Do you want to create the journaling habit? 

This is part of our How to Journal series of articles.

Journaling, like any other worthwhile habit, has many benefits. With the New Year soon before us, many people want to start, and hope to sustain, healthy habits, including journaling.

Journaling is a practice that has many benefits including personal growth, improved health, and gaining new insights. It can help you reduce stress, make life decisions and feel more joy in your life.

Lots of people will start out with consistent journaling and then slowly start to lose focus. As the weeks go by, the habit of journaling regularly can drop off until a person can’t remember the last time they journaled.  If you want to create the journaling habit, and stay motivated to journal, there things that can help you journal consistently.

Here are 6 tips for how to journal consistently

1. Know your why

Start by making sure you understand why you are journaling. Are you journaling for better mental health or to keep clear on what you must do to be productive and successful?  Write a one-line strategy of why you want to journal. You can jot it down on a post-it note and put it where you will see as a source of inspiration to journal.

For example, your note reminding you of why you want to journal might read:

“I sleep so much better at night when I journal and release my negative thoughts or stressors from the day.”

In this example, you have a lot of negative thoughts, and they swirl around in your head making it difficult to fall asleep. By releasing your thoughts onto paper, you can get what is on the inside out.  This helps you gain clarity on what is troubling you and gives you a chance to fix some issues, or at least rather than dwell on them at night.

Try writing out all the benefits you receive from journaling on the front cover of your journal. Review them often, as it will help you see that you are not just scribbling on paper without some reward.

2. Remember the writing and wellness connection

We all want to try to do things that can help improve our overall physical and mental well-being.  Ideally, you need a very healthy immune system. When you are stressed, your body releases chemicals that are harmful to your immune system and it can become weak. By journaling and processing what you are stressed about, you can come up with solutions for stress reduction. As your stress gets lower, your immune system gets stronger.

I mentioned how journaling can help you release negative thoughts. It also improves many areas of mental health, such as relieving stress and reducing depression or anxiety. Are you aware that it can also help you with past trauma? Even those who have PTSD have reported that journaling helps them to heal.

Studies have shown that when you journal, the brain’s memory improves. Other brain benefits from journaling are improved cognitive processing abilities and improved comprehension. In other words, journaling can make you smarter!

3. Have your journal with you

Journaling is one of those things you can do for a few minutes and gain lots of benefits. It also can be done here and there throughout your day. You can journal in a coffee shop, at home, waiting for an appointment, and other places.  It is portable and easy to do at different times and various locations. For these reasons, it can be helpful to have your journal and a pen with you.  For instance, I always have my journal in my bag and I can take it out and write for a few minutes in the midst of my day.

4. Schedule your journaling time 

Most things that we get done in our busy days, are things that we put in our calendars or schedules like meetings, going to the gym and errands.  You might want to do daily journaling, but perhaps when you look at your schedule daily journaling might not be possible for you.

There is no sense in stressing yourself out because you are not able to journal daily. If daily won’t work, commit to what will. Can you journal every 2nd day or three times a week? Do what is best for you but be sure to schedule it so that you have committed time for your journaling. Also decide how long you will journal for, maybe you only have 10 or 20 minutes a day to devote to your journaling habit. That’s fine!

5. Use journal prompts

The blank page can feel like a daunting place sometimes.  You don’t want that to stop you from journaling.  It can be helpful to use journaling prompts for ideas about what to write about.  This can help you write more often and build the journaling habit! You can read our What to Write In a Journal article to get  more ideas >>

If you want to receive a free journaling gift that includes journaling prompts and inspiration, as well as a free subscription to my weekly Journaling Museletteryou can sign-up here >>

6. Do what works for you

Remember, when it comes to creating the journaling habit, do what works for you. You can’t get journaling wrong. While there are things that can help you gain more benefits from it, such as various journaling prompts, tools, techniques and activities that can enrich your journaling practice – ultimately, whatever you right is write.  You can use prompts or you can free write. You can write in the morning each day, or you can journal at random times in your day.  You can have lined paper or blank, free write or journal on an app or on computer.  There is no one right way to journal.

Journaling is here to help you so don’t beat yourself up for not getting to it.  Simply commit to trying again until eventually journaling becomes one of your much loved healthy habits in your life.

“There is a Spanish proverb which says: there is no road, we make the road as we walk. I would say the same thing about journal writing – we make the path as we write.” ~ Christina Baldwin

Author: Lynda Monk, MSW, RSW, CPCC, Director of the  Lynda is passionate about the power of going to the page to know, grow and care for yourself through journaling. To learn more about how to journal, you might like to read our How to Journal – A Complete Guide to Getting Started with Journaling on our blog >>