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Your Complete Guide to Journaling: Tips to Get Started

If you’ve looked into ways to improve mental health, then chances are you’ve stumbled across the prospect journaling. So, what’s all the buzz about? In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the health benefits behind expressive writing. Further, we’ll provide some helpful tips to get started. If you’re ready to create a positive new habit, journaling is a great place to start!


Why start journaling?

Journaling has numerous health benefits. Most prominently, it can reduce stress and help induce mental clarity. Self-reflection provides an opportunity to be vulnerable and express frustrations. As a result, we can improve our behavior patterns and focus on what provides us happiness. 


There are also physical health benefits of this habit. Journaling on a regular basis can provide cognitive development through articulation and emotional expression. Studies have even proven that or expressive writing is linked to boosted immunity and decreased risk of illness. 


Gather supplies, and personalize. 

The first–and perhaps the most exciting–step to creating this new habit is finding the perfect journal. The key to this step is making the process enjoyable; something to look forward to. Pick the perfect journal (it does not have to be expensive, just tailored to your taste), and make it yours. Another fun way to personalize your journal is by investing in special pens or writing utensils. However you chose to make the journal yours–be it stickers, fancy paper, or glitter pens–do what feels right. Personalizing your journal will make the habit easier to keep. 


Set a clear routine. 

When establishing a new habit, it is critical to maintain consistency. Small details can make keeping a journal a habit that sticks. For instance, keep your journal in the same place. Journal at the same time each day (perhaps before bed, or right upon waking up). Sit in the same place each time you journal. Though these details may seem trivial, they can make all the difference. 


Set some goals. 

A common misconception about keeping a journal is that entries are just summaries of the day, with no real profound value. “Dear diary, today I…” is often what comes to mind. While these types of entries are soothing to some people, they feel equally pointless to others. Before you begin, you should set clear goals as to what you aim to achieve. Journaling with no real goal or intention will feel like a waste of time. So, be clear upfront. For example, perhaps you want to practice more gratitude. Perhaps you write to relieve frustration from work. Perhaps you write to identify sources of stress in your life. Whatever your purpose may be, identify it up front. 


Find your inner peace, and unwind.  

Keeping a journral should be a therapeutic experience. Identify practices that make journaling a soothing activity for you. Ideally, entries should not feel like a chore: it should be a relief. Try playing some calming music in the background. If music is not for you, maybe drink some warm tea while you write. Whatever works for you, establish a mood that sets up the writing session for success.


Be kind to yourself, and know that “results” may not come immediately. It may take a few writing sessions to reach any major conclusions or astounding revelations. That’s because keeping a journal is a lifestyle change (that’s the good kind). Have patience!


By now, you have a few places to start your journaling habit. Remember: set clear intentions, take it slow, and figure out what works for you. By following these steps, you can reap the benefits of mental clarity and reduced stress. Good luck!