A Beginner’s Guide To Keeping a Journal To Deal With Everyday Life

man with a journal
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Now more than ever, it’s essential to practice constant self-care to keep our mental, physical, and spiritual health in harmony.

Journaling is both a great habit and a great self-care activity that can be incorporated into your daily routine (or weekly, it is completely up to you). But you may be asking yourself, “What exactly is journaling, and why should I try it?” Don’t worry, we are here to provide you with some useful information and tips to get the most out of journaling.

What is Journaling?

Did you know there was actually a difference between a diary and a journal? For many, it’s a distinction without a difference, but by definition, a diary is a means of recording events as they happen. On the other hand, a journal is a little more personal and truly is limitless in how it can take shape. A journal is simply a book, notepad, or digital platform in which ideas and goals take shape.

Journaling allows you to organize your thoughts, document your goals, make life decisions, and even heal from past traumas. It’s truly a powerful tool that when incorporated into your regular routine can provide numerous benefits.

Why Should Men Journal?

Although many men may scoff at the thought of keeping a journal, many of the greatest visionaries in history had journals: Leonardo Da Vinci, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla, and Ernest Hemingway to name a few. Not to mention the numerous benefits from journaling are well-documented.

One of the best benefits of keeping a journal is that it helps to hold you accountable. Writing out your goals and aspirations is a means of tracking progress (or lack thereof). Imagine looking back on older journal entries about previous goals, and being able to celebrate how far you’ve come and what goals you have checked off your list. In addition to accountability, here are some other benefits of journaling regularly:

  • Manages stress
  • Gives you immortality
  • Allows introspection and reflection
  • Boosts your mood
  • Improves memory
  • Reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression

Choose Your Medium

If you’re trying to get into the habit of journaling, the first thing you want to decide is where you want to keep your thoughts. In this era of the “Digital Age,” journaling looks quite different from what it once was. And that’s the true beauty of journaling: You can customize it to suit your daily life and needs. Some men find it easier to jot down their thoughts with pen and paper, but your options are limitless (and can even include a combination of mediums). If you prefer a digital medium. Evernote, Notepad, WordPress, and Word Processors are great places to start if a paper journal isn’t your thing.

On the flip side, suppose you enjoy good old-fashioned pen to paper journaling, In addition to having a plethora of digital mediums for organizing your thoughts, here are a few types of journaling styles you may want to consider:

  • Bullet Journaling: Invented by the digital product designer Ryder Carroll, this option is perfect for the goal-oriented person who wants to organize a head full of ideas into concrete accomplishments.
  • Morning Pages: This mode is less rigid than bullet journaling. It simply involves sitting down with a pen and notebook, starting to write, and not stopping until you’ve filled up three pages. The idea here is to wean yourself away from the self-editing impulse that so often gets in the way of authentic self-expression.
  • One-Sentence Journaling: The one-sentence journal is perfect for the person who doesn’t have time to journal (or just has a hard time maintaining a routine). This format is as simple as it gets — all it takes is jotting down one sentence that sums up whatever stands out as significant about your day.
  • Scrapbook Journaling: If you’re the type who can’t throw away ticket stubs, matchbooks, or concert flyers, a scrapbook-style journal is probably your ideal form.

Read more: The Best Notebooks for Writing and Planning

Keep it Simple and Start Slow

Let’s face it, we know that new habits can be challenging to form because we have such short attention spans (especially in the era of social media). That’s why it’s important to start slow and schedule time out of your day to journal. If you don’t think you can commit to a journaling schedule, start slow. Five minutes here, seven minutes there — the idea is to slowly incorporate it into your daily routine. It doesn’t matter where or how you start. You can write a single page or even a single sentence. What’s important is the formation of this habit.

If you’re having trouble adhering to a journaling schedule, try doing it at different times of the day. You could even try writing in a new environment. Switching up your surroundings can spark creativity, engage your senses, and give you different inspirations. Whether you decide to write in front of a café, at the dog park, or even on your balcony, try writing in a new environment to switch up the mundane.

Create a New Habit

If you have a hard time creating new good habits, try the 21/90 method. It’s pretty simple: Commit to a goal for 21 days straight, and after those three weeks you have successfully created a new habit. Congratulations! But don’t stop there, continue with this new habit for another 90 days, and you now have a permanent fixture to your lifestyle. As aforementioned, the benefits to journaling are numerous, so if you’re looking for a new productive habit to form, you may want to make it journaling!

Not Sure What to Write About?

Scrapbook Journaling
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If you’re just getting into the swing of journaling, or if you’re experiencing writer’s block, there’s a couple of things you can do to help get those creative juices flowing.

Write about gratitude. Taking the time to express gratitude has a host of benefits, including improved sleep quality, reducing stress hormones, and it even is said to make you live longer. If you struggle to find a topic to write about, just simply use it as a time to write about what you’re thankful for. It is even said that showing gratitude daily is the one thing all successful people share in common — just food for thought.

In addition to expressing gratitude, try using a daily prompt. Many journals already come with prompts written in them, but you could also search for them online. With this, you will never experience writer’s block again.

Set a Timer

Creating new routines can be challenging, and that’s why we’d recommend setting a timer. Adding a timer into the mix not only improves discipline and mindfulness but most importantly, it sets a firm intention. During the time allotted, your intention is clear: to write your thought for x amount of time. With intention comes concentration and focus. Focusing on a very specific task for a specific amount of time helps to make things more manageable.

Just Write

This one is pretty self-explanatory: Just write and let your stream of consciousness flow. With countless thoughts running through your mind, often simultaneously, a stream of conscious writing is a great way to just clear your mind. But why should you incorporate a stream of consciousness writing style? Well think about this: Are you ever bogged down by the worries, questions, and to-do’s floating around in your mind all day? Some may feel it in the morning, some may feel these thoughts right before bed, and they can become overwhelming.

Stream of conciousness writing is simply writing whatever comes to your mind. There are no specific rules for this; just take pen to paper and write down any and all thoughts in your mind. The idea is to not force the process. Often time, this style of journaling brings to the surface a lot of thoughts buried within your subconscious. This is not only healing but also helps you to gain insights on things you may not have even known you needed.

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