Wondering How to Start Journaling? Here Are Some Expert Tips

published Jan 3, 2023
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
Post Image
Credit: Who is Danny

While there are plenty of expensive wellness practices being touted by “influencers” on social media, some of the most beneficial ones are actually free (think: walking outside and  getting eight hours of sleep). One of our favorites is journaling, which allows people of all interests and personality types to express themselves and find balance in their lives anytime, anywhere. From what journaling actually is to its benefits and tips for how to get started, we’re here to help you make this highly beneficial practice a healthy habit in no time.

What Is Journaling?

thoughts, and experiences in whatever form or fashion they choose. There is no specific format to follow or style of writing required. Instead, journaling is about processing one’s emotions or pursuing personal development.  Although becoming a better writer isn’t the primary goal of journaling, that  may happen along the way if it becomes habitual!

Benefits of Journaling

You may be surprised to learn that incorporating a regular journaling practice is associated with numerous physical and mental health benefits. A 2005 study published by the University of Cambridge found that participants who practiced expressive writing—through the form of journaling—self-reported health outcomes such as fewer stress-related doctor visits,  improved immune, lung, and liver function; reduced blood pressure; and a greater feeling of psychological well-being. The participants also reported  improved performance at work and greater confidence in social situations. 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)  journaling could  help give us  a better understanding of who we  are and what we  want to achieve. Journaling could also help determine  strengths and weaknesses, clarify  thoughts and feelings, solve  problems, and even recognize  successes. Plus, journaling may help  identify and manage stress, something  we could all use in our mental health toolkits.

Tips to Start Journaling

Credit: Photo: Christopher Testani; Prop Styling: Carla Gonzalez Hart; Nails: Mamie Onishi; Rug: Courtesy of Aelfie

We asked Chesbrough “Chesie” Roberts, MS, ADC, LPC, founder and principal therapist at CLR Counseling Group in Birmingham, Alabama, about some tips for aspiring journalers (for personal use). 

There’s no “right” time to practice journaling.

Robert’s  biggest advice is to play up your strengths in order to turn journaling into a habit you’ll actually stick to. While some people are great at waking up early with a cup of coffee to reflect on life, Roberts recognizes that may not be realistic for everyone .  Whether you’re a night owl or early bird, there’s no  specific time or way to journal that’s better than any other. 

Start your day with a list of simple questions.

“I give my clients a very simple daily ‘good things’ question list to answer at the end of each day, ” says Roberts. She asks  her clients to post this list of self-esteem building questions somewhere that  can be easily seen each morning and at least one other time during the day, such as on the fridge. From there, her clients can reflect deeper through journaling, whether it’s  upon waking, during lunch, or before going to sleep.  To stimulate your writing habit, try starting with a daily list of questions  built around your personal goals, whether that’s  building confidence, dealing with anxiety, or simply being more present in your daily life. 

Reflect with gratitude journaling.

If you’re looking for some structure to help you stick to a journaling practice, consider trying a gratitude journal to help build your positivity in mere minutes a day. 

Organize your thoughts with bullet journaling.

Busy bees may benefit from starting off with bullet journaling, which can help you stick to any personal goals such as building up your fitness and health or developing stronger relationships in your work and social circles. 

Or, just dive in!

“I have found that we don’t have to journal these eloquent paragraphs reflecting on our lives with a perfect notebook and fancy pen for success,” says Roberts. Simply grab a journal, pick up a set of pens or pencils, and get to writing!