Starting and sustaining a journaling habit can be daunting. Whether it’s a struggle to find time for yourself in a busy day, or you can’t break the feeling that there isn’t much to say, making time for this act of self-care may not be at the top of your to-do list. Take a look at the extensive research around journaling, however, and you’ll find that this simple practice can have an outsized impact on your mental health, creativity, and more. Today we’re walking you through why you should consider keeping a daily journal, the benefits you might see over time, how to make the habit stick, and some writing prompts to get your started.
5 Reasons You Should Start a Journal Right Now
- Reduce stress and increase your wellbeing—Long-term journaling has proved to lessen stress and anxiety. When writing, you're able to externally process events and emotions, giving you more objectivity about your own thoughts. If you’re going through a particularly challenging time, physically writing it down can help you realize solutions that never occurred to you before, or help foster a sense of acceptance and peace.
- Achieve long-term goals—The first step to goal-setting is to define the outcome you want. Once you’ve outlined the specific action steps needed to get you there, journaling can act as a form of accountability, reminding you to check in with your progress and stay on track.
- Strengthen memories—At Appointed, our love of the classic pen and paper is driven by its practicality and effectiveness—the act of physically writing something down helps us remember things better (illustrated even in recent studies), process complex tasks more clearly, and provides space to explore new ideas. Interestingly, a clinical trial from 2001 found that expressive writing (like journaling) can increase our working memory capacity—important to reasoning and decision-making.
- Inspire new ideas—The simple act of writing with a pen and paper can transform your creativity. Giving yourself the time and space to explore your thoughts free of digital distractions could be just what you need to ignite your next great idea.
- Create an archive—Sticking with a journaling habit will make it easy to see your progress over time, as you slowly but surely fill the pages with daily entries. Flipping through the pages of your journal can serve as an archive of your mindset during a particular time, or even as a simple record of your day-to-day life.
Our Top Tips For Getting Started
- Pair your habits—When starting a new habit or routine, try pairing the new behavior in with an already established routine. For example, if I have coffee at the kitchen table every morning, I might set a goal to journal at the same time.
- Create a peaceful space—A quiet, calm space that is free of distractions from your phone or devices is ideal for a journaling practice.
- Set a timer—Starting small is always a good idea when implementing a new habit, so try setting a timer for 3-5 minutes the first week when it’s time to journal. This way you’ll get a feel for how quickly the time can fly by and not overcommit when you’re just starting out.
- Choose tools that inspire—We know that the tools you use can have a huge impact on your attention. Looking forward to using your favorite notebook and pen can inspire you to get creative and stick with it.
- Explore different styles to find what works for you—Whether it’s a simple retelling of the day's events, a stream-of-consciousness practice, a response to a prompt, or a single sentence, your journal is what you make it.
Journaling Prompts for Everyday
- List 1-3 things you’re grateful for today.
- When today did you feel most at peace?
- What is something new you learned today?
- What has inspired you recently?
- Name 1 thing you’re looking forward to.
- What are your top 3 goals or priorities for the month? What small actions can you take tomorrow to make them happen?
- What are 2-3 activities that help you relax?
- How would you describe yourself? How would a close friend or loved one describe you?
- Describe your perfect day.
- What advice would you give to your teenage self?
- Describe the last dream you can remember.
- What are your strengths in relationships?
- What about your work feels fulfilling or important?
- Name a recent triumph or success that you’re proud of.
- What values are most important to you? Have your values changed over time?
Now is the time to begin a journey of self-discovery and creativity with a journaling practice. Check out our brand new subscription program, Appointed Post, for best-in-class notebooks delivered on your schedule (and never miss another great idea). Happy journaling!