Journaling conjures up so many different emotions in people. Some love it and immediately feel a sense of calm, joy or peace. Others want to gag and zone out as soon as they see or hear the word.
So what is journaling exactly and why make a habit of it? After all, life is both short and busy.
Journaling isn’t complicated. It’s simply writing down your thoughts. There are no rules or regulations for it. You can write in a journal, on a napkin, or on loose paper for example. You can draw or doodle, use pens, crayons, or markers. It’s just about getting what’s in your head out on paper.
There are so many benefits to this. It helps you organize your thoughts, relieve stress, hold memories, create new ideas or stories, brainstorm, and get clarity. Your mind is a well of information locked inside your brain. Writing opens the floodgates and allows the ideas to flow.
You can use journaling as a mind map to organize your ideas and streamline your actions on the road to a successful, enjoyable life.
Over time journaling becomes a time capsule. Once you’ve kept up a sustained habit for months or years, you can go back and read what was going on in your life back in the day. If you want you can even show it to your kids or significant others later in life or use it to write a memoir.
One of the most important things it does though is clear your mind. Whether you’re upset, depressed, heartbroken, or so full of creative ideas that you don’t know how to share them all, putting it on paper helps your mind relax and process information more effectively.
What should I do if I want to start, or restart, journaling?
1. First, just start! Write for 1 minute, write one line or word, doodle one picture. It doesn’t matter, just do it! The point is to get what’s in your head out on paper.
2. Invest in a cool journal. Although there are no rules for journaling, having a fun journal makes the process more exciting. And having a physical journal, as opposed to loose paper or napkins, allows your thoughts and ideas to be in the same space so you’re less likely to lose them. It also acts as a time capsule. As you continue your journaling practice the books will stack up and eventually you’ll have your own biographic library. You’ll be able to see your growth over time, and possibly share your stories with others. (This is one of my journals.)
That’s it, 2 steps. Buy a journal and then download your brain into it.
Once you’ve started and you want to become more advanced consider these practices:
Journal at specific times of the day.
Use journalling prompts.
Before you sleep write a word or question on the top of the journal page, then as soon as you wake up immediately start writing in response to it.
Write just before bed. This can help you process how your life unfolded over the day.
Do Twilight Journaling. This is when you create a way to wake yourself up a bit early, while your still in a dream state, and write while you’re still half asleep.
If you’re like me and don’t want negative stuff in your journal, brain dump it on loose paper and then shred it. It really gets out the dark stuff without having to worry about who else will read it.
That’s it. Easy peasy.
So my challenge for you this week, should you choose to accept it, is to buy a journal, one you love. (Barnes and Noble, Marshals, and Amazon have unique ones.) Then write at least one word a day in it for 7 straight days. At least one word.
If you’d like to work with me as your coach please contact me at
If you like a deeper dive into things then check out other great articles with the links below.
Have a great day!
Nursing Students’ Experiences of Gratitude Journaling during the COVID-19 Pandemic - PMC (nih.gov). (If you’re new to reading journal articles, a quick tip is to read the abstract and the summary/discussion. That will give you the gist, then you can dive into the entire article for more.)