You can experience a greater sense of well being with journaling daily. Try these tips, tools and prompts to help you get started.
When I decided to give this journaling thing a try, my first thought was there is no way I could squeeze one more thing into my day. There was also the fact that I was a little skeptical about some of the benefits.
Despite a busy life and a little skepticism, there was something appealing about the freedom of thought and expression without rules expectations or judgment.
At first, as you might expect with trying something new, I would describe journaling as a little uncomfortable. Too often I was staring at a blank page asking myself, “what am I supposed to write?” Now, I’ve been journaling for 5 months. Every. Single. Day. It took about a month to become a habit and a few more months to become effortless.
Putting my thoughts and sometimes randomness on paper has helped me create a deeper self awareness and a mindset of clarity.
Ask the experts.
What does the research say?
- Heal emotional wounds
- Feel a greater sense of well-being
- Decrease stress
- Improve relationships
- Boost your immune system
In 2002, Pennebaker and Joshua Smyth of Syracuse University reported that writing about emotions and stress boosted the immune systems of patients with chronic disease. Journaling has been shown to be associated with drops in depression, anxiety, and increases in positive mood, social engagement, and quality of close relationships.
Still not sold on the idea of a daily journaling practice?
Think about this, journaling:
- is a great way to tune into your intuition and gain insight into yourself
- is a judgment free zone to write about who you are and the things that are important to you
- can give you clarity by giving you a safe space to let your guard down and allowing thoughts to flow freely without regard to rules and judgement
- can help you problem solving by processing pros and cons and/or brainstorming to generate solutions
- helps keep you focused on your goals to track your progress, re-assess and make changes when needed
- can help clear the mind at the end to a stressful day
If you’re new to daily journaling, one of the biggest challenges can be what to write and prompts can be really helpful in overcoming that challenge.
Scan the list of prompts and journal about whatever peaks your interest. With regular journaling, the list will inspire you to create meaningful prompts of your own.
50 Journaling Prompts
- Inspirational quotes
- What is the dominant emotion in your life right now?
- Reflect on a quote
- What would you ask for if a genie granted you three wishes?
- List your strengths
- Personal goals
- How would your best friend describe you?
- Meaningful events
- Gratitude list
- Challenges you’re currently facing
- Brainstorm solutions to challenges you’re currently facing
- Recall a memory and the feelings associated with the memory
- Recall the details of a dream and any feelings associated with the dream
- Affirmations (write your daily affirmation over and over, 5, 10, 15… times)
- Write a letter to yourself
- Complete the sentence, “Today I feel _____________________.”
- A compliment you received and how it made me feel
- List 5 positive traits about yourself
- Fears you’re facing
- List the things that make you happy
- Your feelings about another person
- List your dreams, hopes and desires
- Where do you see yourself in one year
- What do you like most about your life right now?
- What would you like to change and is in your power to change about your life right now?
- Reflect on a negative thought cycle
- Spontaneous journaling by writing down everything that comes to mind
- Recall the details of the last time you laughed so hard you had tears in your eyes
- What are you really proud of about yourself?
- What do you fear most?
- What is the nicest compliment anyone has ever paid you?
- Complete the sentence, “I feel the most confident when ________________.”
- Create a mindmap to brainstorm a project you’re working on or thinking about
- Details and feelings associated with upcoming or recent changes in your life
- A synopsis of your day
- List 5 short-term goals
- The most fun you’ve ever had
- List 3 things you want in a relationship
- What’s the funniest thing that happened to you this week?
- What would you do if money were not object?
- What would your perfect day look like?
- What’s your wildest dream?
- What makes you unique?
- List 5 things that went well today/yesterday?
- What are the priorities in your life right now?
- If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be?
- Instead of writing words, draw, sketch or doodle your journal entry
- What is your guilty pleasure?
- List 5 things you love about yourself
- If you could travel anywhere, where would you go?
With a commitment and these tips, you can create a journaling habit too.
How did I make journaling a daily habit?
- Make yourself a priority! The benefits far outreach the time it takes to journal yes, you’re worth it.
- You’ll need a place to actually keep your journaling. Here are some ideas: commercial journals, notebook, blog, text document on your computer or a simple piece of paper.
- Don’t worry about the fact it’s not the beginning of the year or a new month. Start from today.
- Don’t let yourself get overwhelmed. Don’t think of the ‘forest.’ Just focus on the one day at a time.
- Make journaling a part of your daily routine.
- Even with regular journaling everyone experiences writer’s block. Keep the list of journaling prompts close by to jumpstart your creativity and ideas.
- Set a time limit. A blank journal page and unlimited time can be overwhelming.
- Your journaling does not have to be prolific or profound. Focus on the content of your words, not how they’re written.
- Do not edit. It’s unnecessarily time consuming and overthinking can get in the way of what our intuition is telling us.
- Keep in mind your writing is only for you. Take into consideration where you write and where you keep your journal for privacy.
- Journal the same time everyday.
- Find a place to journal that you can use daily and with minimal distractions, e.g. TV, computer, talking, phone, etc.
- Date each entry.
- Keep it simple.
Does daily journaling still feel overwhelming?
Try this. Simply answer the following 3 questions daily:
- What made you feel calm today?
- What are you grateful for?
- What were three highlights of the day?
With time and creating a journaling habit you will begin to expand the topics and increase the variety of your journal entries.
One More Tip
Consider journaling by hand. When I started journaling I was tempted to turn to the keyboard on my laptop. Research shows that pen and paper have measurable benefits over keyboards. According to Suzanne Baruch Asherson, occupational therapist, handwriting stimulates brain synapses and synchronicity between the left and right hemispheres. Research shows that writing stimulates an area of the brain called the RAS (reticular activating system), which filters and brings clearly to the forefront the information we’re focusing on.
Interestingly, Maud Purcell, psychotherapist and journaling expert, says “Writing accesses you’re the left hemisphere of the brain, which is analytical and rational. While your left brain is occupied, your right brain is free to do what it does best, i.e. create, intuit and feel. In this way, writing removes mental blocks and allows us to use more of our brainpower to better understand ourselves and the world around us.”
If handwriting isn’t comfortable for you? Use a computer.
In the Beginner’s Guide To Journaling I’ve included journaling prompts and a habit tracker. They were both instrumental in the success of my daily journaling practice. The habit tracker was a great visual reminder to journal and an easy way to follow my progress.
I would love to chat.
Do (or would) you journal with pen and paper or keyboard? Do you journal regularly? What benefits have you experienced from journaling?
be the best version of YOU