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How to start journaling

So you want to start journaling but where do you start? Where do you write it? How do you write it? What do you write about? Need some journal prompt ideas? I got you.

Journaling (and expressing yourself in general) can seem a little awkward at first. But if you keep doing it, it can start to become natural and your thoughts can flow out of you in a very relieving way.

Like all things in my self care toolbox, journaling can be so helpful-- even on days that you don't think it will be.

I started to journal after my mom died. I was given the journal right when it happened and it took me 2 months to even consider opening it up. I didn't think it was going to help, it wasn't "my thing". After talking with my boyfriend and my friends about their experiences/dabbles with journaling, I decided to give it a try. I remember having no idea where to start or what to say.

Overtime, I have had conversations with a variety of people about journaling and so many of them helped to evolve my journaling practice. I've learned that there truly is no right way to do it. Whatever works for you, whatever you feel like doing, in that moment, can be helpful-- if you want it to be.

Journaling has become a very important and helpful piece of my self care routine. I hope that sharing the ways I like to journal, will inspire you to give it a try or keep going!

Where to Journal

First, let's talk location. I personally find it easiest to journal in a quiet room or area. Sometimes with a little background music on. (I prefer music without words when I'm journaling.)

I know that alone, quiet time isn't always an option though. So in those cases, I try to at least make myself physically comfortable by sitting somewhere cozy, warm and/or where the sunlight is.

What to Journal with

We are very fortunate to be living in 2022 where there are so many different journaling options!

If you're like me, and fortunately live in a space where your privacy is respected without question, you can journal pretty much anywhere. If you need help with making sure that your journal entries are safe and confidential, there are tons of free ways to do that too!

Regular Pen/Pencil and Paper/Notebook

This is probably the first way that comes to mind when thinking about journaling. I journaled this way for a while before I decided to explore other options. I personally find the act of physically writing to be very therapeutic. Some privacy tips for this type of journaling is to hide it in a place that only you know about and/or get a notebook with a lock.

Type on laptop/computer/phone/tablet etc

While I find physically writing therapeutic, I also find that it hurts my hand after a while and sometimes my writing speed can't keep up with the speed of my brain. So I also journal on a blank document or note so that I can get my thoughts out faster. This is very helpful when I have a lot on my mind. Many of the free "notes" applications, on whatever device you use, give you the ability to lock/ put a password or code to protect your privacy.

Use a journal app

There are tons of free and not free journaling apps out there! Many of them come with built in privacy protectors and journal prompts. I just personally haven't used any of them so I'm not going to recommend any to you at this time. If you have one that you love, please share it with me and I'm open to checking them out!

Ways to Journal

Here are my favorite ways to journal depending on my mood/situation in the moment.

Brain Dump

You know when you have a million things on your mind? Or you can't stop your mind from circling around a certain subject/ situation? Or when you seriously need to vent/let out your frustration? Writing down your thoughts and feelings will really help you get those thoughts organized in your head. It doesn't even have to be full sentences or make sense, just let it all out. Many times, you will realize how it's not that bad or that much. Even if you don't come to that conclusion, writing it down can slow down the mental gymnastics that you have going on.

Gratitude lists

Simply make a list of at least 3 things that you are grateful for. Feel free to make the list as long or as short as you feel necessary.


Writing after you meditate can be very beneficial and make your mediation practice even more effective. Some mediations have journal prompts that can give you inspiration for writing. Or you can just writing about some thing or things that come to mind during your meditation.

Morning thoughts

You could write about any dreams you just experienced or something that you woke up thinking about. This could also be when you plan your day or make a list of things you want to do.

Daily/Weekly/Monthly recaps

Writing whatever you want to talk about that happened that day, week, or month. Possibly reflecting, possibly complaining. Maybe it's things that you want to remember, maybe it's things that you don't.

Daily Affirmations

Positive phrases and/or quotes that you can remember throughout the day to help you keep going. I like to save, write down and/or screenshot phrases and quotes that I like so I can refer back to them when I need to hear them most.

Manifestations/goal setting

This is when you write down what you want for yourself. These could be short term, long term, near future, or distant future. Get clear, get specific, really think about it and write out those thoughts. Go into as much or as little detail as you feel. This is also great place to not only write about what you want in life but also how you are going to go about reaching those goals.

Creativity Dump

Very similar to the brain dump, this can be a great space to write out your thoughts or ideas about a topic. No matter how practical or impractical it may seem. I encourage you to get as detailed as you can and see where your mind takes you. It can be fun and take your attention away from your current reality if you're in need of a shift. You may also stumble upon some awesome ideas/concepts that you have floating around in that intelligent mind of yours😊

I hope this helps and inspires you to either start, re-start, or continue to journal!


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