How to Start a Journaling Practice: 5 Simple Steps for Starting (& Keeping) this Life-Changing Habit
I've talked about journaling over and over on the podcast and blog. You probably already know that while I don't call it a cure-all, I do call it a life-changing habit for me! My anxieties, situational depressions, relationship or career struggles have a place to go to get sorted out when I journal each morning. Wanting to hold myself accountable to a daily habit in the beginning, is what inspired me to start the Intentional Ten Podcast, which evolved into this blog, my starter journal PDF, my Journal Challenges, and more!
If you want to a quick overview of how journaling has been so beneficial for me, check out my first blog post, The Benefits of Journaling and Gratitude Practice. But what next? You may be thinking, "Okay, it sounds like journaling could do wonders for my mindset or my anxiety, so how do I start, and more importantly, how do I keep it up?" Today I'm sharing five simple steps to help you develop, and keep, this habit.
1. Get a journal that you love
Don't just write on anything, get something that you love and that inspires you. My husband keeps a simple black book from Green Room that just looks like a plain notebook. He wanted to buy the cheapest thing in the store which was flimsy and ugly, but I encouraged him to get something that he would enjoy opening each morning and could also carry around without feeling like he had a "diary." He's now on his second copy of the same notebook because it gives him the Goldilocks Effect. He likes that it's spiral-bound, lined, and big enough to hold enough thoughts on one page per day. It's not too simple, it's not too fancy, it's just right.
I on the other hand use a Minimalism Art white notebook with plain paper that is large (8.5"x11"). I use it for everything. I journal in the morning in it and then use it throughout the day for my to-do lists, meeting notes, calendar, lettering, and more. I take it with me almost everywhere and that makes it easy for me to stop and journal my thoughts at any time if I need. If you're a pen person like me, check out these lovely Tombow Fudenosuke colored pens that I use for my journaling. #thingsthatbringyoujoy
2. Get your household on-board
If you're going to do this regularly and you don't live alone, you need to get your roommates, family, significant other, even pets, on board with this as a daily routine. Let them know that this is important to your self-care and mental wellness and that you will be taking 10 minutes each morning (or evening) to journal. This will help it to become a sacred space, a sterile cockpit, whatever you want to call it, but a time to be uninterrupted. This will help you keep the habit going.
3. Set your alarm ten minutes earlier
Don't try to cram a new habit into your current routines which are probably pretty busy, especially if it's morning. Add ten minutes into your day just for journaling by getting up a few minutes earlier. I enjoy starting my day sitting in my pajamas sipping coffee and journaling. I would much rather get out of bed for this than get out of bed to scramble through my morning routine first.
4. Create your own format
In the beginning, I bought guided journals and customizable notebooks, but nothing really clicked for me, so I eventually moved to a blank notebook and created my own format that works really well (for me). Find a format of journaling that works for you and stick to that. If you need some ideas, you can follow along with my format on both the weekly podcast episodes or you can get download my free Ten-Minute Daily Journal for Moms or my Seven Days of Gratitude Journal, which essentially sets up a guided format for seven days. If you like it or find another format that you love, let me know!
5. Keep it simple
This is my biggest tip. I failed at journaling many times in the past because I tried to write my life's narrative. It became too long and exhausting and I couldn't keep it up. Just free flow whatever comes to mind. What's on the agenda today? What did you do yesterday? How are you feeling right now? It can be a one-liner or an entire page, it doesn't matter. Just commit to putting something on the page and you will begin to see that indeed it can be life-changing!
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