling technique suitable for your specific situation, begin your journaling journey, and continuously keep it real.
Difficulty in sleeping, short attention span syndrome, and depression are a few common issues that can be alleviated through journaling. Starting a journal may come easy for a few. For the majority, however, a little guidance is needed. Here below is a step-by-step guide on how to start journaling.
Find a Notebook
A journaling book should be simple. Its pages can be ruled or come in form of plain paper. Feel free to get yourself an ornate, leather-bound notebook with a lock and key if that’s what suits your needs. But in the end, it’s all about having a place to confess what’s on your mind.
A lined notebook is better for journaling as it keeps you organized. Plain paper notebooks are excellent for when you plan to include stickers, drawings, or pictures inside. If you plan to carry your notebook in your pocket, backpack, or purse, find one that is small enough to fit.
Digital notebooks that support digital journaling also exist. In fact, they are more secure and easy to access on your phone, laptop, or other compatible devices. Be sure to save your journal entries in a password-protected folder. This keeps your thoughts and emotions private, should someone ever ask to use your computer.
Choose a Journaling Technique
There are many different journaling techniques you can lean on. The most common form is words written by pen and paper, but it doesn’t stop there. While writing is a technique that works best for most people, others prefer to express themselves differently. Voice notes, pictures, paper/magazine cutouts, sketches, and sticky notes are just some journaling techniques that might work for you.
The whole point of journaling is to express yourself. As a beginner, find the method that ignites inspiration and best accommodates your need to explore. Do not limit yourself, choose a method or two that best work for you.
Avoid Internal and External Judgment
Inner criticism and negative self-judgment are the number one hindrance against journaling. Wondering what others would think or say about your deepest thoughts makes journaling feel like a bad idea.
However, there’s no right or wrong way to journal. When you take time to journal, write for yourself, and don’t make up an imaginary audience. It’s just you and your feelings.
Avoid tolerating any kind of self-talk/thoughts. Journaling should be a safe and judgment-free space. Dismiss small issues like grammar, spelling, and practice self-compassion. Be as honest and authentic as possible.
Time for your First Entry
Your First entry is critical. It means that you’ve successfully faced your fears. Just remember to not put any pressure on yourself. It is also a great idea to make your journal as welcoming as possible. Decorate it with colors and imagery that really represent who you are as a person.
Date your Journal Entries
Dating each entry is a crucial part of maintaining a regular journal. It helps you track when and what you wrote about. Also, should you decide to look back and go through your journals you can tell how far you’ve come physically, mentally, and emotionally. It’s an epic way to jog your memory.
Also consider jotting down other notes about your day such as weather patterns, mood, and morning breakfast round-ups.
Maintain Realistic Expectations
Avoid setting a target for your journal. Write as little or as many words as you like in each entry. Don’t think much about it. Start writing and let thoughts trickle in. Avoid censoring yourself or lingering too much on thoughts and emotions that contribute nothing to your mental wellness.
Entertaining unreal expectations can cut short your journaling habit. The best thing you can do for yourself is to promise that you will journal every single day, but no boundaries about what that means exactly. Will you write one sentence or five pages? That’s up to how you feel.
Develop a Journaling Routine
It has been proven that journaling has profound positive effects on people who struggle with sleep, fatigue, and mental health issues. To get the most out of journaling, you must do it regularly.
Often, you feel motivated and inspired. But, on days you don’t feel like journaling, your routine forces you to make an entry. Set aside time every morning or evening to journal. For five, ten, or even thirty minutes, explore your emotions and truthfully express yourself in your journal. The more you stick to a routine, the easier it will be to keep your mind in check.
A successful journaling routine allows you to grow. Millions across the globe use journaling as a tool for relaxation, self-discovery, visualization, personal growth, and more.
Journaling Ideas For Beginners
Spoken-word, singing, art, and poetry are creative ways people choose to journal. Provided you get to express yourself, get as creative as you can.
Describe your thoughts using colorful words, paintings, or pictures. Here, the possibilities are endless. Some journaling topics you could explore include writing about;
- How your day was at work or when out with your friends.
- Unsaid words you should have told someone close to you that you can no longer access.
- Your emotions and write what inspires you.
- A list of things or people in your life you are grateful for.
- What brings you joy.
- What challenging situations you faced today.
Make journaling an outlet for anger, sadness, disappointment, grief, frustration, and other negative emotions.
40 Morning Journal Prompts
Morning journaling can be a great way to start your day with intention and reflection. Here are 40 morning journal prompts to inspire your writing:
- What am I grateful for today?
- Describe one positive thing about yesterday.
- What are my top priorities for today?
- How do I want to feel by the end of the day?
- List three things I love about myself.
- Reflect on a goal for this week and break it down into smaller tasks.
- Write a positive affirmation for the day.
- What inspired me recently, and how can I incorporate it into my day?
- Describe the kind of day I want to create for myself.
- Write about a challenge I anticipate today and how I will overcome it.
- What self-care activities will I prioritize today?
- List three things I’m looking forward to today.
- Reflect on a recent accomplishment and acknowledge my efforts.
- Write a letter to my future self about today’s aspirations.
- What would make today a successful day for me?
- Describe the ideal morning routine for a perfect start.
- Write down a mantra or phrase to carry with me throughout the day.
- How can I show kindness to myself and others today?
- Reflect on a book or article that has influenced me positively.
- List three small, achievable goals for today.
- Write about a habit I want to cultivate and how I’ll start today.
- What is a lesson I’ve learned recently, and how can I apply it today?
- Describe the type of energy I want to bring into my interactions today.
- Write about a person I appreciate and why.
- Reflect on a moment of joy or happiness from yesterday.
- What is a healthy habit I can incorporate into my morning routine?
- Write a short poem or haiku about the morning.
- List things that make me smile or bring me joy.
- Reflect on an obstacle I’ve overcome and what it taught me.
- Describe the weather and how it influences my mood today.
- Write about a dream or aspiration for the future.
- What can I do to make someone else’s day better?
- List three things I love about my current season of life.
- Reflect on a quote that resonates with me and why.
- Describe a moment of mindfulness or presence from yesterday.
- Write about a decision I’m proud of and the impact it had.
- How can I incorporate movement or exercise into my day?
- List three affirmations for confidence and self-belief.
- Reflect on a challenge as an opportunity for growth.
- Write a thank-you note to yourself for the positive things you’ve done.
Feel free to adapt these prompts to suit your personal preferences and goals for your morning journaling practice.
40 Evening Journal Prompts
Evening journaling can be a reflective practice, helping you unwind and process the events of the day. Here are 40 evening journal prompts:
- What are three highlights of my day?
- Describe a moment today that brought me peace.
- What challenged me today, and how did I overcome it?
- Write about a kindness someone showed me today.
- Reflect on one thing I learned today.
- How did I take care of myself today?
- Write about a decision I made today and its impact.
- What am I proud of accomplishing today?
- List three things I’m letting go of from today.
- Describe a moment when I felt gratitude today.
- Write about a goal I progressed toward today.
- Reflect on a conversation that stood out to me today.
- What inspired me today, and how can I carry it forward?
- Write about a challenge that taught me something valuable.
- Describe a moment of joy or laughter from today.
- How did I practice self-compassion today?
- Write about a skill or talent I used today.
- What is a positive habit I want to reinforce tomorrow?
- Reflect on a mistake and the lesson learned.
- Write a thank-you note to someone who made a difference today.
- What do I want to remember about today?
- List three things I’m grateful for right now.
- Reflect on a decision I’d like to approach differently next time.
- Describe a small victory that made today special.
- How did I connect with others today?
- Write about a moment of mindfulness or stillness.
- What do I need to release or forgive from today?
- Reflect on the emotions I experienced today.
- Write about something that brought me a sense of accomplishment.
- Describe the weather and its impact on my day.
- What was the most surprising thing about today?
- Write about a challenge that pushed me out of my comfort zone.
- How can I improve my evening routine for better sleep?
- Reflect on a goal I want to set for tomorrow.
- Write about a random act of kindness I witnessed or participated in.
- What did I learn about myself today?
- Describe a moment of gratitude for my body and health.
- Write about a decision that aligned with my values.
- Reflect on a quote or idea that resonated with me today.
- What is a positive intention I’m setting for tomorrow?
These prompts can help guide your evening reflections and foster a sense of closure and mindfulness before bedtime.
People often have various questions when they are considering starting a journal. Here are some common questions that people may have:
- Why should I start journaling?
- Journaling has many benefits, such as improving mental health, reducing stress, enhancing self-awareness, and capturing memories. Understanding the specific reasons you want to journal can help you stay motivated.
- What should I write about in my journal?
- There are no strict rules about what to write in a journal. You can write about your thoughts, feelings, daily experiences, goals, dreams, or anything else that comes to mind. Some people use prompts or themes to guide their entries.
- How often should I journal?
- The frequency of journaling is a personal choice. Some people prefer to write daily, while others may journal weekly or whenever needed. Consistency is key, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer.
- Do I need a special journal or can I use any notebook?
- You can use any notebook or journal that you feel comfortable with. Some prefer fancy journals, while others are content with a simple notebook. It’s about finding what works best for you.
- Should I write in the morning or at night?
- The best time to journal is subjective and depends on your preferences and schedule. Some find it beneficial to journal in the morning to set intentions for the day, while others prefer reflecting on their day before bedtime.
- What if I don’t know what to write?
- Writer’s block is common. You can start by describing your day, expressing your emotions, or using journaling prompts. Don’t worry about perfecting it; the goal is to get your thoughts down on paper.
- Is there a specific format for journaling?
- No, there’s no specific format. Journaling is a personal practice, and you can choose any style that suits you. Some people prefer free-flowing stream-of-consciousness writing, while others use bullet points or organized entries.
- Can I include drawings or other creative elements in my journal?
- Absolutely! Your journal is a personal space, and you can express yourself however you like. Adding drawings, doodles, or other creative elements can enhance your journaling experience.
- How can I make journaling a habit?
- Start small, set realistic goals, and choose a consistent time to journal. Make it enjoyable by incorporating elements you like, such as a favorite pen or a comfortable writing spot.
- Can I share my journal with others?
- Whether or not to share your journal is entirely up to you. Some people find sharing therapeutic, while others prefer keeping it private. Respect your own boundaries and comfort levels.
Remember, journaling is a personal journey, with no strict rules. Experiment with different approaches to find what works best for you.
Nothing beats the calming effects of journaling. But you have to make it a habit to reap maximum benefits. In the wake of increased emotional exhaustion and mental health problems, journaling is a doable, free-of-charge way to unload after a long day.
This method is an excellent way to gain clarity, unlock and experience the inner parts of you. It forces you to face and learn more about yourself. Manifest personal and professional progress by making a habit out of journaling today.