Self-care is an extremely important practice for your physical and mental well-being.
It doesn’t need to be something lavish or expensive. Rather, small, simple habits you can include in your daily routine often make the biggest difference. Things like exercising, eating healthy meals, and prioritizing sleep are all excellent forms of self-care.
Journaling is another great way to take care of yourself, and you don’t have to be a seasoned writer to reap the benefits.
Whether you’ve ever kept a journal before or not, there’s never a bad time to start. If you’re not sure what to write or how to incorporate it into your routine, we’ve got a few tips that can make it easier.
First, let’s dive a little deeper into why writing should be part of your wellness routine, and how it can benefit your health in more ways than one. Whether you’re struggling with anxious thoughts or simply looking for a way to express your feelings, journaling is a great place to start.
What are the benefits of journaling?
If you don’t consider yourself to be a writer, don’t let that stop you from picking up a journal and getting started. Journaling is an accessible and inexpensive hobby for almost everyone. It can improve mindfulness by keeping you in the present moment as you write, thus reducing anxiety and fear.
While journaling here and there isn’t a bad thing, you’ll gain more from the practice if you make it a healthy habit. To do that, you need to define why you want to start journaling in the first place. Some of the common reasons people start journaling include:
- Keeping track of goals
- Tracking progress
- Strengthening memory
- Reducing stress
- Improving communication skills
Even if you want to journal as a way to express your inner thoughts, determining your reason is a good place to start. Once you have that reason in place, you can set aside time each day to journal, and reward yourself for your efforts so you keep going.
All of the reasons people journal are also potential benefits. Whether you want to reach a certain goal, track your growth, or just reduce stress and anxiety, writing things down with intention can be a big help.
The best part? A journal can come with you almost anywhere. While making it a part of your daily routine is great (and we’ll talk more about that later), the beauty of a notebook and a pen is that they can travel with you wherever you go, so you can pull out your journal to write at a moment’s notice, bringing you back to the present and helping you stay focused.
How to get started
If you’ve decided to give journaling a try, but don’t consider yourself a writer, try using different prompts to get started. When you’re using journaling as an act of self-care, you should choose prompts that inspire you or ones that really cause you to think and focus so you can give your attention to your words, rather than what’s going on around you that could be causing stress or anxiety.
Even if you love writing, prompts can be a good way to help you get “out of your head” and focus on something bigger. They can add a fresh perspective to your writing and even end up changing the way you think about certain things.
There are plenty of journaling prompts you can find online with a quick search. You can even search for specific prompts based on how you’re feeling or what you’re going through. Use some of these to get you started if you’re feeling stuck or uninspired:
- Who are three people you admire, and why?
- What went well today?
- What didn’t go well today?
- What are three things you did this week that you’re proud of?
You can even search for journals specifically designed to help you reflect on certain things. There are journals that focus on gratitude, inspiration, self-discovery, and even professional development. Many of them have built-in prompts you can respond to each day, as well as other features like inspirational quotes that might also help to shift your perspective.
How to incorporate journaling into your routine
If you’re journaling for self-care, the best way to get the most out of it is to incorporate it into your daily routine. Consider what works best for you. Some people get the most benefit from journaling first thing in the morning. Make yourself a cup of coffee or tea, embrace the quiet early hours, and write down your reflections as you get ready for the day.
Others find it more therapeutic to journal before bed as a way of unwinding and unloading everything that happened throughout the day. It’s a great option for kids and teens, too, especially if they’re used to spending time on their phones or other electronic devices before bed.
Those digital devices emit a blue light that can make it difficult for them to get to sleep. Journaling can help everyone in your family avoid too much screen time before bed, and get you all in a relaxed state for a restful night as part of a routine. Encouraging your children to adopt healthy nighttime routines now will make it easier for them to practice self-care as they get older.
If you’re struggling with stress, anxiety, or depression, or you just feel like you have a lot to say but no creative outlet, journaling is a wonderful solution. Even if you feel OK now, journaling is a healthy habit to get into that can help you reach your goals and keep track of how far you’ve come in a few weeks, months, or even several years. It’s always fun to look back on entries to see what was happening in your life, and how much things have changed.
You don’t need much to get started. Find a journal that works for you, or simply pick up a notebook with a few blank pages. Whether you do a daily “brain dump” or work with prompts, journaling can end up being just as important and impactful as any other self-care practice.
Today's post is a guest post from Amanda Winstead.
Amanda Winstead is a writer from the Portland area with a background in communications and a passion for telling stories. Along with writing she enjoys traveling, reading, working out, and going to concerts. If you want to follow her writing journey, or even just say hi you can find her on Twitter.