When you think of journaling, you may reminisce on the “Dear Diary” you kept under lock-and-key as a child or maybe it was a sticker-covered notebook with hand-written notes that you never gave the boy/girl you had a crush on. I recently found some old journals from my middle school years at my dads house – I hope he never read them even though most of them only contained quotes that resonated with me at the time.
Keeping a diary or a journal is not just for kids. Journaling is an outlet that has as many benefits for adults as it does for children. Journaling can help to accelerate your ability to manifest goals, hasten a healing process, generate clarity, and clear your emotions. Journaling ingrains your learning, increases your gratitude, and unfolds the writer in you.
I will assume that most people have made attempts at journaling but some people find it challenging to set up the habit and difficult to conceive ideas to write about.
Now that you’ve learned some of the benefits of journaling, my hope is that you will add journaling to your daily self-care routine.
If you find it easier to write with a prompt, here are several ideas for you:
- GOALS – Journaling your goals forces you to commit them to writing and create a blueprint of your dream life. When you write down your goals, you turn vague desires into well-articulated targets you can clearly see and aim for.
- GRATITUDE – Expressing gratitude daily forces you to pay attention to the good things in life that you may otherwise take for granted. When we express gratitude, it positively influences our behavior and attitude and is an instant mood boost. A few years ago, my brother was suffering from feelings of depression and a lack of worthiness. Every day for the next week, I held him accountable to getting on the phone with me to share 10 things in his life he was grateful for – at first he struggled but when he pushed through, he was amazed at the realization that his life isn’t as bad as he felt it was and he again realized all the love the surrounds him. Expressing gratitude is powerful – it turns what we already have into enough. I strongly encourage keeping a separate journal for gratitude and writing in it every single day. Right now, I am grateful for phone chats with my grandpa, healthy food, and learning the skills to build a website.
- YOUR DAILY HIGHS & LOWS – At the end of the day, reflect on the best part of your day and the worst part of your day. Self-reflection in this way will help you learn from your mistakes, celebrate wins, and gain new perspectives.
- LOG INSPIRATIONAL QUOTES – Happy words can brighten up your journal – have fun with lettering inspirational quotes, consider using colored markers and/or watercolors to brighten up the quotes in your journal to make then stand out. If you’d like, write out some self-reflections on your favorite quotes; Why are you drawn to that particular quote? Why does it resonate with you? Describe the lessons learned from that particular quote.
- DOCUMENT THOUGHTS AFTER YOGA OR MEDITATION – Combine these practices (yoga + meditation + journaling) to access the wisdom from the deeper layers of your being and develop a greater understanding of the messages they have to offer. Take a few minutes after yoga or meditation practice to jot down feelings and observations – let the words flow, vinyasa-style.
- RECALL YOUR DREAMS – We all dream at night—the problem is remembering what we dream about. If you write down your dreams as soon as you wake up, then you will be able to take a deeper look into them to see if there is a deeper meaning. Be sure to record the date of the dream so that if you look at it years from now, you can remember when you were having it.
- KEEP A TRAVEL JOURNAL – I recently met a gal who keeps a journal + watercolors in her bag at all times and when she meets people she’s inspired by during her travels, she invites them to write or paint in her journal. Keeping a similar travel journal of your own will prompt you to connect with new people, gather learnings from them, and create a keepsake full of beautiful memories.
- CREATE LISTS – Organizing tasks with a list can make everything more manageable and help you feel more grounded. In addition to To-Do lists, you can create more creative lists with headlines such as Things That Inspire Me, My Favorite Books To Read, Bucket List, Random Acts Of Kindness, Things You Want To Accomplish This year, and Newsworthy Items. The contents of lists can also be springboards for other journal entries. Tag or bookmark your lists so that you can develop them throughout the year.
- DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY – If you don’t have a clear picture of your perfect day how can you create meaningful goals to move closer to that day? Write down in detail your thoughts and descriptions of what that perfect day looks, feels, sounds and smells like.
- LOG YOUR MEALS AND/OR WORKOUTS – Keep a detailed account of everything you’ve eaten and everything you plan to eat for the rest of the day – no judging – and feel free to make it sound as fancy or as decadent as you want. Try including sensory details in your journal to motivate yourself to practice mindfulness while you’re eating. Use similar guidelines when logging your workouts – set goals, record your actions, track progress, and collect any other data that will help you improve your progress.
- WRITE A LOVE LETTER TO YOURSELF – Be a friend to yourself and write out some words that you need to hear. Nothing is more important than building a positive relationship with oneself and writing yourself a love note gives you the time and space to highlight that relationship. Pouring love towards ourselves reminds us why we matter and helps us focus on the things that make us special.
- WRITE NICE THINGS ABOUT SOMEONE YOU ARE ANGRY WITH – I know it’s easier to write about why you’re angry with someone, but try to avoid the negative and focus only on the positive things about this person. If no words come to mind, try writing about good things you want for this person. The more goodwill you exercise toward other people in writing, the easier it becomes to forgive them.
- WRITE ABOUT A TOPIC YOU’D LIKE TO KNOW MORE ABOUT – Find something you’re passionate about or interested in and you’ll discover that being enthusiastic about learning comes naturally. Developing skills and hobbies will not only make you a more interesting, well-rounded person, but it will also boost the quality of your life through added abilities and interests. Writing about a topic you’d like to know more about will encourage you to look for more information on the topic. When I wanted to learn more about the 7 Chakras, I focused on one at a time, googling and reading about them and journaling the pertinent information – I created a dedicated page in my journal for each chakra and used colored markers to bring each chakra to life in my journal.
Journaling can help in the management of personal adversity & change, and emphasize important patterns and growth in life. There are the obvious benefits, like a boost in mindfulness, memory and communication skills.
The journal prompts listed above are designed to inspire you or offer ideas of what to write about. Pick a few of these prompts – the ones that resonate with you the most – and get writing.
I suggest using things like stickers, colored markers, watercolors, dried flowers, or things that inspire you to make your journal pages more interesting and bring them to life.
Follow this (affiliate) link for some of my favorite journals & accessories: Journals