Skip to main content

How to start journaling to support your own wellbeing in 2023

Journaling has a host of mental benefits -- here is how to start journaling daily

man with a journal
Westend61/Getty Images

Well-being is more than just hitting the gym on a consistent basis and downing the occasional protein smoothie post-workout. What you do outside the gym is equally crucial, if not more so.  Now more than ever, it’s essential to practice constant self-care to keep our mental, physical, and spiritual health in harmony — an overall holistic approach.

Journaling is both a great habit and a great self-care activity that can be incorporated into your daily routine (or weekly if you are just getting started, it is completely up to you). But you may be asking yourself, “How should I start journaling?” We’re here to cover some of the basics and provide you with some useful information and tips so you know how to journal daily — or weekly!

What is journaling?

Did you know there is 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.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

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 of 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

Image used with permission by copyright holder

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, or has issues with ADHD). 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.

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 healthy 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, hopefully, 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 in 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
Yuri Nunes/Getty Images

If you’re just getting into the swing of journaling, or if you’re experiencing writer’s block, there are 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, and reduced 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 consciousness 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 not to 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.

Editors' Recommendations

Jeff Turbett
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Jeff Turbett is a health and wellness coach with over three years of experience transforming clients lives and physical…
This site helps you get started with Reddit (so say goodbye to your free time)
How to find the best subreddits for you
A picture of the Reddit app with notifications.

One of the ways we love to kill time — and learn things we never did in school — is to take a deep dive into the world of Reddit. No matter what age you are or the subject matter you are looking for, Reddit has you covered. But, like with any social media platform, it takes some getting used to if you haven't messed with it. If you have no idea how to join Reddit, but you've seen the posts on your Instagram and want to give it a try, we'll help get you started.

What is Reddit?
If you are of a certain age, you miss the old Yahoo chatrooms. The anonymous connection with people from all over the world just hit differently then. Reddit is the next best thing, bringing people together in a mostly positive way.

Read more
There’s a new way to play the game of pickleball right in your own living room
The first VR pickleball experience aims to broaden the booming sport's appeal
Playin' Pickleball's YouTube page.

The game of pickleball received a major digital addition to its booming popularity this December: The Playin Pickleball virtual reality game. Designed for playing pickleball virtually via the Meta Quest 2 VR goggles, the first official launch for Playin Games claims to be the most authentic reproduction of pickleball in virtual reality. (As to motion sickness, it’s best not to play while not moving. For explanation of gameplay, stick to written instructions and pickleball videos.)

Playin' Pickleball/YouTube Image used with permission by copyright holder

Read more
This simple chart shows you how to choose the right size TV for your living room
What size TV do you need? This handy chart tells you
modern living room with tv on a stand

Whether you recently moved into a new space or are planning to upgrade your entertainment setup, you may be asking yourself, “What size TV do I need?” It’s tempting to buy the biggest screen you can with the highest resolution. But, if the screen isn’t the right size for your room, it can overpower the space and may cause unnecessary strain on your eyes. Thankfully, this TV size chart from Reddit makes it easy to choose the perfect-sized television for your living room, bedroom, or den. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about TV size, distance, and more.


Read more