Be Present: How to Start a Mindfulness Journal

A blue notebook opened to a blank page

Life can often feel like a blur of meetings, emails, and errands.

A simple way to slow down and savor the present is to maintain a mindfulness journal.

What is mindfulness?

Mindfulness is the state of being in the present. When we’re being mindful, we’re not getting hung up on the past, or worrying about the future. We’re choosing to focus on the here and now. 

Luckily, you don’t have to book a weeklong meditation retreat to achieve mindfulness. In fact, mindfulness can be explored through a variety of everyday activities. Meditation, knitting, or even doing the dishes help calm down a busy mind. 

And one of the most popular ways to practice mindfulness is through journal writing. 

If you ever kept a diary growing up, then you know just how satisfying a journal can be. A journal is a space where you can express your feelings and be yourself. It helps us get our messy thoughts out of our head and onto paper. And we always end up feeling *so* much better afterwards. 

How does journal writing help us become more mindful? 

When we’re stuck in our head, our thoughts are scattered all over the place, which can provoke stress and anxiety. But through journal writing, we’re able to identify our emotions, ground our thoughts, and gain greater clarity. 

The act of writing makes it easier to then gradually release those big, intense feelings. Instead of holding onto them, and increasingly becoming more resentful or angry or overwhelmed, you have a mechanism for letting them go. 

This isn’t to say that journal writing alone will help us solve all our problems. But it’s an important tool to help us cope and relax. 

Journal writing has also been shown to help you…

  • Cultivate an attitude for gratitude
  • Develop compassion for yourself and others 
  • Grow self–awareness
  • Relieve tension and stress in your body
  • Appreciate the present moment
  • Tame negative thoughts 

Regardless if you’re an avid journaler or new to the practice, you’ll certainly find that mindfulness journaling is a wonderful outlet for your thoughts and a soothing antidote to today’s busy world. 

Here are the best mindfulness journals to help you focus on the present along with some ideas to help you practice mindfulness in your daily life. 

A mindfulness journal to cultivate an attitude for gratitude 

A gratitude practice helps us appreciate the present moment. It’s a simple but effective way to keep our mind from dwelling on the past or future. When we practice gratitude, we seem to feel lighter, happier, and more mindful. 

While gratitude is a relatively simple practice, it’s one of those things that we know we should do, but never get around to doing. You can be more purposeful about your gratitude practice with a dedicated journal. 

A gratitude journal offers structure and guidance. This takes the guesswork out of what to reflect on and write about. With a gratitude journal, you can start making it a habit to practice gratitude and record all the wonderful things going on in your life. And thanks to the daily entries and prompts, you can deepen your practice and really strengthen those gratitude muscles.

A mindfulness journal to empower your thoughts 

Our thoughts have power. When we say things like “I’m not good at anything” or “I’m a failure” we start to truly believe in those words. But you can combat those negative thoughts with mindful journaling and mantras

A mantra is a word or phrase that you repeat internally or recite out loud. You can also write down mantras on paper. Studies have shown that handwriting helps us encode information. So by writing down a mantra, you are essentially changing the way you talk to yourself. And you start to feel the empowering effect of these positive words.

Examples of mantras include: 

  • I can do this.
  • I am allowed to grow and learn.
  • I am worthy.
  • I am stronger than I think I am.

Maintain a mantra journal to press pause on negative thoughts and build your confidence. 

A mindfulness journal to overcome inertia 

If you feel like you’ve been running on autopilot, try keeping a prompt journal to help you get unstuck and become more mindful. 

It’s so easy to get mired in the daily drudgery of our lives. We wake up, go to work, come home, and repeat the cycle all over again. If you’re trying to overcome a sense of inertia, take action with a daily prompt journal.

A prompt journal gives us an opportunity to examine ourselves and our lives–from a different perspective. Instead of passively going about your day, a mindfulness journal can help you stay engaged with what’s going on. 

And for writers struggling with writer’s block, a prompt journal gives your inspiration a big boost. By reflecting on these thoughtful questions, you’ll find yourself opening up in new ways and developing fresh insights into your life. 

Other ways to practice mindfulness 

In addition to writing in a mindfulness journal, there are lots of simple but impactful activities that can help you relieve stress, become more aware, and stay calm. 

Examples of mindful activities include:

Using a coloring book. Coloring isn’t just for kids. Coloring can help you focus on the present, reduce stress, and have lots of fun while you’re at it.

Practicing self-care. Taking care of yourself is good for you emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Whether it’s a leisurely walk in the park or doing light stretches before bed, these self-care activities will soothe your soul and keep your mind in the present. 

A weekly reflection practice. A weekly reflection practice can help you stay engaged in your personal and professional life. Instead of feeling like you’re on a hamster wheel, you can re-energize your life with a sense of purpose and direction. A reflection practice helps you gain new insights, learn important lessons, and empower you for the week ahead. 

If you’re looking for more ideas on how to practice mindfulness or keep a mindfulness journal, read our guide here.
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