Did you ever keep a journal as a kid? If so, then it was likely one of those little hardcover notebooks with the lock and key. Maybe it even said “Keep Out” on the cover.
Fast forward to your grownup self and journaling is significantly different. It is more than just a recounting of your day. Instead, it is a few therapeutic moments that are meant to actually help you grow.
Let’s talk about the different types of daily journals there are and how to keep a daily journal.
If you find yourself wondering whether you should invest any time and effort into journaling, the answer is – without a doubt – yes! There are so many benefits that come with getting in the habit, such as managing anxiety, reducing stress, coping with depression, and so forth.
Journaling can also:
- Help you address your fears, problems, and concerns.
- Help you track your symptoms so that you may learn to recognize triggers – and develop ways to learn how to control them in the future.
- Teach you to develop positive self-talk while identifying patterns of negative thoughts and behaviors.
Many avid journalists look to their journals as a way to escape. It is like that go-to bestie who isn’t going to give you advice or drone on and on about how her problems are worse than yours. Your journal will listen to anything and everything you have to say which can be healing in itself.
Not all types of journaling will work for everyone. Find what fits for you – and give it a try. You may be surprised just how greatly it impacts your life.
How to Keep a Daily Journal
How you journal is going to vary based on the type of journaling you do. We will get to the different types of journaling in just a moment. But, in a general sense, to begin journaling, you will want to:
- Get a Journal. Invest in a notebook or formal journal. You don’t need anything fancy — just something you can write on. You can even make your own.
- Commit to Journaling. Commit to writing every day. You may want to set aside time to write during a specific time of day. Or you may even choose to carry your journal with you to jot down thoughts as you have them.
- Keep it simple. The process of journaling is not meant to overwhelm you, but to help you. So keep it simple and informal.
By journaling, you are taking control of your thoughts. You are blocking out all the chaos around you — and focusing your attention on one thing – yourself. It is good for your mind, body, and soul.
Now, on to the different types of journaling.
A Gratitude Journal
Gratitude journaling is about focusing on the things you are grateful for. You don’t have to use a lot of words. Morning and/or night (or whenever you find it suitable) give yourself a few minutes to reflect on life right here, at this moment, and what you are thankful for. Then, grab your pen and jot down at least 3 things you are grateful for.
Keeping a gratitude journal can help shift your mindset and help you start looking at the world, life, and yourself in a more positive light.
A Self-Reflective Journal
A self-reflective journal is not so much about writing down your daily activities, but rather reflecting back on your day – or any time in your life, really. Think about how you reacted in certain situations or how you felt in others. Write down what you think about certain situations or how you see yourself acting differently in the future.
This is a way of getting to know yourself and learn about who you are, what your strengths and weaknesses are, your triggers, your goals for the future, and maybe even a chance to forgive yourself for past choices. Everything you write within these pages is a conversation with yourself – and about yourself.
Self-reflective journaling is great for learning and growing. When you are going through changes in your life that are scary, sometimes reassuring yourself that you are strong and capable can help you overcome it.
A Free Writing Journal
Freewriting is something you will either love or hate. But it is a way of journaling that helps you remove all the nonsense in your active, conscious mind and really get under the surface of your thought process. Here’s how it works.
Designate a certain amount of time each day for free writing. Then, set a timer for that amount. Grab your pen and start writing. What are you writing? It’s free writing. Just let your pen lead you. Don’t put any thought into the words that hit the page, just write. Let it out. All of it. Don’t worry about punctuation or grammar or spelling. Just write.
This exercise is fantastic for unveiling feelings and emotions we may not even realize we are holding on to. Sometimes things you haven’t thought of in years can come pouring out of you and onto the page. It is such a release – and very therapeutic.
The more you get comfortable with freewriting, the less you need to worry about setting a timer. At first, this type of journal experience can seem weird because we are usually always trying to be in control of our thoughts. So the time helps you set boundaries of when to let go and when to bring it back. But the more you practice it, the easier it becomes, and the better you will feel.
Final Thoughts on Journaling
As you begin your journey through healing, you are going to spend a lot of time reflecting on your life while finding healing within yourself. Journaling is a great way to stay connected with your thoughts and gather insight into your overall sense of wellbeing. Whether you choose to start a gratitude journal, a self-reflective journal, a freewriting journal, or a combination of any or all of them – you are sure to find that this is a great tool to have.