How to journal for beginners
Updated: Dec 8, 2022
Journaling is a simple yet impactful habit for mental and physical health.
In fact, a randomized trial, published in 2021, following patients undergoing treatment for sarcoma reported patients who journaled routinely noted improved communication, symptom management, and quality of life (PMID: 34559571).
When I was a kid, I remember having a notebook with a flimsy lock and key where I would draw and write my most personal secrets that consisted of which boy I liked in class and how upset I was that a classmate used up all the ink in my favorite pink fruit-scented marker.
What my 8 year-old self did not know and what I know now is that routinely writing down how what could be our most simple and mundane thoughts and feelings is an effective way to process and gain control of emotions.
Scientific and health benefits to journaling:
Helpful in mitigating mental distress and increases well-being (PMID: 30530460)
Can help with coping with stressful events and recovering from emotional trauma and PTSD (PMID: 35304431)
Can improve overall immune and physical health. In this study, researchers found that those who journaled for 20 minutes per day saw improved immune system function, reduced blood pressure, improved lung function, and more!
Can cultivate more feelings of gratitude
Can improve memory
How to start journaling for beginners:
If you're anything like me, you may need the perfect pen and notebook for such an endeavor; or maybe typing is more your style and you need the best clickity-clackity keyboard there is. Whatever you need to get into the writing mood, do it. This will help you get excited each day to get your innermost thoughts out on paper (or screen).
Set aside time for writing. Maybe writing each day is too much at first, that's totally fine! Just set a routine that works well for your schedule. For example, you can schedule time every week or every 2 weeks to write for 20 or more minutes, or you can schedule time every night to write a couple of sentences that sum up your feelings of that day.
Make your environment writing-friendly. Brew a cozy cup of tea, play relaxing music, and light the perfect candle. Approach journaling as a way for self-care and relaxation.
Keep journaling fun. If you don't feel like words will do your feelings justice and you want to draw, then so be it! There are no hard and fast rules to journaling. Journal as you see fit.
Don't stress about grammar, spelling, and punctuation. No one will grade or judge your journal entries.
Remember, your words and thoughts are your own and you can choose to share or keep private what you write. However, I invite you to seek guidance from a trained professional if what you are journaling becomes harmful or too overwhelming in anyway and know that seeking help to deal with your emotions is nothing to be ashamed of.
Journal prompts to help you start:
What are three good things that happened to me today?
What are the three things I am most grateful for?
What are my favorite memories from my childhood?
What makes me most anxious and how do I cope with it?
My most perfect day would look like...
I am fearful of... I cope with this fear by...
What do I know to be true that I did not know a year ago?
What distractions get in the way of productivity, and what can I do mitigate them?
When do I feel most like myself?
Who brings out the best in me? Who brings out the worst in me?
How can I keep the opinions of others about me separate from how I feel about myself?
Keeping a journal is a powerful tool for balancing metal health
In a world where fear and stress is prevalent, coping with our emotions can be difficult. Putting pen to paper and writing down what causes our fears and anxieties will help us cope with the day-to-day noise we are bombarded with. Journaling helps us realize possible insecurities and triggers, and how to control them. It provides positive self-talk against negative thoughts and behaviors. Sometimes all we need is quiet time for ourselves to know we are doing our best in a stressful world.
Let's work together!
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*Disclaimer: Although I am a doctor, I may not be your doctor. The information contained within the pages of this site are for educational purposes only and should not to be used to treat conditions. Please consult with your doctor before implementing any of the treatments, diets, supplements, etc. mentioned in this blog.*
*Dr. Francesca is an affiliate for Amazon and other companies. Some links contained within the blog posts may be affiliate links from which she receives a small commission at no extra cost to the customer.*