When it comes to journaling, one of the challenges that many people have is knowing what to write about and how to get started. As someone who loves journaling, I’ve been journaling for as long as I can remember, and it’s a great help when it comes to so many things. From dealing with stress to organizing your thoughts to being more productive. Whatever your needs are, there’s a journaling method out there for you.
I’ve used lots of these journaling methods, and I can honestly say that they’re life-changing. You don’t have to use them all; just pick one or two journaling methods that feel comfortable and go from there. You’ll soon find a journaling technique that you like best.
So whether you want to journal for spirituality, self-care, mental health, and wellbeing purposes or to get more organized and productive, there’s a journaling method out there for you.
1. Write a letter from your future self
Writing a letter to you from your future self is great for getting clear on what you want to achieve in life. This journaling method is particularly valuable if you’re feeling stuck and don’t know what direction to take.
Thinking from the perspective of yourself in 5 years, 10 years, or even more will help you get clear on who you want to become and will guide you towards the actions you need to take in order to get there.
2. Write about things you don’t like
Whether it’s the big world issues on your mind or something about yourself that you dislike, getting the things you don’t like out on paper is a great release. Keeping things bottled up is never helpful.
You might be able to change some things, but there will always be things that are outside of your circle of influence. Holding onto frustrations about things you can’t do anything about isn’t healthy. By writing about it, hopefully, you’ll start to feel a sense of release.
3. Write about regrets
One thing that you can’t change in life is the past. We all have some regrets. However big or small, there’s no going back. All you can do is focus on the future, try to move forward, and learn from the past.
But if your past regrets are becoming a source of too much pain, it might be an idea to face them head-on. This means acknowledging exactly what it is that you regret, why you regret it, and what you would change if you could. Although you can’t change the past, you can do things differently in the future.
You also need to draw a line under things and forgive yourself. Writing about past regrets in this way may give you the closure you need to move on. Another thing about writing about regrets is that you can confine the time given to thinking about these regrets to your writing time. Commit to leaving these thoughts on paper so you don’t carry them around with you 24/7.
4. A word a day / A sentence a day (focus for the day)
Are you strapped for time? Then the word-a-day or sentence-a-day journaling technique is perfect for you. This journaling technique is all about having one daily focus.
Writing one word might not sound that powerful, but once you write the word, you then need to focus on living according to this word throughout the day and focusing on this word or sentence. Imagine a day when you focus on the word kindness or patience; everything you do throughout the day, all your thoughts, conversations, and actions would need to align with these words. And that’s a powerful intention.
5. Embrace quotes as a journaling method
Quotes are powerful. They have a way of cutting through the noise and hitting home. They inspire us, motivate us, and make us think.
You don’t have to come up with your own words when journaling. There are lots of fantastic, motivational, and inspiring quotes out there. Why not start the day by reading and then writing one of these quotes.
6. Write daily affirmations
Affirmations are an incredible tool when it comes to shifting your mindset. You might be used to saying your affirmations, but why not take it a step further and write them down. This is another simple yet highly life-changing journaling method.
Not sure how to get started with affirmations? Check out these 50 Powerful Daily Affirmations For Confidence And Self-Esteem or these 37 Affirmations For Career Growth
7. Doodling/ Art journaling method
Growing up, I loved to draw. I could sit for hours drawing and doodling. It was truly relaxing. In fact, the benefits of art are so well known that Art Therapy is a whole therapy specialty of its own.
It doesn’t matter what you draw or doodle. Just the simple process will help you to relax and unwind and can free up mental space for more creativity to flow through you. So, if writing’s not your thing- try the art journaling method.
8. Write a detailed account of a day in your dream life
Do you get lost in your thoughts, dreaming about some other life you could be living? Well, why not commit this to paper? Writing a detailed entry about a day in your dream life is a great way to connect with what you truly desire.
It helps with visualization, and the more you do it, the clearer your visualizations will become. The magic of this journaling method lies in the detail.
Include every detail. Colors, feelings, anything you can think of. Write about what you do from the moment you wake up in your dream day to the moment you go to sleep.
9. Hopes and dreams/vision board
If writing about a full day from start to finish, in detail, feels a bit daunting, try writing about your hopes and dreams in any way that feels comfortable. This could be a collection of words, including things you want to be, do, and have. You can even include pictures. This journaling methood is like creating a vision board.
10. Things that you’re stressed about
Feeling stressed, then start writing. The dangers of stress are well known, and we all know that it’s good to talk things out. After all, a problem shared is a problem halved. But it’s not always easy. And when you’re stressed, it can even be even harder to communicate about what’s stressing you out in a way that others will understand.
That’s when writing about your stressors comes in. Because this is about you and you alone- it’s about getting it all out. You can write about it in any way that works. It doesn’t have to make sense, be in complete sentences, or be reasonable. If it stresses you out, write about it.
What’s more, sometimes, when we see our concerns written down on paper, they lose some of their power, and you might even start to formulate solutions to some of your problems.
11. Review your day
How do you spend your evenings? What’s your wind-down routine before bed?
Reviewing your day is a wonderful journaling method that you can implement, and it has lots of benefits. Spending time reviewing your day while things are still fresh will help you get clear on what’s working for you in your life and what’s not working and will also help you to stay on track with any goals you might have.
You can include anything you want. For example:
- Things that happened that day and how they made you feel
- What went well
- What didn’t go so well
- What you’re most thankful for that day
- What you’re most proud of
- What you achieved that day
- Conversations you had and how they made you feel
This list goes on. It’s your daily review, so include the things that will have the most meaning and impact for you.
12. Write about things you’re proud of
I mentioned things you’re proud of in the daily review journaling method. But what about making this the focus?
Writing about the things you’re proud of can be challenging for many people, especially if you’re not in the best headspace. This journaling technique is vital and extremely valuable if you’re struggling with your confidence and generally just feeling down on yourself.
But even if you feel great, writing about things you’re proud of on a regular basis will keep them top of mind so you can keep feeling great.
13. Tasks and to-do lists
When you think of journaling, many people think it has to involve writing about deep thoughts and feelings. But tasks and to-do lists also fit into journals, and truth be told, many of us aren’t even using task and to-do lists.
If your planning and organization could do with some improvement, or even if you’re just looking for a feel-good factor at the end of each day, using to-do lists will definitely help! They can be as complicated or as simple as you like.
This is a great journaling method to start with if you’re not in the habit of putting pen to paper on a daily basis.
14. Start a mood journal (Thoughts and feelings)
If there’s one theme that you’ve probably noticed so far, it’s that keeping things bottled up is a big no-no. It’s not good to keep things bottled up, yet so many of us still do.
If, like so many people, talking about your thoughts and feelings isn’t always easy, then you need to start journaling right away.
Writing about thoughts and feelings is a journaling method that can definitely support your mental health. It’s a way to organize your thoughts and also a way to work through difficult feelings and emotions.
Writing anything can be daunting. The blank page staring at you. Enter free writing.
The concept of freewriting was outlined by writing teachers such as Louise Dunlap, Peter Elbow, and Natalie Goldberg. Freewriting is similar to brainstorming but is written in sentence and paragraph form without stopping.
In this journaling technique, you write ANYTHING- you just give yourself a set amount of time and write for that period. If you can’t think of anything to write, then write that. “I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write. I can’t think of anything to write…” You get the point.
Although this journalling method has traditionally been seen as a prewriting technique in academic environments, there’s no reason not to use it in this way. If it can help writers overcome writer’s block, hopefully, it can unlock the secrets of your mind, however confused or stuck you might feel.
16. Food journal
We all know the concept of a food diary, where you track the food you eat. But did you ever consider this to be a journaling technique? Well, I’m here to tell you it is!
Keeping a food journal doesn’t have to be just about tracking calories, which is one of the most common uses. More examples of things you could include in a food journal are:
- Foods you ate in the day and how they made you feel
- Calories – of course
- Possible reactions, side effects
- Energy fluctuations after eating
- And if you love to cook- new recipes you’ve cooked!
17. Write about your travels
As well as taking photos, writing about your travels is a great way to document and remember your experiences. So why not start a travel journal and combine the two! Not to mention, a travel journal can help you stay organized while traveling, with where you need to be and when. Documents required, etc. Places you loved and more.
18. Prayer Journaling method
Writing a prayer or a bible journal is another potential journaling technique. You can use the journal as a way to write about what you learn through Bible study or write down your own prayers and things that you’re thankful for.
19. Morning pages
Morning Pages is a writing technique that was also used as a tool to help writers overcome writing blocks. This practice involves writing 3 full pages every morning.
It’s described by Julia Cameron as follows: ‘Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream-of-consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning.”
You can write anything at all; there’s no right or wrong way to do it since no one else will read what you’ve written. This journaling method can definitely help to clear any blocks and pave the way for creativity. It’s also a great challenge!
20. Write about your dreams
I’ve always found dreams interesting, and I’m definitely the person who gets on Google to find out the possible meaning of my dream the minute I wake up. So why not write about your dreams. From being chased, to flying to lucid dreaming. Whether or not you believe that dreams have meaning, writing about your dreams could be the journaling method for you. And who knows, you could end up with a series of interesting short stories from it!
21. Record daily life lessons
From every experience, good or bad, you can learn something. But we don’t always remember this. Especially where difficult, frustrating, or bad situations are concerned.
By taking time to reflect on the events of each day and making a point of writing down any lessons that you’ve learned, you’ll find that you’ll become much more self-aware, and over time, you’ll be more aware and intentional with your actions.
22. Lessons learned from books
There’s nothing like a good book. Reading can expand your mind, increase your vocabulary, entertain you, and much more.
Rather than keeping the lessons in your head, commit them to paper with this journaling method so you can easily refer to them later. With lessons from numerous books all accessible in one place.
23. Journal about new ideas you have
How many ideas have you had that you didn’t take action on? Maybe you talked yourself out of it, or perhaps it was a fleeting idea that passed. But can you remember all the ideas you’ve ever had? You might be wondering why you’d want to?
Just because an idea isn’t the right idea now doesn’t mean it won’t be the right one later. What’s more, looking back at things, we can sometimes spot patterns that mean something, which can lead us to unexpected places we would never have imagined.
For example, if you keep coming up with ideas around a certain theme or topic – this might be the universe trying to tell you something, and you might want to consider this area more seriously. Also, looking back through past ideas could just be the spark of inspiration you need to come up with a big life-changing idea!
So don’t let those ideas disappear into the ether. Use this journaling method to catch them and keep them for later!
24. Track your progress
Whatever you’re trying to achieve, it’s important to track your progress. More than just ticking a list of tasks, tracking progress involves checking in to see HOW things are going. You can review the following areas when using this journaling method:
- Have things been easier, more difficult, or just as expected?
- What lessons have you learned so far that will help you move forward?
- What changes do you need to make?
- What should you do more or less of in order to succeed?
- Are you on track to achieve your goal ( ideal weight, business income goal, mileage clocked)?
- What have the biggest challenges been so far in working towards your goal, and what have you done to overcome them?
- What possible obstacles are coming up?
Reviewing your progress in this way will help you stay on track and will ensure you avoid any potential setbacks and pitfalls. This journaling method will work wonders, regardless of what project you’re working on or what goal you’re trying to achieve.
25. Wish lists and bucket lists
Life is short, and we can easily get swept up in day-to-day pressures and lose sight of what we want.
A journal of wish lists will help you ensure that you’re actually living life as fully as possible and doing things that you really want to do. It can give you something to look forward to and to look happily back on as you tick things off the lists.
And what about the ultimate list? Have you written a bucket list? A list of things you want to do before you … can’t anymore? If not, then now is the time!
When you think about things you want to accomplish in a lifetime, you might just be shocked at how little time you have because most life goals take time and long-term dedication to complete.
26. Write out your goals
Many of us have goals, but not everyone writes them down. Those who write down their goals are much more likely to achieve them. And writing down your goals shouldn’t be a one-time thing. In fact, the more you write them down and review them, the more you commit them to memory and stay close to them. And keeping your goals top of mind will make it far less likely to go off course in the long run.
So it’s well worth spending some time each day writing down and reviewing your goals.
27. Write letters you’ll never send
The idea of writing letters you’ll never send might sound a little crazy, but good things can come from it. Think “To All The Boys”
But even if your letters don’t get mischievously sent by someone close to you, writing them can change your life.
This journaling method is a great way to work through your emotions. Let’s face it, some things are just hard to say. And while it might seem like the easy way out, if you’re able to work through difficult or painful emotions and maybe even heal and move forward, then it’s worth trying. Let’s face it, some feelings are complicated, so before you can think about talking to anyone about it, you first need to come to terms with and understand what you feel yourself.
28. Write about your fears and how to overcome them
Fear is one of the biggest things that holds many of us back from achieving our dreams.
Many of these fears are unfounded. If only we’d analyze them more closely and question them.
Sometimes, we even have fears that we’re not aware of holding us back. They masquerade as other things, and we can never quite figure out why we can’t make progress – these fears are your subconscious limiting beliefs.
Given how much impact your fears can have over you, spending time writing about them is a wise move that will pay off big time.
Getting crystal clear on what it is you’re actually afraid of, why you’re afraid of it, and then figuring out and writing about, what you could do to overcome it – you’ll be taking a first step towards taking back control.
No matter what your fears are ask yourself how likely it is to happen and write about the worst-case scenario. Include what you would do to recover or come back from it. This journaling technique is one I highly recommend starting – even if it’s just every now and then.
29. Gratitude journal – Write about things you’re thankful for
There are many benefits of gratitude. It improves your relationships, improves mental health, and can even increase self-esteem. With all these benefits and more, starting a daily practice of gratitude journaling can only be a good thing.
And if you’re not sure how to get started with gratitude journaling, check out the Good Days Start With Gratitude journal as a first step! From my experience, they really do.
There you have it. 29 Journaling methods that will change your life. Now, you just need to get started!