Journaling 101: The Ultimate Guide To Starting a Journal

Journaling can be an easy process if you know where to start. From Marco Polo to Bridget Jones – they’ve all done it!

A journal is essentially a written record of your thoughts, feelings, experiences and observations. There are many types of journals out there. This post focuses on the classic freeform style of journaling. This is one of the easiest and most popular types of journaling, where you write an entry for a few pages or for a specified amount of time (could be five minutes or twenty minutes- you decide). The idea is to write whatever is on your mind, in a free flowing manner.

There are many benefits to journaling.

  • Helps you understand yourself better: Journaling can help you organise your thinking and improve your clarity. This in turn helps you make better decisions.
  • Improves mood and reduces stress: Psychologists have found that writing down feelings helps you overcome emotional upsets and reduce stress, thereby making you feel better at the end of the process. 
  • Keeps you healthy: Journaling is a healthy way to express yourself. It helps you deal with overwhelming emotions, and is therefore considered to be a great tool for managing your mental health. Studies have also shown that expressive writing is linked to improvements in longer-term physical health outcomes such as immune system functioning , blood pressure, lung function, and liver function. 
  • Helps solve problems more effectively: Writing removes mental blocks and therefore helps you solve problems more effectively. 
  • It can make you more creative and can also improve your memory!

What should I write about?
You could write about anything! You could talk about your day, your feelings, or even reflect about an experience from your past or an event in the future.There are no rules to this. Remember, your journal is a private space where you can express yourself. Write about whatever comes to your mind when you sit down with your journal, and don’t think too hard – just let your thoughts flow.

How do I start?

Step 1: You will require a pen and a notebook or journal. There are many options – choose one that you like the best!

Step 2: Jot down the date before starting an entry. This helps when you want to go back to read your entries and to track your progress.

Step 3: Just start writing. Like I said before, there are no strict rules to journaling. Make sure that you’re being honest. No one’s judging you here. Try to not get worked up about the little mistakes that you may make. Go with the flow, and do not go back and correct your mistakes.

How much should I write?
Write how much you think you should write. It could be a few lines, or even a few pages! It’s all about what makes you feel better, although it is suggested that you journal for 20 minutes everyday.

When should I write?
Some argue that it’s best to do it at the end of the day or before going to bed, because it allows you keep your mornings for acting instead of reflecting. There may also not be much to reflect about in the mornings and your journaling practise may turn into a planning routine. Some others argue that journaling in the morning can set the tone for the rest of the day and increase productivity. The key here is to do what works for you. You could even journal in chunks throughout the day if that works for you!

How often should I write?
Don’t beat yourself on this one. Although it’s ideal if you write everyday, it’s also okay to write on specific occasions or when you think it’s necessary – could be to answer a specific question like why am I not studying enough? Figure out what works best and what makes you feel better. Be sure to have enough many entries to help you track your progress over time.

Can I just write on my computer?
Yes, but research suggests that writing engages the brain more actively, and activates a part of your brain which helps you focus better on the task at hand. The process of writing on paper produces an effect that is similar to meditation, if done in a focused and mindful manner.

Additional tips:
1. Set the mood and make it a ritual, if that helps! Light your favourite candle or listen to some soothing music while you journal.

2. Don’t just focus on the negatives. Writing is a powerful process. While it’s important to release your negative emotions, it’s also good to make sure that you focus on some happy memories and show some gratitude!

3. Use stationary that gets you excited to journal.

Links to some journals:

  1. Amazon Basics Classic Notebook
  2. Handmade Leather Writing Journal
  3. B6 size Journal
  4. Modern one line a day journal
  5. Dot grid journal


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3 thoughts on “Journaling 101: The Ultimate Guide To Starting a Journal

  1. Loved it! An excellent article with great tips, tools and practical ways to get into journal writing practice. Our psychology professor urged all of us to practice journal writing to record personal insights, reflections etc., to be an effective counsellor or coach. And advised us to get our clients also to practice daily journal writing which can be a creative and a therapeutic act for them as well.

    Liked by 1 person

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