If you’ve spent any amount of time in the personal development space, you’ve likely come across the significance and popularity of journaling practices. Now more than ever, it’s important to add a journaling practice to your routine if you don’t journal regularly already.
According to the University of Rochester Medical Center, many health benefits stem from journaling practices, including reducing stress, mood improvement due to the organization of one’s thoughts, and anxiety management and reduction. Verywell Mind also suggests that journaling about traumatic events can help an individual process the event entirely by using both hemispheres of the brain.
Think of journaling the same way you thought of your childhood diary if you kept one. Engaging in a healthy journaling practice allows you to dump all of your thoughts, concerns, fears, and emotions from your brain and onto paper. And whether you’re journaling your way through a traumatic event, or everyday life, the benefits of this practice are unrivaled and indisputable. Ready to get started? Follow these tips to add a journaling practice to your routine.
How to Add a Journaling Practice to Your Routine
1. Identify or purchase a journal to dedicate to your practice
Don’t use this journal for anything other than your journaling practice (so, no grocery lists, to-do lists, etc.).
If you’re anything like me, you might have a handful of new, unopened journals on hand suitable for your practice. If not, treat yourself to a new journal if you’re able. It doesn’t have to be anything fancy or expensive, just something you’ll feel comfortable writing in and using day after day. Remember to choose a journal you can dedicate strictly to your new journaling practice and won’t have the urge to use for other tasks.
2. Examine your routine to determine where your new practice best fits in
Try to stay consistent with your journaling time while you’re building the habit.
Think about your current routine and where you’d like your journaling practice to fit in as part of it. Try to avoid squeezing journal time in “when you have the time,” and make time upfront to dedicate to your new ritual. Here are a few thought-starters to get you started when envisioning where this fits into your current routine:
- Are you a morning or a night person? Do you have time in the morning or the evenings currently that you can dedicate to journaling?
- When will I be most consistent? Mornings? Afternoons? Evening?
- Is there an established ritual I currently practice that this pairs well with? For example, if you do yoga before bed regularly, you could add a few minutes before or after yoga to complete your journal entry for the day.
3. Establish your journaling time and practice as a judgment-free zone and commit to being honest with yourself
Once you have a dedicated journal and a plan for incorporating your practice into your daily routine, you’re ready to get started. But before you do, it’s essential to establish and reinforce to yourself that your journal is a judgment-free zone. Your writing doesn’t have to be perfect. Your journal entry doesn’t have to sound or feel a certain way. What’s most important is that you’re honest with yourself regarding how you’re feeling, things you might be struggling with, and what fears you want to overcome. You won’t gain anything from consistently writing that you’re happy and feeling great (unless that’s genuinely how you feel, of course). Your journal is a private, sacred space, so trust yourself to open up.
4. Set your alarm, a reminder, or add your journaling practice to your calendar and stick to it
Now that you have your desired timeframe to dedicate to journaling in mind make it happen! Get out your planner, digital calendar, alarm clock reminders, or whatever other scheduling tools you use. Pre-schedule that time and consider it non-negotiable so you can stay committed to your practice free from interruption and distraction.
It’s worthwhile to think about how many days you are going to commit to as well. You don’t have to jump straight to a daily practice if that isn’t ideal for you. Don’t overwhelm yourself or overcommit because you may quickly lose interest in journaling if it feels like too much of a hassle right out the gate.
5. Identify or develop writing prompts that you can lean on if you get stuck.
Hopefully, over time you’ll start to feel that freewriting comes naturally, and you’ll be able to identify areas that you want to focus on as part of your journaling practice. In the meantime, or if you would prefer to use prompts regularly in place of freewriting, identify or develop prompts and write them in your journal so you can refer back to them. Prompts will vary for each individual depending on what you want to get out of your practice, but here are a few thought-starters to consider:
- How are you feeling today? Describe your current mood in three words.
- Is there anything on your mind that’s bothering you right now? Any fears? Any stress?
- What are you thankful for in this moment?
- Is there a fear holding you back right now?
- Is there an area of your life you’d like to focus on? (think relationships, professional development, personal growth, etc.)
Are you planning on incorporating a journaling practice into your routine? Let us know in the comments!