Hi, friend. So lately, everyone is talking about journaling and how beneficial it is. Journaling certainly helps me in SO many ways. It helps me get my thoughts and/or ideas into the physical world, organize them, and act on them (if need be). Journaling helps me to vent after a bad day, and show gratitude on any given day. It also helps me to articulate my thoughts and feelings before I need to share them out loud. It’s important to get your thoughts out of your mind and onto a permanent spot (like a notebook) and process the things that are happening to you both inside and outside.
The hilariously frustrating thing I find about our world is that people will be quick to tell you to go out and do things, but will never once explain how to go about doing them. Like you’re supposed to magically know everything and flourish in life without learning the essentials needed for survival (like how to set a personal budget, how to buy a home, how to tell if you’re eating the correct portion size, etc.). ANYWAY, if you have never kept a journal before, starting one might feel foreign and awkward and you might not know where to start. Below, I name and explain seven types of journal entries I personally use (or have used in the past).
Let’s take a look at how to go about writing some journal entries. First things first: what medium should one use to journal? My answer: whatever works best for you. I’ve journaled in the notes section on my phone, a random piece of paper, a fancy journal, an old notebook, and in Microsoft Word on my computer. There are even journaling apps for smartphones. In short: paper and a pen, and/or an electronic device with a word processor. Whatever works for you and your style will be just fine.
Now, let’s get to the good part.
The “I just need to vent” journal entry
Also known as the “dear diary” journal. This is the classic type of journal, seeing as most people might feel compelled to journal after something bad happens in order to process and blow off steam. This is the kind of journal you’ll use when someone pissed you off, something is bothering you, or you just want to get off your chest that Susan at work is “JUST A NOSY ASS BITCH” without actually saying the words out loud to someone. This type of entry is also perfect for confessions or admissions (good and bad) that you are not ready to tell anyone yet. *weight on shoulder, lifted.*
The “Brain dump” journal entry
This is a good journaling style for when you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. I like to do this when I cannot quite pinpoint why I’m filled with overwhelm. Make a list of literally everything on your mind—no matter what it is, big or small. I often number this “list” and can say that the last time I did this, there were 46 items. This often ends up looking like a to-do list and once you’re done, the reason you felt so stressed out is staring you right in the face. I like to come back to my brain dump after some time passes and cross off the items that I’ve already done or that have become irrelevant—it’s so cleansing!
The “Turning problems into solutions” journal entry
We’ve all got 99+ problems. Keep them floating around in your head without doing anything about them, and those problems tend to multiply exponentially. When I’ve got problems (which is all the time), I write them down in my journal one-by-one and leave some space (about 3-5 lines) between each one. I then go back through to each problem and write down potential solutions next to each one. These solutions will be those that you can actually act on to solve your problems.
The “Turning negatives into positives” journal entry
This is similar to the “Turning problems into solutions” entry. Here, you’ll write down or list out all of the negative things that are on your mind, or that have happened. You’ll go back to the top of the list and next to each negative, you’ll write the negative from a positive perspective. This is great for changing your mindset into one that’s positive, despite whatever nonsense might be going on. Turn that frown upside down and find the silver lining!
The “Writing prompt” journal entry
If you generally like to write and would like to journal regularly, this one’s for you. These writing prompt journals will ask you a question or tell you to think about something and react by filling in the blanks. These sometimes have the look and feel of your 2nd grade homework, but they are great for self-reflection. There are entire books out there with writing prompts that allow you to get creative and/or reflect on your life. My personal favorite is called “Burn After Writing” by Sharon Jones. You could even come up with your own questions or thoughts and have yourself respond to them in free-form.
The “My great ideas” journal entry
Ah, one of my favorites. I only started doing this a few years ago, when I realized that maybe I could do other things besides healthcare and science-y stuff. I had so many ideas dancing around in my head, but until I actually wrote them down and flushed them out more, I was stagnant. This blog actually formed from my “my great ideas” journal. I urge you to write down your ideas and entertain them by flushing them out, as this is more likely to lead to execution. My ideas journal has countless diagrams, maps, and other embarrassing illustrations of my ideas. Even if you decide to nix an idea, you probably would never have come to that conclusion had you not wrote it down and entertained it. Never, ever let your ideas go un-entertained. Write those bad boys down and come back later when you’re ready to execute.
The “gratitude” journal entry
Gratitude is an increasingly popular topic. Nowadays, everyone wants to practice gratitude, which is AMAZING. Gratitude is all about appreciation of your life and existence as is. There are many gratitude journals out there, but I like to keep it simple by listing all of the positives of the day in free-form (i.e. without prompting). If there don’t seem to be many positives in that moment, I list the first 3 that come to my mind. These can be as big as getting through a big presentation at work, or as “small” as having running water to brush your teeth this morning. I love to pair this with the “I just need to vent” entry because that way, I can acknowledge that the good things in my life do coexist with the “bad” and that is perfectly okay.
Speaking of pairing, there is no right or wrong way to journal. I typically do all of the above in some form throughout my journal notebook, depending on my needs in the moment that I decide to sit down and write a journal entry. And yes, most of those are all kept in one journal notebook unless I’m not near my journal and end up using my phone (if I really need to get something out of my mind). Really, the only exceptions to that would be the writing prompt or the ideas journals, which are in separate books for me because of their nature. It’s all about what works for you and what makes you feel your best.
Now, it’s your turn to tell me: do you journal, and if so, what does this look like for you? Let’s all chat in the comments!