Do you keep a journal? If so, are you aware of the benefits of keeping a journal? Kudos for doing something that has so many self-care benefits. If you don’t currently keep a journal, I encourage you to start.
No, I’m not talking about that middle school diary that you used to hide under your mattress. I’m referring to a place where you write down your thoughts and feelings in a journal in an attempt to understand them better.
This article from WebMD explains some of the mental health benefits of journaling.
Let’s talk more about other benefits of keeping a journal, but first, let’s dive into what journaling is.
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What is Journaling?
To someone who has never kept a journal, the term journaling can be a little intimidating. But, I want to assure you that even the most novice writer can keep a journal. Journaling is, simply put, the act of writing down your personal thoughts and feelings. It’s a low-cost self-care activity that has lots of benefits.
How to Keep a Journal
Types of journals
Keep it simple when it comes to journaling. Some people like to write in their journals; others like to draw pictures. Either way works. The main goal of journaling is to express your feelings and thoughts, and there is no right or wrong way to do it.
In this technology age, some people like to use their phones, computers, or other devices to keep a typed journal, but I love a traditional notebook-style journal, like this one from Promptly Journals. Use code CHERITH15 to get 15% off your order at Promptly Journals.
Whichever method you choose, don’t overcomplicate things by spending too much time figuring out the proper format of the journal. The most important thing is that you have a place where you feel comfortable getting your thoughts from your head to your journal.
How to get started with journaling
The first thing to keep in mind when starting a journal is to make it easy for yourself. If you make it too difficult, you won’t stick to it. In the beginning, simply write what you feel. You do not need to follow any specific structure. If you find it difficult to get started, you may consider using my journal writing exercise to help you get started.
Next, make your schedule for writing in your journal. Ideally, you’ll want to set aside some time each day to journal. However, if that doesn’t work for your schedule or if you’re not inspired to journal one day, don’t. The beauty of journaling is that you can make it your own. Make it work for you.
Now, let’s talk about why you should keep a journal.
Benefits of Keeping a Journal
1. Track progress and growth
If you’re a person who sets goals for yourself, a journal is a great way to reflect on goals. Writing in a journal allows you to not only list your goals but track your progress towards reaching those goals, too. You can write your plan for reaching your goals and monitor your progress along the way. It’s helpful to have your journal as a way to look back to see what worked and what didn’t work.
Journals are also a great way to help you reach your goals. This article by Marelisa Fabrega talks more specifically about using a journal to reach your goals.
2. Gain self-confidence
Journaling can help you gain self-confidence. Spending time writing about your strengths serves as a resource for the days when your confidence is lacking. You can write about things like what makes you unique or things that you’ve accomplished.
Promptly Journals’ A Self-Love Journal is an excellent journal for improving self-confidence. This journal is a mixture of prompts, quotes, and weekly exercises designed to help you focus on yourself. Some sections range from finding yourself to practicing self-care to help you dig deep and learn to love yourself.
3. Improve writing skills
Journaling regularly helps to improve your writing skills. Writing Forward talks about the specific ways that journaling can improve your writing skills in this article. The more you write in your journal, the easier it becomes. Over time, it won’t be as challenging to get started and you’ll find that thoughts come to you more easily.
4. Keep memory sharp
Journaling improves working memory capacity. Research suggests that you’re more likely to commit things to memory when you write things by hand. This study in Science Daily found that writing by hand leads to improved memory.
5. Improve mood
When I’m in a bad or somber mood, writing helps. Often when you get negative thoughts from your head to paper, you feel better. Writing in a journal can help you prioritize your problems and concerns and really put things in perspective.
6. Express your feelings
Keeping a journal is a great way to express your feelings. Journaling allows you to freely write what you’re thinking and feeling without fear of someone’s response.
7. Cope with grief
Losing a loved one is difficult. I lost both my parents within three months in 2019 and 2020. One thing that has helped me cope with losing them is journaling. You can write about memories that you have of your loved ones, which might even make you smile a little. You can also write to help you figure out what life will be like without them as you try to figure out your next steps towards healing.
8. Learn to be more grateful
Greater Good Magazine shares lots of tips for keeping a gratitude journal. However, in the article, they also explain that research varies about the effectiveness of gratitude journals. I will, however, say that gratitude journals work for me. On my especially sad days, it’s helpful to look in my gratitude journal to see just how many things I have to be grateful for.
Promptly Journals has a gratitude journal that is a perfect combination of prompts, blank lines, and quotes. It will really help to nudge you when you struggle listing things that you’re grateful for.
9. Keep your thoughts organized
I LOVE freewriting in a journal. It’s a great way to get my thoughts out of my head and clear the clutter in my mind. If you are someone who gets overwhelmed by the thoughts in your head, you might like a ruled journal like Promptly Journal’s Believe journal.
Best Journals for Self-Care
Journaling is one of my favorite self-care activities. It’s also a great way help you begin to move towards forgiveness. The key to making journaling a habit is to find a journal that you love. One of the first things I look for in a journal is one that is good quality, like this gratitude journal from Therabox.
I also love this guided self love journal that is filled with prompts and practices to help improve self-esteem and self-confidence.
There are several benefits of keeping a journal that make it a perfect self-care activity. In addition to being able to express yourself freely and creatively, you can also clear the clutter from your mind and possibly reduce stress and anxiety by writing in a journal. If you haven’t tried journaling, consider giving it a try. You just might find it to be a great way to increase gratitude and be more in tune with yourself.
I have just returned to Journaling. I enjoyed the blog. As you mentioned, Journaling has numerous benefits. One that I didn’t think about was gratitude. I’ll have added that to my list. Great article. Keep up the excellent work.
Thank you so much for stopping by and for your kind words! Best wishes as you begin journaling again!
What a great read! Journaling has been so helpful for me the past 2 years! Thank you for sharing the importantance of journaling with the world!
You are so welcome! Thanks for stopping by and I’m so glad to hear that you love journaling as much as I do!
Being a mental health professional myself I definitely understand the importance of journaling . You have really summarized all the points well . 👏.
Thank you so much and I’m so happy to hear your perspective as a mental health professional! Thanks so much for stopping by!
This is all so true I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t journal! Great read.
Thank you so much! I appreciate your kind words. Keep journaling!
One of my New Year’s resolutions was to start a journal. My friend and I are doing it together for accountability and we started yesterday. Thanks for the encouragement. It feels weird, but I’m really hoping it will make a difference for me this year.
It does feel weird at first, but it gets easier! My journals have no rhyme or reason. I just write whatever I feel! I hope you will enjoy journaling as much as I do. It really does help clear the clutter from my head!
Journaling is an extremely helpful practice that everyone can benefit from! It’s something that we all should be doing daily! Awesome post, thank you for sharing!
I absolutely agree! Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing you thoughts on my favorite self-care activity–journaling!
Love this! I recently started keeping a journal and I can’t even begin to tell you how much I have noticed an improvement in my mood throughout the day. Journaling is so simple and effective.
Yes! Journaling improves my mood, too! It helps so much to just get stuff out of my head and onto that paper! Happy journaling and thanks so much for stopping by!
These are all great points and definitely motivate me to get back into journaling. I definitely find that journaling helps me unburden my mind and organize my thoughts better than almost ANYTHING else. I also love to be able to go back and read old entries because it really helps me see personal growth.
I’m so glad to hear that someone loves journaling as much as I do! There are really so many great benefits of journaling. Thanks so much for stopping by and happy journaling!
Great article. It’s fun doing journaling.
Thanks so much! And yes, journaling is so fun! Thanks for stopping by!