Why You Should Start Journaling and How


Sophia Weber, Writer

Mental Health Benefits

Journaling, or the act of recording your thoughts and experiences (through writing, voice recordings, drawings) is an incredibly beneficial practice. Journaling allows you to look at events from different perspectives, to release emotions that are difficult to convey in conversation, and to increase your sense of gratitude. Having a way to process and reflect is vital for your mental health, and journaling has been shown to “strengthen the immune system, drop blood pressure, help you sleep better, and generally keep you healthier.” Essentially, journaling is a way to put a piece of your current self in a permanent record of your thoughts and actions.


How to Start

Journaling can be anything you want it to be, as simple or as involved, as factual or as poetic. It is best to start simple, as the most important part in journaling is your consistency and the content of your writing. Therefore, you should choose the type of notebook that is easiest for you to write in, and your favorite writing utensil. From there, you can decide which type of journal you want to keep. However, you are not obligated to stick to this form, and it is probably best to experiment with different styles, as your preference may change depending on the day. Some options (other than the traditional way of writing down thoughts) include:

  • Gratitude journal- consists of writing a couple of specific things of which you are grateful for throughout the day
  • Bullet journal- often functions similarly to a planner, these are useful for tracking things such as internal moods and personal goals,
  • Shared journal- share a notebook between your friends
  • Scrapbook journal- add scraps of anything in your life that could fit in a book, such as pictures, texts, and quotes. 



As stated above, the most important part of journaling is to use the journal. Do not focus on the aesthetic Washi tapes and highlighter colors from Pinterest when starting out, as they will deviate from the main purpose of expressing your thoughts and emotions. Also, write as much or as little as you have time and energy for. Although consistency is important, journaling should never be a chore, as it is meant to be for your benefit.

 It can be helpful to set a specific time to write to help you keep track of your journaling. However, you shouldn’t feel constrained by this scheduling of your journaling and should feel free to visit your journal whenever you need. Experiment with writing at different times of day and see what works best. 

Another key point is to be truthful when you write and understand that anything you write is valid and an expression of what you are thinking at the moment. Do not focus heavily on spelling and grammar or structuring sentences and paragraphs. Ramble and go off-topic if you need, and feel free to begin thoughts as bullet points instead of transition words to let the thoughts flow more easily. You’re not writing an essay.  Additionally, nothing is too small or large of a topic to write about. If you wish, you can express how much you love Nutella on one page, and discuss your thoughts on what happens after death on the next.

 Finally, although journaling is a way to process difficult emotions, it is not a substitute for a person. If you feel you cannot manage something you write about on your own, talk to someone you trust. 



The best prompt is to write what you are thinking about and go from there. However, that can be difficult when starting out. Here are a few ideas:

  • Write down your dreams
  • Review books you’ve read, movies watched, etc
  • Copy quotes, poems, and passages you like
  • Make a playlist and write favorite lyrics
  • Describe your outfit
  • Write down a memory you’ve been thinking about
  • Describe your atmosphere at the moment (sounds, smells, visuals, etc.)
  • Write to your past or future self
  • Declare your opinion on anything you feel strongly about
  • Write down something you are feeling that you have difficulty expressing to another person
  • Vent about what is bothering you


For more information on bullet journaling, visit: https://bulletjournal.com/