Putting pen to paper can clear your mind, ignite your imagination and allow your feelings to flow. Journaling uses both the left and right sides of the brain, so you can process your thoughts and feelings at the same time. Using journaling as a tool for wellbeing encourages you to get to know yourself better, be more present in the moment and develop a greater awareness of your emotions and thought patterns. Whether you’re creative or analytical, a first-timer or notebook-obsessed, we’ve prepared this guide to help you find a style of journaling that suits you. There’s no better feeling than filling a blank page.
How to get started with journaling
Journaling should be something you look forward to, the pages a safe space to turn to whenever you need. Whether you’re a minimalist or a lover of bold prints, choose a notebook that you’ll want to pick up, with plain, lined or dotted paper. You can personalise all our notebooks and guided journals with your name, initials or some inspiring words to make it feel truly your own. Pop yours somewhere you’ll see it regularly, like your bedside table or desk. If you can, try and set a time for reflection. Take ten minutes in the morning sunshine, or write by moonlight just before bed. Whatever time you write, make sure you set the scene. Play your favourite music, light a candle and get cosy. When you’re feeling comfortable, it’ll be much easier to turn inwards and see what you can find.
1. Letter writing journaling
You don’t have to send letters to get therapeutic benefits – just the act of putting pen to paper is more than enough to let out your feelings or figure out your thoughts. You can write to yourself in the future or past – try describing what you’re hopeful for, what you’re proud of or what you’d love to tell your younger self. Or pen a letter to someone else, to privately express whatever you’re really feeling. You could write to an ex, a family member or someone else you care about, or practise a tough conversation you’re struggling with in real life. Writing letters without sending them allows you to create your own form of closure. Between the pages of your journal, you are in complete control.
2. Journaling for artistic expression
Getting creative isn’t just for artists, but can be a freeing method of self-care. Your journal can act as a judgement-free space for artistic experimentation. Try using collage to express yourself – flick through an old paper or magazine and see which words and images jump out at you. You could sketch or draw in a favourite outdoor spot, filling up on fresh air and using pens and pencils to capture the natural beauty around you. If you’re fond of photos, try pasting them onto blank pages or using them as writing prompts. Flexing your creative muscle is a relaxing way to get in touch with yourself, and you never know what could end up on the page.
3. Imaginative journaling
You can also try testing your imagination with some creative writing. If you’re struggling with a difficult decision, try imagining what would happen if you made each choice, then write a paragraph about what the outcomes would feel like. Or, imagine advice from different people – your best friend, mum and boss would all give you different perspectives. To keep things positive, try writing about your dream day. Don’t hold back, but lose yourself in the beauty of possibilities. Turn the pages of your favourite books and note down inspiring quotes, or keep your journal close when watching a film for any inspiration. On difficult days, you can turn to your treasured words and imaginary scenes and find a little comfort.
4. Organisational journaling
If you find yourself ruminating on everything you have to get done, or worrying about things to come, use your journal as a space to get organised. You could try setting goals for the day, week or year. Break up big tasks into smaller to-dos, and enjoy the satisfaction of ticking things off. You could also list places you’d like to go, use a recipe journal to write out meals you’d like to cook or keep track of your favourite mindful activities in a wellness journal. Use a ruler to create tables if you’d like to see your week on one page, or try your hand at bullet journaling. Seeing your plans and priorities on paper will immediately soothe a little of your stress and make you feel more in control. Plus, once you’ve ticked things off, you can look back at your pages and appreciate all that you’ve achieved.
5. Morning pages
To start your day with a moment of reflection, try writing morning pages. This method of journaling is about giving yourself the space to really let go and get in touch with things you may not be consciously thinking of. Some people like to set a timer, while others prefer to keep writing until they’ve filled a certain amount of pages. Whichever method you choose, allow yourself to empty everything onto the page. Don’t worry about it making sense – morning pages should be an uninhibited stream of consciousness, a judgement-free zone to pour out your thoughts and feelings. Once you’ve freed yourself from all the subconscious chatter, you’ll feel lighter for the rest of your day.
6. Gratitude journaling
Taking time to note what you’re grateful for can make you feel more positive and remind you of how much you already have. Gratitude journaling is a great way to tap into this feeling. Try noting down three things you’re looking forward to, or three things from your day that brought you joy. Some days may be filled with big wins, while others can feel more disappointing. Practising gratitude can help you feel better on bad mornings and make eventful evenings even more special. If this sounds like something you’d like to focus on, you might like to pick up your own gratitude journal.
7. Describe your day journaling
Going through your day and writing down the highlights, lowlights and everything in between can help you recognise patterns in your behaviour. Try making note of what you did, who you saw, where you went and any accompanying thoughts or feelings. Then evaluate your days and reflect on what you notice. Perhaps seeing someone made your mood dip, or doing a certain activity sparked joy. Reflecting on your days in this way will make you more conscious of your choices, allowing you to get to know yourself on a deeper level and make changes for the better.
Write your way
When it comes to journaling for wellbeing, there’s no right or wrong way to get going. It’s all about finding what feels good for you, and making the process fit into your life. Your journal should be a paper sanctuary, a safe and quiet refuge from the highs and lows of everyday life. All you have to do is turn to a fresh page.