How To Start A Journaling Practice

Mary Joseph
Mary Joseph June 29, 2023
Updated 2023/06/29 at 4:04 PM
How To Start A Journaling Practice

How To Start A Journaling Practice

Did you realize that one of the most effective ways to improve yourself is easily accessible to you?

It’s not about exercising or maintaining good sleep habits, although those are beneficial practices. It’s something even simpler – learning the art of journaling.

Although journaling has existed for centuries, it is currently receiving a lot of attention. From self-help blogs to renowned figures like Deepak Chopra, everyone is discussing the profound advantages of embracing journaling.

Despite its recent surge in popularity, journaling is not merely a passing fad in the realm of self-help. When practised consistently, it has the potential to profoundly impact your mental and emotional well-being, as well as your physical health.

Now, let’s delve into the significance of keeping a journal and explore ways to integrate this influential habit into your daily routine.

Why Keep A Journal?

Journaling involves documenting your thoughts and emotions as you navigate through your daily life.

The remarkable aspect of journaling is its freedom from rigid rules or expectations. It is a profoundly personal experience that can manifest in various ways.

On one occasion, journaling may resemble a diary entry reminiscent of those you may have penned during your teenage years. On another day, it could be a compilation of things that bring you happiness or a list of aspirations you aim to accomplish.

By cultivating a habit of journaling, you can effectively process your emotions, particularly during times of anxiety or sadness. Additionally, it aids personal growth, self-awareness, and the acquisition of meaningful insights.

Cultivating a regular practice of writing in a journal can assist in processing and navigating one’s emotions, particularly during times of anxiety or sadness. Additionally, it has the potential to promote personal development, enhance self-awareness, and provide valuable insights.

Given these advantages, journaling is regarded as one of the most effective tools for self-improvement.

It should be noted that many accomplished individuals, such as Richard Branson, Warren Buffet, and Arianna Huffington, have consistently maintained journaling as a lifelong practice, highlighting its significance.

Different Types Of Journaling

Every individual possesses unique qualities. One person may choose to utilize their journal for introspection and analyzing their actions, whereas another person may prefer to record their daily routines and practices. Clearly understanding the purpose of your journal will guide you in determining the specific kind you should begin maintaining.

Daily Journaling:

This is a daily journal where you record your activities and emotions on a regular basis, as the name suggests. Unlike other forms of journaling, the emphasis here is on sharing your daily experiences and reflections.

This particular style of journaling can be beneficial for people going through significant life transitions or seeking to document a specific period of their life. It can also be advantageous for those embarking on a new job or career. Maintaining a daily journal provides a valuable record to reflect upon and observe personal growth over time. Additionally, it can serve as a reference point when life feels overwhelming and seems to be passing by too swiftly.

Visual Journaling:

When individuals consider beginning a journal, they often associate it with writing. However, visual journaling primarily involves utilizing images. Each entry employs drawings as a means to narrate your story. These drawings can range from basic line sketches and storyboards to comic strips or stylized sketches. It is worthwhile to explore various drawing styles to determine which one suits you best.

This form of journaling is particularly beneficial for those who either dislike writing or struggle to convey their thoughts through words. If you find language constraining and prefer a visual portrayal of your journal entries, visual journaling is an ideal option.

Free-Writing/Stream-Of-Consciousness Journaling:

Many authors employ free writing as a preliminary exercise before delving into their novels or other extensive written works. However, it can also serve as a valuable technique for initiating a journal. Through stream-of-consciousness journaling, you record your thoughts as they naturally flow in your mind. As your brain races ahead, your fingers may struggle to keep pace, but there’s no need to fret over handwriting or spelling mistakes.

The primary objective is to express the majority of your conscious thoughts, allowing you to unearth deeper ideas and perspectives. You can embark on this type of journaling with a specific intention or simply dive in without a predetermined destination, observing where the process leads you.

Gratitude Journaling:

Research indicates that there is a strong connection between gratitude and happiness. Cultivating gratitude and engaging in a regular gratitude routine have been proven to enhance interpersonal connections and foster increased personal strength. Therefore, incorporating a gratitude journal into your daily routine can be extremely advantageous.

Even the simple act of including a few bullet points expressing appreciation for things or individuals in your existing journal can yield positive outcomes.

There are various ways to structure your gratitude journal. You can opt to create a list of things you are grateful for, integrate them into a longer journal entry, or format them as concise thank-you notes. Subsequently, you have the choice to keep these entries private or share them with others.

Bullet Journaling:

If you’ve come across a bullet journal and are unsure of its purpose, it’s essentially a journal with dotted pages instead of regular lines, offering guidance for your entries. Bullet journals are incredibly adaptable, allowing you to personalize them according to your preferences.

They can serve as a tracking tool for various aspects of your life, ranging from your emotions to your physical activity, or you can dedicate a page as an agenda with bullet points for reflections like “highlight of my day” or “my goal for today.” Additionally, you have the freedom to express your creativity by incorporating different colours and materials to design your journal entries exactly as you desire.

Importance Of Jornaling:

Enhances Mental Health:

A viable approach to navigate through challenging periods characterized by strong emotions and uncertainty is to discover a constructive channel to express them, such as maintaining a journal. Engaging in journaling has been scientifically validated to yield beneficial outcomes for mental well-being by mitigating the impact of anxiety and depression.

Increases Immunity And Speed Of Recovery:

You’ve probably come across the saying, “Having an apple every day prevents the need to see a doctor.” Surprisingly, journaling can produce similar benefits. Not only is there a connection between journaling and reduced health issues over time, but it also facilitates faster healing. An additional research study discovered that expressive writing contributed to accelerated wound recovery in elderly individuals.

Allows For The Expression Of Gratitude:

Expressing gratitude can be effectively accomplished through the practice of maintaining a gratitude journal and jotting down things that elicit thankfulness. Research has shown that gratitude has the ability to stimulate regions in the brain associated with positive emotions. In addition, experiencing gratitude can overpower negative feelings, enhance optimism, and foster increased compassion.

Helps You Overcome Obstacles:

The efficacy of journaling in aiding individuals in their recovery from previous traumas and difficult experiences has been supported by research. A recent investigation conducted at Duke University involved individuals who had encountered a traumatic event recently. These participants were subjected to a six-week writing “intervention,” which encompassed a range of writing exercises such as expressive, poetic, transactional, and mindful journaling.

The study’s findings revealed that engaging in writing activities enhanced the participants’ ability to bounce back from adversity and lessened their levels of stress.

Assists You In Setting And Achieving Goals:

Writing down your goals is a highly effective strategy for attaining them successfully. Jotting them on paper enhances clarity and enables you to envision them more vividly. This visualization technique, employed by top athletes and CEOs, entails imagining that your desired accomplishments have already become a reality.

What To Put In A Journal:

This is an individual choice that can evolve over time. Initially, you can begin journaling to gain clarity on your desired career path and subsequently modify it to incorporate a goal-oriented strategy.

Here are some suggestions to consider regarding how you can utilize your personal journal and what topics you can cover:

  • Personal or professional aspirations
  • Quotes that serve as a source of inspiration or motivation
  • Reflecting on insights or realizations you’ve had
  • Posing questions that you hope to answer in the future
  • Areas you wish to improve upon
  • Giving yourself compliments and acknowledging your achievements
  • Envisioning your long-term goals and aspirations
  • Documenting your daily activities, accomplishments, and experiences
  • Identifying obstacles or frustrations you’re currently facing and working to overcome
  • Recording your dietary intake and analyzing how it affects your well-being.

How To Start A Journaling Practice

How To Start A Journaling Practice

Getting started with journaling might appear daunting initially. Similar to developing any other routine, it requires some time before it integrates seamlessly into your everyday life.

Below are a few suggestions to assist you in commencing and maintaining a journal.

Find The Journaling Methods That Are Effective For You:

Numerous individuals opt for maintaining a physical journal as it assists them in enhancing and articulating their ideas with greater clarity. However, resorting to writing with pen and paper is not the sole approach to journaling.

When embarking on your writing journey, it is crucial to identify the method that suits you best.

You might discover that utilizing a laptop enhances your enjoyment of journaling. Moreover, there is no need to confine yourself to a single method.

For instance, let’s say you prefer handwriting, but you experience a surge of inspiration during your morning subway commute. In such a scenario, you can make use of the notes application on your phone to quickly jot down your thoughts before they slip your mind.

Give Up Judgments (write this for yourself only):

Journaling has no strict rules or guidelines. It is crucial to cultivate self-kindness and disregard your internal judgmental voice while putting pen to paper. Journaling provides a space free from criticism or evaluation.

There’s no need to fret about technicalities such as grammar or spelling. Remember, your journal is intended solely for your own eyes, not for others to read.

If you become self-critical or fear potential readers of your journal, you tend to inhibit your true self and withhold honesty.

Keep Your Expectations In Check:

When you start journaling, don’t anticipate producing numerous pages packed with profound ideas right away. If you hold unrealistic expectations, it may demotivate you and hinder your commitment to journaling since you won’t see immediate progress. Similar to forming any other habit, it’s important to establish achievable objectives and gradually make progress in order to witness positive outcomes.

Establish A Writing Schedule:

Writing becomes effortless when you’re filled with inspiration and motivation, but what about those days when you lack those feelings?

Establishing a consistent writing routine and dedicating specific time for journaling can keep you on the right path, even during moments of low inspiration.

One approach is to allocate a fixed period every morning after breakfast or every evening before going to sleep, even if it’s just a brief five to ten minutes. By employing this time management technique, you give journaling the importance it deserves and seamlessly integrate it into your daily schedule.

Make A Habit Of Putting Down Your Thoughts In A Journal:

When it comes to selecting a topic to write about, the possibilities are boundless. You have the freedom to document your daily experiences, express your thoughts and feelings, or delve into something that has sparked your inspiration.

Moreover, writing can serve as a channel for venting intense emotions such as anger, frustration, or sadness. Transferring these sentiments onto paper can liberate you from their persistent presence in your mind.

As a daily ritual, upon awakening, open your journal and commence writing three pages, allowing any thoughts that arise to flow onto the paper.

This practice of stream-of-consciousness writing has proven to be therapeutic for individuals who have experimented with it. It has assisted them in processing emotions, attaining mental clarity, and unlocking their imaginative capacities.

Use Journaling Questions:

At times, you may find yourself gazing at your journal, wondering what to write. However, there’s no need to worry because the internet offers numerous journaling prompts that can assist you in overcoming your writer’s block. Here is a compilation of topics to consider journaling about on those days when you feel stuck:

  • Express gratitude by listing things and people you are thankful for.
  • Reflect on a recent situation that presented a challenge.
  • Compose a letter (which you won’t send) to someone significant in your life.
  • Document the small things that bring you joy throughout your day.
  • Recall and contemplate the best decision you have ever made.
  • Write down daily positive affirmations to uplift your spirits.

Be Creative:

Feel free to confidently showcase your individuality and unleash your imagination. The act of journaling extends beyond mere prose, embracing diverse forms such as poetry, sketching, artwork, lyrics, and any other means that empower you to express your true self.


Getting started with journaling is simple, but establishing a daily routine requires self-discipline. Developing beneficial habits doesn’t occur instantaneously, as it takes time and effort.

However, if you remain consistent, you will eventually witness the positive effects of journaling in both your personal and professional spheres. You can utilize journaling as a means of personal growth, self-exploration, stress relief, or envisioning your goals. There are no strict rules or guidelines for journaling; it’s a personal endeavour.

If you’re prepared to dedicate yourself, BetterUp provides personalized coaching services to support you in achieving a happier and more satisfying life.

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