The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Journaling

colors and journaling

As an adult, it is hard to find the correct place to vent your feelings and organize your thoughts. However, instead of holding it all in and exploding at the wrong time and the wrong place, we need to find a rightful way to vent.  The solution? Journaling.

I know, don’t roll your eyes yet! Journaling seems to be everywhere these days! But I assure you, journaling is not overrated. It is not something you will try for one week and then get tired of it, not if you do it the right way.

Therefore, I invite you to see what the hype is all about!

Journaling promotion

The Complete Beginner’s Guide to Journaling

Benefits of journaling

You might be wondering why so many people talk about journaling as the “magic” solution for your problems. Well, although it is not a magic solution, it is true that depending on the type of journal you choose, journaling can result in many benefits for your life.

Hayley Phelan, a journalist in the New York Times, writes the following: “There are the obvious benefits [from journaling], like a boost in mindfulness, memory and communication skills. But studies have also found that writing in a journal can lead to better sleep, a stronger immune system, more self-confidence, and a higher I.Q.”.

So, before we get into how to start a journal, let’s list some of the benefits.

  • Tracks your emotions
  • Boosts your mood
  • Increases/trains your memory
  • Boosts your confidence and self-esteem
  • Improves your communication skills
  • Improves your mental health
  • Helps you to set and keep track of your goals until you achieve them
  • Relieves your stress
  • Reduces anxiety
  • Increases creativity
  • Helps to stay mindful
  • Provides emotional healing and closure
  • Serves as a braindump
  • Grows your perspective
  • Increases gratefulness and positivity
  • Improves yourself through a process of introspection

The list of journaling benefits could go on and on.

In conclusion? Journaling benefits you in every aspect of your life and it is definitely something you should be trying as part of your self-care routine and your personal growth journey.

Types of journals

Before we talk about how journaling is done, it is important to understand the different types of journals you can have. In fact, there are different types of journals for different types of needs. Let’s see some of them.

Dream journal

The dream journal is used to keep track of your dreams. You write in it as soon as you wake up to record all the details you remember from the dreams you just had.

This type of journal is made to help you keep track of your dreams and help you study what they could be telling you about your thoughts, concerns, needs, and even your physical health.

Gratitude journal

This journal is probably one of the most common. By keeping a gratitude journal, you shift your perspective towards the positive things happening in your life. As a result, you learn to appreciate what you have. With this journal, you will have a more positive view of life.

Reading journal

A reading journal is, of course, for the bookworms. A reading journal aims to complement the stories you read and to record your impressions of certain characters or certain events. Moreover, you can write your favorite quotes in it or any new vocabulary you learn.

Travel journal

The name “travel journal” speaks for itself. After you return from a trip, it often becomes like a dream. You just remember the general details and you kind of forget about the little details that added up and enriched the whole experience.

Therefore, by keeping a travel journal with you during your trips, you can record every day’s happenings and feelings, so you can remembrance them later when you are at home.

travel journal

Fitness journal

A fitness journal is for all of those who are working on their physical health. If you find yourself struggling to lose weight or eat healthier, a fitness journal might be useful for your journey. With it, you can track your weight loss and you can see what you could be improving in your routines or your meals.

Pocket journal

I like to see a pocket journal as a “brain dump” or a “Quick or I’ll forget!” journal.

When I started journaling, I would use receipts or random papers in my bag whenever I needed to record something or vent a feeling caused by a situation that occurred during the day.

A pocket journal comes in handy exactly for that. Whenever something happens on-the-go or you need to write down an amazing idea before you forget, you can resort to this mini-journal on your bag to record it.

Finance journal

Probably one of the least popular journals, because of the fear it might induce in us. A finance journal, as many of the other journals, helps you monitor your actions.

The difference? In it, you monitor everything related to your finance, from your spending habits to your saving goals. In fact, a finance journal can help you heal your relationship with money.

Goal journal

A goal journal is one of my favorite journals and if you try it, it will be yours too. A goal journal traces what you do to make your goals happen.

In it, you can write your achievements, your milestones, your rewards, what you need to change and so much more. Keeping a goal journal will help you focus and constantly work on your goals.

Bullet journal

If you’ve ever seen any pictures related to journaling on Pinterest, you’ve probably seen pictures of bullet journals. Bullet journals are your all-in-one journal.

The dotted pages invite you to create calendars, to-do lists, mood trackers, goal trackers, reflection paragraphs, fitness trackers and so much more.

Therefore, you can convert any of its pages in any of the journals listed above.

bullet journal

How often should you be writing in your journal?

When it comes to journaling, we could say nothing is written in stone. Regardless, to experience the benefits of journaling in a long-lasting way, it should be done frequently.

But, how frequent?

According to the Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley: “ Evidence suggests writing occasionally (1-3 times per week) is more beneficial than daily journaling”.

Moreover, writing in your journal doesn’t have to be an hour activity. In fact, any time between 5 and 30 minutes will suffice to organize your thoughts, being a quarter of an hour the sweet spot.

How do you journal?

In paper or in digital?

Whether you journal in a physical notebook or a digital one is up to your taste. They both have their benefits.

On one side, journaling on paper will enhance your memory and will engage you in an activity that is non-screen related.

On the other side, digital journaling is more private, saves physical space, and stays in the cloud so it never gets lost.

You can combine both of them according to your needs too.

The specific way to journal…

There is none. There aren’t any restrictions to journaling, it is all up to you. You could write a five-page stream of thoughts, you could doodle or you could use journaling prompts.

In addition, you could use any tool you want. Let it be either a pen or a pencil, stickers, stamps, or crayons. Remember, the important thing about journaling is to get started.



Journaling as part of your lifestyle…

Keeping a journal might be deemed as a kid’s thing. I classified it as such for some time too. However, as soon as I wrote my first page as an adult, I wish I had done it sooner.

More than writing a simple page, when you journal, you start a self-discovery process in which you become conscious of your actions and feelings and the reasons behind them. As a result, you will understand not only what you want to change but what you want to do instead.

So why not try it? Don’t get too formal. Don’t see it as a project. Grab a pen and paper (or a digital device if you prefer) and start to write.

And if you need inspiration and ideas, just make a quick search on Pinterest.

Let your prejudices go and just start writing today.



Phelan, Hayley. (2018, Oct 25). What’s All This About Journaling?. The New York Times.

Greater Good Science Center. (n.d.). Gratitude Journal. Greater Good Magazine.,happiness%20than%20journaling%20every%20day.

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