Starting a journal is easy, and if you are thinking of doing so to support your mental health, it’s a smart idea. It still strikes me as interesting that so many people are into journalling, and I really love that this has been popular. Journalling has been proven to help reduce stress and to support our mental health, and as someone who journaled daily for over a decade, I can certainly attest to the truth of this. In fact, my mental health really took a nose dive after I stopped journalling. It’s been a goal of mine for a while now to get back into journalling and to that end, I’ve tried several journalling styles.
Even though I used to journal all of the time, getting back into the habit has been tricky. Partly because my life has been full of change over the past two years. Late in 2019, I became engaged. In August of 2020, we married. In November of 2020, I became pregnant. In January of 2021, I had a huge scare with my metabolic condition. And in August of 2021, I gave birth to my son. Yeah, lots of change. Not to mention Covid hit in the middle of all of that. So establishing a consistent journalling routine has proved challenging.
But I am finally getting back into the groove and I want to share my tips for starting a journal.
Find the Perfect Notebook
For me, having a beautiful notebook is key when it come to motiviating me to journal. I love having notebooks, and it’s easy for me to find several that I love. Indigo has tons so that is my go to when I am looking for journals. Don’t overthink this purchase too much, perfect doesn’t perfect. I just mean, find one that makes you happy, one that brings a smile to your face, or that sparks your imagination in some way.
Decide What Kind of Journal You are Keeping
Starting a journal for your mental health can be daunting. I think I avoided it for years because I just didn’t want to face the problems I faced daily. But, to help you with this, decide what kind of journal you want. Are you bullet journalling? Free writing? Keeping a gratuide journal? Perhaps you are interested in guided journalling. Whatever you chose, make sure you get a journal that fits that style. For a bullet journal for example, you will likely want a notebook with dotted pages. You’ll need a guided journal with prompts if that is something you are interested in. Otherwise, a simple lined notebook might do.
Markers, Pens, and More
You’re going to need journalling supplies. Personally, I don’t fuss too much, but you might want brush pens or markers if you are bullet journalling, and even washi tape and stickers. I’ve tried bullet journalling, and I enjoyed it, but I think I put too much pressure on myself as well, and gave it up after a couple of months. It is something I may try again in the future however. Whatever kind of journal you want to keep, make sure you have the supplies for it.
Find a Quiet Place and Time to Journal
You might need to carve out time to journal. Will it be first thing in the morning? Just before bed? Whatever time you chose, be sure to try and journal at that same time every day for about two to three weeks so that journalling becomes a habit. If you forget a day, no worries, just pick it up again the next day. It will become a habit!
What to Write
You need to write what is meaningful to you. It could be about your day, something that is bothering you, affirmations, what you felt today and what prompted those feelings. If you are bullet journalling, you might want to track your moods, record self care goals and ideas, include a workout page. Really, anything goes. It’s your journal.
Be sure to write down your feelings and thoughts honestly. Being vulnerable can be hard, but being vulnerable with yourself through journalling really helps with producing the emotional catharsis that reduces stress. And that is the whole purpose of journalling, to support your mental health.
Keep it Private
Journals are not meant to be shared. So be sure to keep this in a private place–hide it if you must! I think most people are good about respecting boundaries, but if there is someone you live with that you fear will read your journal, don’t let that stop you from reaping the benefits of journalling. Just hide your journal.
I chose to keep a guided journal after the birth of Baby J, chronicling the first 90 days after birth for first time moms and I really have loved journalling every day. I did forget from time to time to journal, but it has helped me get back into the habit and I think I finally have my journalling groove back. And I’m very grateful that Baby J could inspire and push me into back into journalling. I am pretty sure I will be journalling from now on. Journalling was a huge part of my life as a pre teen, teen and well into my twenties and I am so glad to really be back in the habit as the mental health benefits are amazing.
Are you going to start a journal to support your mental health? Share your thoughts!