Self-development, Wellbeing

How to start journaling

Journaling is a powerful tool in any personal development journey. It allows you to become aware of thoughts and feelings that you may not realise you have until you put pen to paper.

I initially had absolutely no idea what I was supposed to write and saw it as a bit of a homework type task, but it’s now evolved into one of my favourite rituals; a way get back to feeling more ‘me’. I’ve gained so much insight into myself and it’s an incredible connection to your past self, which photos and memories aren’t always reflective of. I love looking back and seeing what I was thinking at a certain point in time. Writing freely allows you to get honest with yourself and by asking yourself difficult questions you can uncover blind spots.

Benefits of journaling

If there is something specific creating strong emotions, transferring the problem from mind to paper is cathartic. Writing things down makes them seem more controllable and more manageable. More generally, by releasing your thoughts onto paper and bringing them to the surface, you begin to understand yourself better. It also gives you control of your self-talk, so it’s an opportunity to set the tone and speak to yourself with kindness.

How to start journaling

There are lots of different ways to use your journal and there is no right or wrong way. You could use it for: a daily gratitude list, writing how you feel every day, releasing strong emotions or just whenever you feel like it. Writing a letter to your past or future self is also a nice way to change it up. I use mine to jot down a few things I’m grateful for in the morning or evening, then I write in it properly when I come to a realisation, feel strongly about something, want to get to the bottom of why I’m resisting something or for specific journaling exercises.

Here are a few suggestions on ways to journal:


At the start or end of each day, write a list of everything you are grateful for in your life. This could be the small moments from the day, such as a hug, good weather, cooking something that turned out well, or the bigger things: what are you grateful for right now in your life? Who are you grateful to have in your life?

Ideal when: you need to boost your mood; feeling like you’re not where you wanted to be; something hasn’t panned out as expected; you’ve received bad news

Current feelings

Simply write down everything that comes to mind, don’t try to filter your thoughts or what you write. Don’t judge yourself. This can be difficult to begin with as it’s a very different writing style to anything we write in our day-to-day lives. It can be especially hard to write something imperfectly and to address feeling or thoughts that you don’t think are ‘good’.

Ideal when: you feel stressed, anxious, overwhelmed, down or the need to release any strong emotion.


A quick and powerful exercise to remotivate you or to get clear about what you really want. Think about a time in the future, which could be in one year’s time, five years’ time or any point you’d like to focus on. Spend time really imagining how your perfect day would unfold. Go through it in detail and write down what you’re doing and how you’re feeling.

Ideal when: feeling demotivated; feeling negative about the future; feeling unsure about what you truly want; in the process of making a big decision.


At the end of the day, write about every good thing that happened to you that day. This could be the sun shining, a really good cup of coffee, a compliment, a good hair day, getting something done. Making this a consistent practice rewires the brain to focus on the good and look for positives in different situations.

Ideal when: you need to boost your mood.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s