5 Ways to Use Your Journal For Self Care

A few years ago, I committed to journaling regularly—and since then, it’s become an essential part of my self-care routine. Without fail, journaling almost always improves my mood, leaving me feeling calm, centred and capable.

I know that a lot of people are going through a difficult time right now so I thought I’d share some self-care journal tips and ideas. If you’re new to journaling, I know that one of the biggest road-blocks is not knowing where to start—so hopefully, you’ll find a few of these ideas helpful in your own self-care practise.

Title in white box "5 ways to use your journal for self care" over background of white bedding with coffee and cake.

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Self-Care Journal Ideas + Tips

OBSERVE + EXPLORE YOUR FEELINGS

Do you ever catch yourself stuck in a funk, struggling with a bad mood that comes seemingly come out of nowhere—but you have no idea why?

If so, you’re not alone. I know this feeling all too well and when it happens, I also know how tempting it is to give in to the negativity. It’s easy to write the day off and if that’s what you really want, it’s absolutely OK ever once in a while. You don’t have to be positive or happy all the time.

Having said that, if you want to turn your day around, I’ve found that it’s SO helpful to set aside 5-10 minutes to examine my feelings. Often, with a bit of self-reflection, I can identify a specific worry or problem that needs to be addressed.

This information is empowering—once I know why I’m feeling down, I can do something about it. To be clear, this doesn’t always mean I can “fix” everything but at a minimum, defining my fears always makes them less scary.

If you’d like to give this a try, then start with this very simple writing prompt: How do I feel right now?

I know, it might sound silly at first, but just go with it. Pour your heart out— if you feel like hiding in bed and screaming into your pillow, write that down! Your journal is a safe space so give yourself permission to have a temper tantrum if you want.

Just keep writing and don’t censor yourself … and see what comes up.

I almost always find that when I let my feelings flow without filter or judgement, I discover something about myself. There is usually a specific cause of my unhappiness—resentment, self-doubt, or disappointment—and this awareness is important. It’s the first step to either improving the situation or accepting what I cannot change.

RELATED POSTS: 4 Ways to Stop Letting the Little Things Bother You

CLEAR YOUR MIND

I don’t know about you, but I think one of the greatest acts of self-care is enjoying a quiet mind!

It’s such a luxurious feeling to turn off the chatter— your to-do list, your emails and everything else you’ve been thinking about. Finding a few minutes to set it all down and enjoy the quiet is absolutely priceless.

There are many ways to do this (mindfulness meditation is a popular one) but another good option is to do a brain dump. Open your journal to a blank page and let loose … write down everything that’s on your mind until there is nothing left.

When I do this I usually feel tired afterwards—but in that good, post-workout sort of way! I know that my thoughts and worries are safely recorded so I can just relax, let go, and enjoy the moment.

WRITE A GRATITUDE LIST

Practising gratitude is an act of self-care because it shifts your mindset from one of scarcity to one of abundance. Instead of feeling stressed and worried about what you’re lacking (or what you perceive you’re lacking), you turn your attention to joy and appreciation for the things you already have.

If you want to give this a try, then a simple way to get started is with a good old fashioned gratitude list! Find ten minutes and get cosy—light a candle and pour a hot drink— and then start writing.

As always, don’t overthink things. Write down everything you feel thankful for, big or small, and just flow with the moment. Then when you’re done take a minute to reflect on what you wrote. It’s a simple yet powerful way to ease your mind and lift your spirits.

FORGIVE YOURSELF

It’s a little embarrassing to admit this but I have a rather unfortunate habit of beating myself up when I make mistakes.

When I get bad feedback about my work, say something awkward around new friends, or make a regrettable impulse purchase … my inner voice can be unkind.

Can you relate?

If so, then one thing that helps me a lot is journaling. Writing about the situation allows me to view it objectively; I can get out of my head and show myself the empathy I deserve.

If you struggle with this, it helps to think of yourself in the third person—because let’s face it, it’s often easier to show compassion to others than to ourselves!

Write about whatever happened and then imagine it was a friend or loved one telling you about the same situation. What would you say to them? Do you find it easier to be compassionate and forgiving about the situation?

INDULGE IN YOUR DREAMS

Do you have big, scary dreams? You know the ones—the kind you’re afraid to even say out loud because they seem so far fetched?

I do and I know what it’s like to hide these dreams. You keep them to yourself because of self-doubt and fear of looking silly … but do you know what happens if you do this for too long?

You lose a part of yourself.

It doesn’t happen overnight but slowly, something inside you changes and not in a good way. Your inner child starts to fade away and you stop feeling like yourself.

At least, this was my experience. The more I tried to hide my dreams, the worse I felt—which is why I think indulging in your dreams is a vital piece of self-care.

You don’t need to share them with others if you’re not comfortable doing so. Instead, write about them. Trying using this journaling prompt:What would I do if I wasn’t afraid …

I found it so therapeutic to explore my dreams and ideas in a safe place without fear of judgement—and as an added bonus, writing actually helped me manifest some of my dreams. Seeing them repeatedly written on paper helped me find the confidence I needed to get started.

More Self-Care Journaling Tips + Resources

However you use your journal, my best advice is to just pick it up and start writing. Don’t be afraid of getting those pretty white pages messy—just scribble whatever comes to mind (start with a grocery list or song lyrics if you need to … whatever helps you get the words flowing!).

All that matters is that you write. Journaling encourages self-awareness and once you understand your needs, you can start to take care of yourself.

Here are a few more resources to help you:

  • 7 Journal Prompts to Inspire Simplicity
  • Today I Affirm: A Journal that Nurtures Self-Care by Alexandra Elle (affiliate link) – this is one of my favourite guided journals!
  • Breathe Magazine| List Journal (affiliate link) – another one of my favourite self-care journals!
  • 7 Simple Days – a short course with journal prompts and mini-challenges to help you kickstart your simple and intentional living journey.

How do you use your journal or what are your self-care tips? Let me know in the comments! x

Author: Jennifer

Hello there! I'm Jennifer and welcome to Simply + Fiercely, a community of people striving to live simpler, more intentional lives. As a former shopaholic and workaholic, I know how it feels to live a life that doesn't feel true to what's in your heart. Fortunately, I've transformed my life and gone from feeling cluttered and confused to living a curated life filled with purpose and joy. Now I'm here to help you do the same. 👉🏻 Click here to get started!