I collect journals! I love the look and feel of them and know that they can be a beautiful reminder to encourage me to write out my thoughts, express my feelings, and plan my day, week, month, and life! There’s one catch: I want to journal. I know it would help me to be more introspective. But I haven’t found that perfect journal yet! So I started buying journals that struck my fancy with the intention of journaling.
Pretty soon I had amassed a collection of 30 journals, all staring at me, and it was causing me some anxiety. I spoke with my coach at the time and she offered me some invaluable advice. She said I have two options. I can either change the way I feel about the journal collection or I can write in the journals.
This simple sentence really applies to everything in life. You only have control over your actions and reactions. So I repurposed some of the journals and donated/gifted them. Others I keep and review occasionally to gauge my inspiration level for using it. Finally, in November 2018, I started using a simple lined notebook my husband gave me for our anniversary. It’s getting filled up fast and I can’t wait to move my pen to the other ones in my collection.
How to Start a Journal
So how do you start a journal? ? Start today and set an intention for your year. Write a bucket list. Doodle! Or you can do some intuitive journaling where you just set pen to paper and write until you run out of things to write. No judgment, no editing, just release.
Your journal can be a cathartic release, helping you to untangle daily stress or relieve pressure that has been building over a specific topic or situation. You get a chance to get creative, playing with words, or different color inkss. Even drawing if that’s your fancy!
While a lot of your journal preferences may depend on your goals, journaling shouldn’t be an effort or chore. There is no “right” way to journal, and that’s one of the best things about it. You can make it an expression of your thoughts, feelings, emotions, or just a recap of your day.
Most importantly, being able to journal gives you a place to reflect on your growth in your journey to a better version of you.
This is why I love journaling for self-care.
Jumpstart Your Journaling Practice:
- Set a timer: Limit it to 5 – 10 minutes, just long enough to get your first wave of thoughts down on paper. The idea of establishing a time limit helps focus your intention. Having a set time allows you to schedule it in your daily routine as well (rather than keeping it open-ended where the amount of time it may take is unknown). I highly recommend doing this at night before bed or first thing when you wake up. But if the only time you can journal is on your lunch break, then so be it!
- Use Paper and Pen Only: Sure you can type on your phone or laptop, but if you journal in a notebook it slows down the process and allows you to be fully present with your thoughts. The real touch involved with a pen to paper is also helpful, giving you a little screen-time break.
- Be Honest: Your journal is for you, and as such, there is no reason to fabricate larger than life stories, or embellish situations, or talk yourself out of things. Speak your truth to paper and use it as a safe space to process what’s going on in your life. There’s no judgment here. Your journal is a safe space where you can let it all out.
- Date your Journal Entries: This seems obvious, but some people don’t think to add a date to the top of their journal entries which makes it hard to look back and reflect on where you were at a specific time in your life.
- Schedule time to Review: Whether you do it once a year, or at the end of a month, make time to review some of your entries to see how your thinking and life have evolved.
How Journaling Can Help With Self-Care
There are as many reasons to use a journal in your self-care and health and wellness journey as there are types of journals to write in! Writing specifically allows you to tap into a creative side of your brain that is essential to healthy human function.
Writing out thoughts and feelings also allows you to solve your problems. You can even track some patterns in your behavior, your responses to stressors, and your insight into situations that are causing stress.
What Should You Write In a Journal?
Knowing what to write in a journal can be challenging and for some is often the hardest part.
Staring at a blank page where the choices are endless is intimidating! Just write something. There is no judgment here. And don’t stress if your first few entries feel “silly” or “wrong.” There is no wrong or right way in journaling. Be gentle with your process. Over time and practice, you’ll get used to knowing exactly what you need to write.
And if freewriting isn’t exactly your thing, don’t worry! We’ve got several journal ideas and even some prompts to help you on your way!
What is a Bullet Journal?
If lists are your thing, then a bullet journal may be right up your alley. Bullet journals help you “track the past, organize the present, and plan for the future.” They’re beautifully designed to-do lists that keep you focused on tracking essential events and details of your day.
What is a Gratitude Journal?
A gratitude journal is precisely as it sounds!
The focus is solely on things that you are grateful for. Studies show that the simple act of reflecting on things that you are thankful for can completely re-wire your brain!
Gratitude Journals also don’t need to be written in every day. You can do one entry per week, or per month if you want to! Although it’s recommended to try and do an entry every 3 – 5 days for optimal “rewiring.”
What is a Five Minute Journal?
The Five-minute journal is exactly what it sounds like. A guided journal with prompts designed to help you maintain your goals of journaling as part of a regular practice of your day. This one is the original five-minute journal although there are others available at urban outfitters and Amazon.
40 Journaling Prompts for 40 Days of Journaling
As it takes 30 days to make a habit, I’m providing you a full 40 days of journaling prompts (an extra ten just for good measure), to launch you on your journaling journey!
These can be practiced in either a bullet journal style or a more traditional journaling method. When you begin, I highly recommend setting a timer of at least five minutes and just writing as furiously as you can. Then as you settle into it, your timer will become less necessary.
You also don’t have to do these in any particular order (although sometimes it can be more interesting to force yourself to respond to one of the journal prompts).
What are you waiting for let’s get to writing!
- Write five things that make you happy
- Your top five favorite movies that you can rewatch over and over again (and why!)
- What is one thing you miss?
- Who is one person you miss and why?
- Three lessons you’d like to teach your children (or if you don’t have kids, three lessons you’d like to learn).
- Write a quick letter to someone from your past.
- What is a lesson that you learned the hard way?
- What is one physical goal you’d like to achieve in the next 40 days?
- What is one emotional goal you’d like to achieve in the next 40 days?
- What is one area of your life that you’d like to improve right now?
- What is one thing that you’re nailing right now (like really kicking ass at?)
- Top five places you’ve visited.
- Top five destinations you’d like to travel to.
- What are two things you’re struggling with right now?
- What is one memory that comes back time and again?
- Write about the “what if” situation that happened in your past, and what would have happened if you did something different.
- What is a cause that you feel passionately about?
- Write about three things that you are grateful for today.
- Write about three people you are grateful for today.
- Write about an injury you had in your past, and how it changed you.
- What is something that someone told you about yourself that you never forget?
- What is your to-do list today?
- What is one thing that makes you excited?
- What is something that makes you very sad?
- What is something that you’re afraid of?
- What is your favorite time of the day and why?
- When you close your eyes and are asked to picture a place, where is it. Write about it with as much detail as possible and what you love about it.
- What is your zodiac sign? Do you believe you are as that sign is described?
- Write about your first love.
- Write about your most recent heartbreak.
- Write the first five words that come to your mind. Search the fifth one on google. What is the 4th image that pops up? And what do you think about it?
- Do you have a favorite quote? Write it, and write why you love it. If you don’t have a favorite quote, write about why you might not.
- What is a personal gift that you possess?
- What made you happy today?
- What is the best meal you’ve ever eaten?
- What was your favorite thing that happened when you were ten years old?
- What’s one new thing you’d like to try (an activity, a food, a restaurant, a hairstyle, anything new!)
- What is one thing you learned about yourself last year?
- When do you feel most rested?
- What is one thing you’ve learned about yourself in the past 40 days?
Happy Journaling! If you liked this post can you please share it on Pinterest? Thanks so much!