Morning routines are all the rage lately, huh? And of course, I’m a huge fan of my daily routines too, as they’ve helped me to be more productive and focused each day. Just last month, I shocked my instagram followers when I told them the one habit I try to do every day wasn’t yoga or meditation, but journaling! If you haven’t tried it, here are my top tips on how to get started with a journal.
Using a journal can help you to keep track of your life, see the growth you’re going through, and build self awareness by processing your thoughts on paper. It’s been a powerful tool for helping me to understand my anxiety, as I can see my thoughts more clearly when I write about it.
Starting your own journal shouldn’t be a stressful or overwhelming. Often times, we overthink it and don’t even get started. Let’s try to avoid this!
Take a deep breath and remember, this is all about making your journal practice YOUR OWN. And have fun with it!
Things to consider when starting a journal
To be honest, there is no right or wrong way to write in a journal. Even still, there are some things to consider when first getting started, especially if you plan on creating a consistent practice.
Physical or digital journal?
While studies show the benefits of physically writing out your thoughts in a physical journal, I know many people who love their digital versions. There’s no right or wrong way to do this, but there are considerations with both.
If you opt for a physical journal, let this be a special journal. Picking out a journal and pens that you love will make the writing experience more enjoyable. You may also want to create a consistent place for your daily journaling, where you can have your pens at the ready when you sit down to write.
With a digital version, consider backing up the file so you aren’t as risk of losing the entries. If you use an online service, like Google Docs, download the “offline version” so you can write anytime you’d like, without worrying about wifi connection.
When to write?
I highly recommend writing daily, as much as possible. With that being said, this is not an opportunity to beat yourself up for forgetting your new practice.
Some days, my morning gets thrown off if I oversleep or forget about a meeting and my journaling is missed. No big deal. Creating habits takes time and being hard on yourself won’t help you create a habit any faster.
That being said, I’d experiment with writing in the morning or in the evening. I’m a big fan of getting all my thoughts out first thing in the morning before I do my meditation. It helps me see what I need to do for the day and clear out my mind.
For others, journaling at night can help to release thoughts before going to bed. If you tend to have difficulty falling asleep because of overthinking, try brain dumping into your journal before tucking in for the night.
Experiment with both. Or do both! See what works for you.
What to write in your journal?
That’s totally up to you! Most of the time, I simply write down whatever comes to mind. Some mornings, I’ll even write “I don’t know what to say,” over and over again until something starts to spill onto the page.
However, staring at a blank page and trying to come up with some direction for your journal entry can be really intimidating. So here are some other options for you.
Create daily prompts
One way to help you use a journal every day is to ask yourself the same series of question every day, at least to get you started. I simple journal entry can focus on what’s been happening in your life.
For example, you could answer these three questions every morning or night:
- What did you do yesterday/today?
- What are three things you’re happy about or grateful for?
- What do you plan to do today/tomorrow?
Simple answering these questions can help you to stay focused and present. It also asks as a great way to record your life, so you have memories to look back on.
You can also use journals that already have the daily prompts set up for you, such at the Five-Minute Journal.
Use Different Journal Prompts
When I was just getting started with a journal, I spent a lot of time scrolling Pinterest to find ideas on what to journal about. There are hundreds of writing prompts that you can find to help guide your journal entries.
This is one of the powerful ways I work with my clients, providing them with specific questions that will help them dive deeper into whatever we’re working on.
For example, if I’m coaching on anxiety or stress, we way work on prompts, such as:
- When I’m having a bad day, I want to remember ___.
- What am I afraid of? Why?
- What do I need to get off my chest today?
If I’m coaching on confidence, we might use:
- When do I feel the most confident?
- How would I behave if I were the best in the world at what I do?
- When do I feel the most successful?
Or if we’re working on exploring self, we would try:
- What do I need more of in my life? Less of?
- What do I know to be true today (about myself) that I didn’t know a year ago?
- In the next year, I want to ___.
I have hundreds more, but you can also search for journal prompts that work the best for you.
Journal to Find Why
Another useful way to use your journal is to dig into why. For example, why do you behave the way you do? Why do you have a certain emotional reaction to scenarios? Or why are you so upset today?
One of the ways I challenge friends and clients is by encouraging them to ask “Why?” as many times as they can until they no longer have an answer.
Let me show you a quick example:
Why am I feeling so stressed? Because I have too much on my plate right now.
Why do I have too much on my plate? I don’t know… I guess I’ve been feeling stressed out about money lately so I feel like I have to do a lot more work. Then I feel like I’m being a bad friend if I don’t meet up with people or stay social, so I’ve been saying yes to everything. Just feeling really overwhelmed.
Why am I stressed about money? Why do I feel like I’ll be a bad friend if I say “no” to things?
You can keep going down the rabbit hole, continuing to find “why” questions until you can really find the core issue, This is a powerful practice for establishing better self awareness.
Have Fun With Your Journal
Don’t forget, this should be a fun activity for you to use in whatever way suits you. No matter how you journal – I know it will result in personal growth of some kind. It’s just that powerful!
Let’s share some favorite prompts! Comment below and share your favorite journal prompt or way to journal.
Wishing you luck with your journal!