7 Questions to Help You Start a Journaling Practice – or Deepen the One You Already Have

7 Questions to Help You Start a Journaling Practice – or Deepen the One You Already Have

Journaling can be a powerful tool in supporting your overall well-being. The act of keeping a journal or taking time to free-write can help you build a deeper relationship with yourself as well as create stronger, healthier connections with others.

In this post, we’re diving into all the benefits of journaling and sharing seven prompts and questions that will help you start a journaling practice or deepen the one you already have. Your emotional wellbeing is an important part of your overall well being, and at its core, that’s what working out is all about.

Why is Journaling So Beneficial?

Journaling can be a meditative, self care-focused practice that encourages self-reflection, introspection, and self-awareness. By putting words on paper, phone, computer, or whatever works best for you, your feelings are given a place to release, allowing you to process or uncover what else there might be to explore.  Sure at first you might feel a little silly writing to yourself (or addressing an inanimate object if you choose to begin with the phrase “Dear Diary”), but once you get into the flow of moving your pen across the page, your conscious mind will turn off, allowing you to drop into your subconscious to discover what thoughts, ideas, beliefs, and feelings lie underneath.

In addition to helping you build a deeper relationship with yourself, journaling has also been found to help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression while aiding individuals working through trauma. It can  assist in helping you work through fears or identifying areas of negative self talk as well.

Journaling can also help individuals work toward and accomplish goals. That’s because the self-awareness gained by journaling can help you understand what you really want out of life and get clear about the steps you need to take to accomplish those goals. One study even found that just the act of writing goals down improves the chance of achieving them by 42%.

7 Prompts to Expand Your Journaling Practice

While there is no right or wrong way to journal, if the idea of a blank page feels intimidating, a journal with built-in prompts can help you get started and help guide your reflection. There are also so many helpful online prompts you can turn to when you feel stuck. 

Here are seven more questions and prompts to support your journaling, whether you’re just getting started or looking to deepen the practice you already have. 

1. The Gratitude List: There is likely one thing every day that you can be grateful for, even if you’ve had a less than stellar day. Start your journal entry with one sentence of gratitude. You might even find that more flows from that simple thought exercise.

2. The Letter to the Past: It’s easy to get wrapped up in the everyday, so much so that you forget how far you’ve come. Think about where you were one year ago today (use your iPhone camera roll memories to help trigger your recall). Now write a letter to that person. What has changed? What have you learned? What can you thank your past self for? What can you be proud of?

3. The Challenge Accepted: Everyone will find themselves challenged on a daily, if not weekly basis. No matter how big or small that challenge is — maybe it was ending a relationship or simply sending an email to a new team at work — it’s worth reflecting on how you dealt with it, what you’re proud of, and what you’ve learned. What challenge have you accepted recently? Take a few minutes to journal about it.

4. The To-Do List: Bullet journals are all about to do lists, but you can also leverage these in other types of journaling. Even if you prefer free writing, working through your to-do list on paper can help process any blocks or feelings about your day that you might not realize you have.

5. The Alternative Path: Whenever you’re feeling stuck, it can be helpful to journal about the alternative routes you could have taken or could take in the future. Imagine your life if you were to make two different decisions, if you’d moved to a different country, or taken a different job. This can help you get clarity around what’s missing or what you want to change, as well as about what you love and feel proud about in your life right now.

6. The Dream Big Wish List: Get clarity around your biggest dreams by writing out your biggest pie-in-the-sky dreams. Write down what you’d wish for if time, money, and energy were no limitations. What do you want this month? This year? Ten years from now? 

7. The Mundane Joys and Routines Roll Call: There is so much to appreciate in the everyday and, looking back, it’s those moments that will mean the most. Write down a few mundane, everyday notes from your day or how your daily routine worked for you that day. Don’t be afraid to be boring because it’s the little moments that matter the most.

Tips to Start or Maintain a Journaling Practice

If you have a bookshelf full of start and stop journal entries and notebooks where you kept up the practice for just a few days — perhaps immediately following January 1 — then this section is for you. Keeping consistent habits can be hard, particularly when they’re something, like journaling, that feels like it’s just for you. 

It’s an entirely private practice, which is why it’s both so incredible and so hard to stay consistent. Journaling is something you do for you — and you’re the one who has to hold yourself accountable. 

Here are 5 ways to make journaling work for you.

Use a Notebook and Pens That Get You Excited to Write

Maybe it’s the first-day-of-school feeling, but there’s something about a brand new notebook and a fresh pen that makes writing exciting. Use that same mental trick to motivate you to start journaling. Buy a journal that represents you, how you want to feel, or the goals you have in mind. Let that guide you to your practice.

Make Journaling Part of an Existing Routine

Finding time to get started can be the most difficult part of implementing a new habit. But, if you combine that habit, like journaling, with something that is already a part of your autopilot daily routine, then it’ll be both easier to remember and maintain. For example, if you take 10 minutes to drink your coffee in the mornings or 5 minutes to make hot tea before bed, work your journal practice into one of those existing habits. 

Find the Right Type of Journaling For You

Some people find that free writing their emotions and feelings across a page is critical in helping them process their days. Others like the practicality of bullet journaling, adding notes sporadically when they want to recall memories or events. And others prefer the assistance of a journal with daily prompts to help kick start their writing. 

Finding the right type of journaling will help you get what you need out of and stick to a consistent rhythm.

Remember It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect

It’s easy to think you must journal every day, and, if you miss a day, it’s over. But it doesn’t need to be perfect. You can take a day — even weeks off — and the page will still be there. This is for you. When it works for you, you do it. When it doesn’t, you return to it later.

Just Get Started

Whether it’s five words or 500, the most important step in journaling is just getting started. Don’t overthink it. Write and see where your pen takes you. No matter what ends up on the page, you won’t regret it. This is only for you, and you’re the only one waiting on you. 

Do you have a journaling practice? Do you write daily? Weekly? What types of prompts have worked best for you? Have you found hacks to help you stick to a routine? Let us know in the comments!

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