how to start journaling (+ 10 journal ideas)

Journaling is a big part of my mental and emotional wellness. I started journaling well over 5 months ago by simply recalling my day and writing out my emotions. It was a simple act that I fell in love with. I write when I feel like it. I write what I feel like. There’s no more pressure that I force upon myself. Sometimes I’ll recall my day. Sometimes I’ll cry my heart out. Sometimes I’ll put down my to-do list. My journal is a safe extension of myself in all forms.

There’s no right way to journal. You could go with a Dear Diary format, a bullet journal format, or simply however you feel like in your heart. You make it physical or do the digital route. Again, there’s no right way.

A journal is a safe place. It’s an extension of oneself. Remember that.

Psst! I created a Pinterest board full of journaling inspo!


Affiliate Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. If you make a purchase through the link, I may earn a small commission, at no extra cost to you. (This commission helps me run the blog and continue to bring you quality content and free downloadables!)

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what you need (+ journal recs)

To start a journal, you need 1 – 2 things: a place where you can write out what’s in your heart and, if it’s physical, a writing instrument.

Spiral notebooks, composition books, loose leaf paper, a fancy journal, the back of that reciept – grab it. Your phone/laptop/electronic device pair great with the Notes app or a Word/Google document. Any pen, pencil, marker, heck, even a crayon can do. 

We’re just getting started. No need to go all out until you’re sure journaling is right for you or a habit is maintained.

For physical journals, I use this dotted journal made from recycled materials and use these gel pens of which I swear by. I love that the journal has a bookmark, back pocket, and a strap to keep it closed. (And then pens come in so many vibrant colors!)

For digital journals, I recommend GoodNotes (iOS only; for purchase) if you’d like to handwrite them, or OneNote/the Notes app if you’re typing them.

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how to start your journal

The first thing you should do is date it if you want to look back and see a particular day. Then, to get started, write! Write whatever you want! Perhaps write about what you did during the day or plan out a to-do list for tomorrow.

Practice gratitude and mindfulness, writing out 3-5 things that you loved about the day, not matter how small they may seem. Your coffee tasted great, your shower was relaxing, you had a nice dream, you’re wearing your favorite socks…the grocery store had your fave item in stock – nothing’s too small!

Here’s an example:

Saturday, February 5th, 2022; 17:19 – Today I really enjoyed some alone and quiet time. I’ve been a bit overstimulated the past few days here in Colorado. No matter how nice of a time I have, there’s always a point of too much, and I have to step back. That’s okay. I’m just glad to have and to be taking care of myself. Too much stimulation makes me anxious and weary. Now that I’ve taken time to refresh, I can get right back in the game of having fun. After all, tomorrow’s my last day here!

Tomorrow I will need to…

  • pack!
  • find a souvenior.
  • recharge all electronics.
  • finish what’s left in the fridge.
  • color condition hair.
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10 journaling ideas

  1. Recall your day.
  2. Make a to-do list (or a not to-do list).
  3. List 3-5 things that made your day/that you are thankful for.
  4. Plan for tomorrow.
  5. Write about whatever emotion you’re feeling.
  6. Talk about any goals you may have.
  7. Say goodbye to a bad habit.
  8. Release any stress from the work day.
  9. Pen a love letter to yourself.
  10. Pose a question and answer it.
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There you have it! It’s everything you need to start journaling. You can make it a daily thing, a weekly thing, or just whenever you feel like it.

Psst! You might also like: how to pratice mindfulness: meditating, journaling, + yoga.

Again, there’s no right way to journal. Do what you feel in your heart.

Happy writing!

Hi, I’m Jade Madison!

When I am blogging, I work to bring you quality lifestyle and personal content, as well as printables to make your life easier.

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