Body, Mind & Spirit

Honoring Your Feelings: 5 Tips for Starting a Journal

Published on February 26, 2019

Article by Lisa Truesdale

If you’re eager to start journaling, there’s only one essential rule: There are no rules.

Everyone’s reason for journaling is different, and that’s okay. For some people, journaling is a way to get in touch with their deepest emotions as they struggle with depression, anxiety or difficult decisions.

According to a recent article in Psychology Today, journaling “helps bring order to your deepest thoughts and fears and enables you to learn from the person who knows you best: you.” The article goes on say that journaling can also “reduce pain, improve depression, and even lower markers of inflammation.”

For others, journaling might be about expressing their daily feelings of gratitude or setting goals and tracking their progress on reaching those goals. Some people like to write down their thoughts to gain clarity when making a decision, large or small, or to document the story of their life for their children and grandchildren. In some cases, journaling is simply a chance to express feelings about how their day went, whether it was good or not-so-good.

Whatever your reasons for wanting to journal, here are five tips for getting started:

1. Clarify your reason for journaling

It could be one of the reasons above, or it might be something different altogether. When you first start writing, it will help the words flow if you’re clear about why you’re doing it. The good news is that your reason can (and will) definitely change, even from one journaling session to the next. (And that’s okay, because it’s your journal and there are no rules!)

2. Choose your method

Putting pen to paper the “old-fashioned way” is cathartic for some and a “must” for journaling purists, but it’s not the only way to express your feelings. If you can’t handwrite your thoughts for any reason, or you just prefer not to, technology offers a myriad of great options. You can type a journal on your computer, speak your thoughts into an audio-recording device, or use one of the dozens of handy journaling apps. Find the method that’s most comfortable for you, because that’s the method that will help you to maintain a regular journaling routine.

3. Set a regular journaling routine

Morning people who keep a journal of daily intentions might find that writing upon waking up is the most natural for them. Night owls, however, may discover that writing before bed helps them make better sense of the experiences they had during the day—although rehashing negative events could also induce a sleepless night of “what ifs.” You can also jot your thoughts down in the middle of the day, perhaps during lunch or your afternoon break. Find what works for you and try to stick to it so that it becomes routine, but don’t be afraid to switch it up if it’s not working.

4. Get help if you need it

During some journaling sessions, you’ll know exactly what you want to write about, and the words will flow freely (and you might not be able to stop them). But there will also be days when you feel stuck—pen hovering over paper or hand pausing over computer keyboard. Luckily, there are numerous journaling apps that offer inspiration in the form of daily writing prompts, such as “What would you do if you were able to time travel?” or “Which person from history would you most like to meet and talk to?” Writing prompts are there to help you get unstuck on your stuck days, and they may provide inspiration for creating writing prompts of your own.

5. Just write

Simply let the words flow freely, without worrying about little things such as grammar or spelling, or big things such as “Oh no, did I really say that?” Your journal is for your eyes only, and the only opinion that matters is yours!

To learn more about the benefits of journaling, read Why Journaling Will Make You More Creative.

Published on: February 26, 2019

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