Dear Diary: Why should I journal, and how do I get started?
From stylish notebooks to colorful pens, there's something undeniably fun about picking out the perfect journal to embark on your writing adventure. Even better is that journaling is not only enjoyable, but also chock-full of mental health benefits. By putting pen to paper, you can explore your thoughts and feelings, vent your worries, and reduce stress and anxiety. When you begin the reflective habit of journaling, you can also unlock your creative potential, enhancing your creativity and problem-solving skills.
Are you convinced yet? Well, if you’ve always been meaning to start journaling but were never sure how to get started, read on!
Not sure what to write? Try a theme!
The most common type of journal is a daily log of things that happened and your feelings about them, but maybe this type of journal just isn’t for you. Luckily, there are countless themes you can choose to explore in your daily entries, so if you’re worried about writer’s block, you’ve got plenty of choices. Here are a few journal types to get you started:
- Gratitude Journal: Focus on the positives by jotting down things you're grateful for each day. The act of looking at the upside can raise your mood, and you’ll also have a nice record to look back on whenever you’re feeling low.
- Mood Tracker: Even if you don’t have a lot to say each day, noting your emotions can help identify patterns or triggers. The simple act of naming your daily emotion may also inspire you to elaborate and let out some of the emotions that might otherwise stay bottled up.
- Dream Journal: This kind of journal isn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but you may enjoy making it part of your morning routine. Use your dream journal to record your dreams and delve into your subconscious mind. If you keep it up over the long term, you may even notice patterns in your dreams during times of great stress.
- Goals Journal: If you’re working toward a specific goal, such as finishing your education, running a marathon, or saving money for your future, a goals journal can supplement your other efforts. Outline your goals, then keep track of what you do each day to achieve them. Every few weeks, review your entries to refine your strategies.
Don't be afraid to mix and match themes or keep different types of entries in the same journal. The most important thing is to build a consistent journaling habit!
How to get started
Beginning your journaling journey is as simple as picking up a pen, opening a blank document on your computer, or even opening a voice memo app! Follow these easy steps to start cultivating your journaling habit:
- Set aside time. Dedicate a specific time of day to journaling, whether it's in the morning right after you wake up, last thing in the evening, or during your lunch break. If you’ve never journaled before, start with 5 minutes a day and go from there.
- Be consistent but patient. As with any habit, you should be aiming for daily progress, but if you miss a day, don’t feel pressure to write extra to cover the day you missed.
- Write freely. Don’t worry about grammar, punctuation, or how you sound, and don’t edit! This isn’t a writing assignment, and it’s for your eyes only, so let your emotions fly if you need to, and by all means curse if you must!
- That’s it! Really!
Now you're all set to embark on your very own journaling journey. Choose a fabulous notebook or your preferred app or website, and let your ideas run freely! Why not start right now? Even if you don’t feel ready, grab any old piece of paper and a writing utensil, and write a few sentences about how you’re feeling right this moment. What are you waiting for?