Wellness Warrior

6 Simple Things To Know Before Starting A Journal.

Journaling has so many benefits for your mental health, that it’s easy to see why it has become so popular. We have come a long way from the “Dear Dairy’ type of journal and it can be therapeutic in many different ways. Before you think about picking up your journal and making this a sustainable self care practice, here are a few things to know before starting a journal. These are things I wish someone had told me and that have come forward in my own journaling journey.

things to know before starting a journal
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The benefits of starting a journal.

I’m sure that if you’re reading this article, you already have an idea of how beneficial journaling can be for your mental health. But just in case you aren’t 100% sure yet, here are a few benefits of journaling. Journaling has changed my life in so many ways and will surely do the same for you.

  • Safe space for self-reflection: Journaling gives you a safe space to explore your thoughts, emotions and experiences without judgment.
  • Helps reduce stress: Writing in a journal can help reduce stress by serving as a therapeutic outlet for expressing worries, anxieties, and frustrations.
  • Helps you clear your mind: Organizing your thoughts on paper can lead to clearer thinking and problem-solving, helping you gain perspective on complex issues.
  • Emotional healing: Journaling can help with emotional healing by processing past traumas, resolving conflicts, and promoting self-compassion.
  • Tracks your goals and achievements: Keeping a journal can help you clarify your goals, track your progress, and stay motivated to achieve them.
  • Improved mental health: Studies have shown that journaling can improve mental health by reducing symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD.
  • Strengthens gratitude: Having a gratitude journal can create a positive mindset by focusing on the blessings and abundance in your life.
  • Emotional regulation: Journaling serves as a tool for emotional regulation, helping you manage difficult emotions, regulate mood, and cultivate resilience.

Things to know before starting a journal.

Journaling is a great experience and a way to be able to get to know yourself and your goals in life better. It is so much more than writing your feelings or experiences of the day down in a book and it can be a great asset in your life. These are a few things I wish I had known before starting a journal!

1. Know what type of journal you want to keep.

Before even thinking or picking up your pen and starting to write, you need to decide what type of journal will best suit your personality. Journaling isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of thing. Choosing the right journal is such an important part of your writing experience. Consider factors like size, paper quality, binding, and whether you prefer lined, blank, or dotted pages. Choose a journal that feels comfortable and inspires you to write consistently. Besides the physical difference in journals, there are different types of journaling styles to choose from too.

Different types of journals:

  • Traditional journal: A classic journal where you write daily entries reflecting on your thoughts, feelings, experiences, and observations.
  • Gratitude journal: A journal dedicated to recording things you’re grateful for each day, fostering a positive mindset and appreciation for life’s blessings.
  • Dream journal: A journal for recording and analyzing your dreams, providing insight into your subconscious mind and dream patterns.
  • Travel journal: A journal to document your travels, including experiences, adventures, memories, and reflections from various destinations.
  • Art journal: A creative journal that combines writing with visual art, such as drawings, paintings, collages, and mixed media, to express emotions and ideas.
  • Bullet journal: A customizable journaling system that combines planning, organization, and creativity through bullet points, trackers, calendars, and collections.
  • Fitness journal: A journal for tracking your exercise routines, diet, fitness goals, progress, and achievements, helping you stay motivated and accountable.
  • Reading journal: A journal to record your thoughts, insights, and reflections on books you’ve read, including summaries, favorite quotes, and recommendations.
  • Idea journal: A journal for capturing and developing creative ideas, brainstorming sessions, project plans, and innovative solutions to problems.

2. Find a routine that works for you.

When you are just starting a journal, it doesn’t come naturally and isn’t part of your daily routine yet. Consistency is key when it comes to journaling. Set aside dedicated time each day or week to write in your journal. Whether it’s first thing in the morning, during your lunch break, or before bed, find a routine that works for you and stick to it. It takes time to form a new habit and if you don’t have a dedicated time set aside for yourself, you forget all about journaling as soon as life gets busy.

3. It’s never going to be perfect.

If there’s one thing you need to accept early on in this journey, it’s that your journal is going to be messy. Your journal doesn’t have to be perfect. Embrace imperfection and allow yourself to write freely without judgment. Remember, your journal is a safe space for expressing your thoughts and emotions without fear of criticism. Once you start writing about something you feel strongly about, your pen might struggle to keep up with your mind and your writing may not look as great anymore. Messy things in life can be beautiful too, so don’t be too hard on yourself. Your journal is for your eyes only, so being messy from time to time won’t hurt anyone.

messy journal

RELATED: The Powerful Benefits Of Journaling Daily.

4. You don’t need to stick with one type of journal.

Journaling isn’t a commitment that you have to make and there are different ways to express yourself when the feeling arises. Journaling doesn’t have to be limited to pen and paper. Explore different mediums like digital journals, voice recordings, or art journals. Find the medium that sparks your creativity and makes journaling enjoyable for you. When I am overwhelmed by emotion, I often grab my phone, open the notepad and just start typing. The instant relief it gives me is incredible and it goes a long way in dealing with those emotions. You can even grab your phone and make a voice recording to create your own little personal podcast!

5. Be honest with yourself.

When I first thought about starting a journal I was terrified that someone might read my journal and that stopped me from being brutally honest for a long time. There’s no point in starting a journal if you aren’t planning on being honest about your feelings and thoughts. Often we tend to bottle up our emotions and being able to release those feelings on page can give you a sense of calmness you might not have experienced before.

The people around you are more supportive of your privacy than you might think, but if you are still on the rocks about sharing your emotions on page, try going for a lockable journal or even a smart journal that can scan into your phone.

6. Use journal prompts for inspiration.

When you are starting a journal, it can be tough to stay consistent because you run out of things to write about. That’s where journal prompts come in. Prompts can give you inspiration and guidance for your journal entries when you’re fresh out of ideas because not every day you have might be journal worthy. You can find journal prompts online, in books, or create your own based on your interests and goals.

Journal prompts are also a way to expand your horizons and get to know yourself in ways you might never have thought of. I often turn to journal prompts and am always surprised by my answers. I have learned so much about things I never thought about.

Examples of journal prompts you can use:

  • Reflect on three things that brought you joy today and why.
  • Describe a recent challenge you faced and how you overcame it.
  • Write a letter to your future self, expressing hope and encouragement.
  • List five things you’re grateful for right now and why they’re important to you.
  • Explore a recent setback or disappointment and what you learned from it.
  • Describe a moment when you felt proud of yourself and your accomplishments.
  • Identify one negative thought or belief you’d like to challenge and reframe it in a positive light.
  • Write about a time when you felt overwhelmed and how you managed to cope.
  • List your strengths and qualities that you appreciate about yourself.
  • Reflect on a past mistake or regret and explore what you gained from the experience.
  • Write about a happy memory from your childhood and how it shaped who you are today.
  • Describe your ideal day, including activities that bring you peace, joy, and fulfillment.
  • Write a list of self-care activities that help you feel rejuvenated and balanced.
  • Reflect on a time when you felt misunderstood or unsupported and how you can advocate for your needs in the future.
  • Write down three things you can do today to prioritize your mental health and well-being.
journal prompts for mental health


Starting a journal is a powerful step toward greater self-awareness, creativity, and personal growth. Don’t be afraid to let loose your emotions and get to know yourself on a deeper level. So, grab your pen and paper, or whatever medium speaks to you, and start writing your story.

Happy Writing,

Your Wellness Warrior!

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