Many of us have a hard time taking care of ourselves. We don’t take the time to do things that help us relax, and we put off activities we enjoy because we don’t have the time or are too busy. Taking care of yourself may seem selfish, but it can be one of the most important things you do for your mental health.
One accessible and easy way to take care of our mental health is journaling. You can start creating a new one in a short amount of time, and it doesn’t need additional investment— all you need is pen and paper, and you’re good to go!
It’s easy to dismiss the idea of keeping a journal as something that only little children do. But it’s one of the most effective ways to improve your mental health and well-being.
What is journaling?
As the name suggests, a journal is a place to write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It’s a way to reflect on your own life and record important events. Journalling is a great way to release your thoughts and feelings. Write down your thoughts and feelings in a paper medium or digitally on a doc file.
It is essential to start from the heart and not from the head when you are writing. Writing from the heart makes it easier for you to express what you think and feel, even if it makes you look bad. Those negative thoughts and emotions are valid and best released into writing.
For many, this type of journaling can be scary or confronting, which is why people avoid it; however, just jumping straight in and starting with “Dear Diary” or “Dear Journal” can make it easier for some people. Once you get into the swing of things, there are no rules about how long each entry needs to be or when you need to do them.
What are the benefits of journaling?
Journaling your thoughts and feelings is a powerful personal development tool. It can help you through tricky times, build self-esteem, improve your self-awareness, regain control of your life and savor precious moments.
Journaling can also be a form of self-care. Clearing your mind and expressing your emotions is beneficial to your mental health. Other benefits of journaling can include:
- Expressing yourself without fear of judgment
- Getting things off your chest
- Releasing pent up emotions
- Learning about yourself
- Improving your self-esteem
- Increasing your insight into your thoughts and actions
- Learning from past experiences
- Unleashing your creativity
- Manifesting positive affirmations
- Can be used as a form of meditation
Ideas and steps on starting a self-care journal
Trying to get started writing in a journal can be daunting; we’re often worried we won’t have anything interesting or important enough to write about – and we’re terrified people will read our journals if we leave them lying around! But journaling is something you can do every day, even just for five minutes at a time; it doesn’t have to belong or be detailed. To kickstart your new habit and help you feel more confident about writing in your journal, here are some tips:
You don’t have to write in your journal every single day forever. Every time you do, it is a victory! Make your first goal to write something every weekend night before bed. Then add another day per week (a Monday, perhaps) until you have something you can commit to daily.
Create a space for yourself
Find a place where you’ll be undisturbed for at least 20 minutes so that you can be comfortable writing without distraction. Your desk is ideal, but if that won’t work for you, try another room in your house — maybe even outside!
Choose a medium that’s comfortable for you
If you’re into notebooks, choose one that will keep you inspired in sticking to the habit. There are so many fun colors, designs, and sizes available now that it doesn’t have to be boring. Make sure the paper is good quality, so you have the option to write on both sides of each page, and no space gets wasted.
If you’re into using a digital notebook or file, make sure that you use an app or software that can keep a record of your journals. That way, it’ll be easier for you to look back on your previous records. There are apps like Goodnotes, Evernote, Day One, or you can use your device’s native notes app. You can also use a doc file with Microsoft Word and Google Docs when you prefer to type long-form for your entries.
Don’t stress about what to write
This is the part where most people struggle when they start journaling— what to write about? You can start with a simple sentence or a paragraph describing your day or what made you feel happy. Answering a journaling prompt also helps. Journaling prompts are sentences or questions that make you think and reflect about your past experiences, present situation, or plans.
You can check the journaling prompts list in the latter part of this article for inspiration. You can also go to the creative route of drawing or painting something representing your mood and feelings. Other people want a more structured approach to journaling, like the Bullet Journal method.
Either way, whatever type of journaling you go with, don’t stress yourself so much on the content and just let your thoughts, feelings, and emotions flow.
The word consistency is often underrated and undervalued. People don’t seem to understand its importance and the power it holds. If you can master consistency, there is no reason you can’t achieve success in whatever your heart desires.
And the opposite is true: You get out of life what you put into it – so if you don’t want to be successful in business, relationships, or anything else for that matter, then don’t expect to be successful by not being consistent on a day-to-day basis.
Same with journaling, if you want to maximize the full benefits of journaling, consistency is the key. Pick a time of the day when you’re more comfortable writing in your journal. Or, you can set aside a few minutes a day to brain dump everything and let it flow.
Self-care journal prompts
Here are some daily prompts to help you get started on your self-care journaling practice.
- What have you done for yourself today?
- What are three things that bring you joy today?
- What is the best part of your day?
- What’s one new thing you learned about yourself today?
- What did you learn today?
- What are the three things you’re grateful for today?
- What are your positive affirmations?
- What is my ideal day?
- Where do I see myself five years from today?
- How am I feeling?
- How are my heart and mind doing?
- What thoughts crossed my mind today?
- What do I want to accomplish tomorrow?
There are plenty of benefits to starting a self-care journal. It allows you to reflect on your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. And it enables you to recognize and appreciate the things that bring you joy or make a positive impact in your life. Most importantly, it allows you to take care of yourself mentally and physically through various methods, including meditation, relaxation, and simple sleep hygiene tips. Best of all, it can be done anywhere!
Learn how you can start practicing self-care! Sign up for personal development courses at Skill Success.