As discussed in our previous post Journaling: Why and How you need to journal now, a journal is an excellent self-care tool to help manage your mental health. The positive effects have been proven and keeping a journal will help to reduce stress, manage anxiety, and help in coping with depression.
But some days you open your journal, see that blank page sitting in front of you and simply don’t know where to begin. If you’re new to journaling then that blank page can be even more daunting, and cause you to simply give up (hint, you might enjoy our Journal 101 which will help you begin your journaling habit and to build a practice that works for you, and that will remain with you forever).
So let’s take a quick look into what you might want to journal. At a top level, and as we said in our previous post, there are 3 main overall types of journaling:
- A Gratitude Journal where each day you list aspects for which you are grateful. This builds a positive mood by focusing on the good that you already have in your life and has been shown to build long-term resilience and works as an excellent aid to relieving stress. You also then have a record of the great things that have happened to you in the past that you can review if you’re ever feeling down in order to boost your mood.
- Emotional Journal of the events that occurred throughout the day, and how you were feeling and responded emotionally throughout. This helps with processing what occurred and allows the exploration of options for dealing with it and finding more positive ways to frame your response. Maximising the positive and good, and managing the negative areas of your daily life, is another excellent way to manage stress.
- Personal planning and Bullet Journaling by using your journal to plan your day and track your short and long-term goals. This will allow you to be more organised, will allow your mind to be less cluttered and more balanced, and again feel less stressed.
Remember there is no restriction, you can, and would probably want to, explore any combination of these in your daily journaling.
Next is to think about the sort of content that you might wish to be journaling about within these overall areas. If you need some inspiration, here are some ideas of the topics that you might want to explore in more detail.
PRODUCTIVITY: Planning out your day (or longer term) and putting in plans, actions and milestones to help you achieve your goals. Utilising to-do lists, blocking out time slots for specific tasks, and setting daily (or longer term) tasks and goals. Planning and preparing for homework, projects or business planning. Listing out actions, resources and people to collaborate with.
PHYSICAL AND MENTAL HEALTH: Looking after yourself is one of the key things we’re trying to improve through our journaling, so use it to log your thoughts and feelings, track progress, create plans, or simply explore and log personal experiences. Include things such as trackers (Water, Mood, Habits, Sleep, Exercise, Health, Weight loss), a Fitness Diary or log of workout routines, self-care ideas, or gratitude logging. Take the chance to dig into your thoughts and feelings in a safe space, and think about the things that have happened to you and how you are going to maximise the good and avoid or minimise the bad, or what you could have done differently/would change if you had the chance.
PERSONAL GROWTH: The Chinese proverb says “Be not afraid of growing slowly; be afraid only of standing still” and as human beings, we naturally want to learn and evolve. Think about the things you want to learn, your personal goals and your wish list. What could, or would you like to do to change yourself, or change the lives of those around you? Make goals and bucket lists, and think about what you value and the skills you have or would like to learn. Note quotes and affirmations that speak to and motivate you.
HOUSEHOLD JOURNAL: Meal planning, shopping lists and recipes. Chores, DIY and home improvement plans. Planning of events, birthdays, holidays etc. Household information (bills, insurance etc)
FAMILY LIFE: Places to go with the family and kids, or for date night. Planning of social ideas, clubs, hobbies etc.
INTERESTS: Things you like to do, a bucket list of new things to try. Films, TV, Songs and artists, books – log your favourites and note those you must try. Activities and hobbies (logging achievements, medals, training plans etc) or those you would like to have a go at and what you need to achieve them.
FINANCIAL: Personal or business planning. Savings, budgeting, planning for retirement. Household finance and bills. Big expenditures and wish list items.
TRAVEL: Bucket list of places to visit, and plans for holidays. List of places visited and a log or diary of the visit.
So we hope that the above will give you a good range of ideas to help you decide on what to journal about or to inspire you in those times when you are unsure of where to start. Bookmark this page if you think it will be useful to refer back to in the future when you open your journal and the blank page is staring back at you as you struggle to get started. Pick something and start writing, once you get going, the ink will flow and you’ll soon find yourself happily scribbling away.
At Journalise we know that getting started with journaling can be scary, especially when faced with a blank piece of paper. This is why we created our Journal 101 which will help you begin your journaling habit and to build a practice that works for you, and that will remain with you forever. It will provide you with ideas, exercises and prompts that will guide you in understanding your needs, goals and emotions. These will help you understand what you like to write about, and how you like to record this information. When you’ve completed this journal, you’ll have a better understanding of your Self, and the confidence to face a blank page in your next journal.
If you’re a more experienced journaler, then you will probably prefer our Journal 121. The same quality product as the 101, but with less guidance and more freestyle space for you to express yourself as you want.
Finally, if you’re just wanting a quick check-in and daily planner, then check out our Go journal and get your day off to the perfect start.
Of course, keep in mind that journaling is just one aspect of a healthy lifestyle for better mental health self-care in managing stress, anxiety, and mental health conditions. To get the most benefits you need a generally balanced and healthy lifestyle, so be sure you also:
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet.
- Exercise regularly—ideally getting some form of activity every day.
- Relax and meditate every day.
- Get plenty of quality sleep each night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs and limit things like caffeine.
And finally – remember if journaling or any other self-care techniques are not working for you, never be afraid to seek professional help from your doctor, therapist or other mental health practitioners.