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

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29 thoughts on “5 Ways to Use Your Journal For Self Care”

  1. Thank you for sharing this list! I especially resonate with “indulge in your dreams”. This might be the most important (along with taking action on them!). Great post.

    Reply
  2. I love these tips! Journaling is my go-to self-care strategy – it helps free me up, but I’ve had to find little “tricks” to find the freedom in it. Your tips are down-to-earth reminders of how to get it done. Thank you!

    Reply
  3. I am just now looking into journaling. I’ve tried it here and there in the past (brain dump style), but I’ve never committed to it. The free flow or stream-of-consciousness journaling is what I feel drawn to sometimes because I just want to get those thought out of my head! Thanks for the recommendations. I like the writing prompt you offered: “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”. Thanks again.

    Reply
  4. A writing friend of mine gave me the tip to write without lifting your pen off the paper, don’t worry about punctuation, commas, full stops or any other grammatically correct filters. Just write. For me this was the most therapeutic moment. It was raw and the words came right from my soul. Your post is a great reminder for me to do that again 🙂

    Reply
  5. I’ve been writing out my feelings for a little while, and it has become a big part of how I process things!! I’ve never really journaled about my dreams though. Great idea!

    Reply
  6. Great tips! I’ve been journaling since I was a teenager and I’ve learned so much about myself year after year. I recently created my own journal called The Free Your Mind Journal to help people gain clarity of what they want and I’ve received a lot of positive responses from women who haven’t journaled in years.

    I agree with you journaling is a form of self-care and I like to write down 5 things I’m grateful for each day. Thanks for sharing!

    Siobhan
    http://www.befreeproject.com

    Reply
  7. Great post Jennifer! Thank you!

    I used to journal a bit sporadically at best, UNTIL…I found the bullet journal (thru Ryder Carroll…and better yet, Kara Benz of Bohoberry). I read all I could get my hands on last December and started my bullet journal journey in January 2016. Now I wouldn’t trade my daily entries for anything in the world. It’s changed the whole landscape of my journaling. FANTASTICALLY!! It is as you say…total self-care which we, as women, tend to put on the back burner to care for others.

    I have a group on FB that I’ve been growing and nurturing for a little over a year. (Barefoot Journaling Chronicles) I carefully post all kinds of creative journal inspiration on our closed group page, that I think will appeal to our members. We even have a quarterly short story writing contest, members can sharpen their skills on and win a prize centered around their story. Just finished our 5th contest with a lucky winner.

    If you, or anyone reading this would like to join us for more inspiration, please feel invited. I often enjoy showcasing my partners in craft for mutual benefit. It really does take a village. I would enjoy personally welcoming you into our group.

    Blessings on your journey,

    ~Evon Robinson
    Barefoot Journaling Chronicles

    Reply
      • Hi Jennifer,

        So happy you decided to join us! Happy to have you.

        I hope we can fuel your interest to give it a try…and to peek into our other treasures as well…we have a lot, and I’m adding all the time. if you’re interested in our short story contests, you can check out our articles section to see the previous contest winners, and our current winner is listed in the feed as of Aug, 12, 2016.

        You can also find plenty in our pictures/albums section. I love it when members share what they’re doing. I share occasionally as well.

        Let me know if you need any help getting around, okay?

        Blessings,

        ~Evon xx

        Reply
    • Hi Evon, I just requested to join – I’m struggling with Journaling these days, and need to get back to it. I’ve been looking at bullet journaling, even have everything I need to start mine, but I’m almost afraid to mess the pages up, if that makes sense. I guess I’m from the old ‘write it in a notebook’ school, and desperately need to try something new!

      Reply
      • Hello Julia,

        So happy you found me, here on Jennifer’s page. You couldn’t have found me at a better time. I will be starting my blog, “Lessons from… On the Wings of My Pen”, on January 30th. We will be breaking down the HUGE subject of bullet journaling baby step by baby step, giving you the much needed care, comfort, confidence, and assurance you need to begin…minus the fear. We have a lot going on and planned for BJC this year, 2017, so strap on your seat-belt! Ha ha!

        I will look forward to seeing you on BJC…shortly! We have many treasures to share with you to help you on your way. And we encourage our members to share their journey with us as well. We love seeing your growth and progress. My blog will be interactive, so feel free to ask questions as the need arises. I will do my best to help you any way I can.

        Blessings on your Journey,

        ~Evon Robinson
        Barefoot Journaling Chronicles
        “Lessons from…On the Wings of My Pen”

        Reply
  8. This was such an awesome post! I was simply habit tracking, but these suggestions, especially the writing prompts, are helpful!

    Reply
  9. I have always loved to journal — started in Grade 5, when a friend gave me my first diary for my birthday. 🙂 Journaling, for me, is the way I work through things… I write through my questions and doubts, and usually (not always, though) come across the insights/answers I need.

    Reply
    • It’s such a good habit, isn’t it! It’s probably the best thing I’ve done for myself this year. You’re so right about finding insights/answers – it’s amazing how things become clear when you write them down. Thanks for sharing your experience with us Jenn! x

      Reply
  10. I just love this post, friend! I think it’s easy to forget about self-care when we’re busy, but that’s when we need it most. I loved journaling as a child but haven’t done it in the past couple years. I think I need to go hunt one down and start writing again! Definitely sharing this everywhere!

    Reply

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