How to Start Journaling 

I’ve recently started journaling. In fact very recently – I have so far written a grand total of 3 entries. The hardest thing was writing that first journal entry. I’ve been wanting to try journaling for ages, but I wasn’t really sure how to start. So I thought I’d put together a little guide for anyone else out there who’s also trying to begin their journaling journey.

Create a Routine

Figure out a journaling routine which feels right for you. Then commit yourself to a dedicated journal time and stick to it. This was definitely the part which I found the most intimidating when I was trying to get started. I always thought you had to journal every day, which was putting me off – it just felt like such a big commitment finding time every single day to sit and write down my thoughts.

Person holding a calendar in front of her mouth and nose- Happy Mind Training Blog | How to Start Journaling

But then I realised, who says you have to journal every day? It’s your journal, you do it how you want to! So instead I decided to commit to once a week which felt a lot more manageable. And now I have a Sunday morning journal routine – I sit down after breakfast with a cup of tea and reflect on the week that’s just passed.

Set the Scene

When we’re journaling we need to be in a calm, relaxing space, so we can think and reflect without distractions. I think this is actually the part of the process I enjoy the most. I like to light a nice scented candle, put on some relaxing background music, and create an environment which feels really peaceful.

Woman sitting on a bed writing on a notebook- Happy Mind Training Blog | How to Start Journaling

I also found this process of creating a different atmosphere really helped me to switch into a different headspace and relax into writing. Maybe for you that’s snuggling up under a cosy blanket on the sofa, or perhaps you’d prefer getting out into nature and sitting in a favourite spot. The main thing to remember is journaling is self-care, so make it feel as loving and indulgent as you can!

Decide How You Want to Journal

I had no idea there were so many different journaling techniques out there. I always thought of the ‘Dear diary…’ approach. Which to be honest, I sort of loved in a nostalgic way! But you don’t have to stick to that formal approach – it can just be a stream of consciousness, or a short summary of your day and how you’re feeling. You can even have a journal which is more like a gratitude log, where you jot down a few things you felt grateful for that day. It also doesn’t have to be pages and pages of thoughts. My first journal entry was only about a paragraph long.

Close up of a person about to start writing on a notebook- Happy Mind Training Blog | How to Start Journaling

As I said earlier, the main thing is –  it’s your journal, you get to choose how you want to write it! Maybe play around with a few techniques at the start and see which one feels most comfortable for you.

Try out Some Journaling Prompts

Whenever I write something, the hardest part is always the first sentence. There’s something so intimidating about staring at a blank page, and I don’t think I’m alone in that feeling! This is where journaling prompts come in handy – they give you a starting point. 

Sticky note with a lightbulb drawn on it - Happy Mind Training Blog | How to Start Journaling

I took to google (always my starting point for anything!) and found a few which resonated with me. Most of them were from this page here which lists out 25 journaling prompts – so plenty to get you started! The thing I liked most about that list was the fact that they were all framed in a way which led with positivity. Here’s 5 of my favourites from that list if you just want a handful to get you started;

  • What is something I am grateful for right now?
  • What is something that has made me happy recently?
  • What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
  • What is something you love about yourself?
  • What have I accomplished recently that I am proud of?

Just get started

The best way to get started is just to, well, start. Try to let go of any perfectionism – grammar, spelling, handwriting – none of those things matter here. And try not to feel self-conscious or embarrassed about what you’re writing. This is your journal, for your eyes only! What’s in there is none of anyone else’s business. So try to let go of any self-consciousness and just let the words flow.

Dirt road with the word "start" written on it -Happy Mind Training Blog | How to Start Journaling

It also really doesn’t matter what your first journal entry is about. I think this was something which was definitely holding me back – I felt like I needed some big life moment to happen to inspire me. But that’s not what journaling is about! It’s meant to be a place where your mundane thoughts and those bigger emotions and feelings are equally welcome.

I wrote my first journal entry during a very quiet Sunday, where the most exciting thing that had happened that week was finally changing an awkward lightbulb after a year of putting it off. Yes really. (Although actually I still stand by the fact that it felt like a pretty big achievement!).

So if you’re looking for a sign to finally start journaling, then this is it! And if you want to dig into this a bit deeper then our Hack your Habits training course could help you stick to your new journaling routine.

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