How to start mindfulness journaling
HLN's wellness expert Hannah Bullimore talks us through how to begin journaling, including a downloadable workbook to help you get started.
By Hannah Bullimore
Journaling is having a moment…
As well as keeping you super organised, journaling can also help you to keep positive and creative with gratitude journals reminding us of all we have to be thankful for and creative writing offering a new hobby to keep our minds busy.
With just about everyone currently working from home, or at least spending more time at home, we are taking a deep dive into the different forms journaling can take. From creative writing prompts to daily mindfulness and weekly goal setting, we have it all covered.
Journaling has been popular for thousands of years, but gone are the ‘Dear Diary’ days of recording every little thing about our day – that’s what social media is for, right? Now, journals are sleek, to the point, and offer a wealth of benefits.
Mindful journaling can help you to stay calm in difficult times, tuning into the things you have to be grateful for. Writing creatively or about the day can both help to improve your writing style and boost your memory – it’s possibly the most accessible ‘brain workout’ as you only need a piece of paper and a pen! Journaling also has the ability to help you destress and realise just how hard you’re working and how much you can and are achieving.
Journaling can be added to any self-care practice you already have, whether that’s yoga, meditation, walking or simply writing after a nice bubble bath before you go to sleep.
When to journal?
Everyone is different and just like practicing meditation might work for you at different times throughout the day, journaling is the same. For some, starting the day with journaling is the best way to get into a positive mindset while for others, journaling before bed will help them get a good night’s sleep. I also enjoy a weekly and monthly journaling ritual in which I look back at what has happened and make plans for the following week or month. This helps keep me on track with my creative, personal, and career goals.
Here are some tips to help make journaling a habit that sticks:
Write a little every day.
Perhaps each morning you write down something you hope to achieve that day, or at night you write down one thing you’re grateful for. Start small and soon you’ll find yourself writing more.
Writing creatively is a great hobby for everyone. You don’t have to want to be published, just write for yourself and free your imagination to take you anywhere in the world!
Writing about memories can also be a lovely experience, looking back on cherished childhood memories can really give your mood a boost.
Plan, plan, plan!
Journaling really can help you to achieve more with your days and weeks. Begin with the big picture – what do you hope to achieve in a month? Then break it down into weekly and daily goals. Be prepared to change things up as life happens, but keep an eye on your to-do list so that you know you’re on track.
Add to your self-care routine.
If you’re a yogi or practice meditation, perhaps consider journaling just before or after your practice to reflect on whatever emotions have come up during your practice. If you don’t practice yoga or meditation, what about journaling before sleep to free your mind of any pesky thoughts that would otherwise keep you awake all night.
What should I journal in?
The truth is that all you need to journal is a pen and piece of paper. Any old notebook will do. However, if you want to create a ritual out of journaling then you might consider investing in a special notebook just for your own thoughts and musings.
There are some products on the market which can give you daily prompts, I enjoy these but like to have space to do my own thing when the mood takes me.
For a normal notebook, I prefer lines so that my writing doesn’t become too messy as my thoughts take over. I also prefer a smaller, notebook of A5 or smaller so that if I want to journal on the go I can.
Many of us feel the fear of the blank page. It might be that you don’t want to spoil those crisp white pages with a mistake, but it’s important to remember that no one else will be reading your work, so you can just let go and have some fun!
If you’re not sure how to get started for the first time, then you’re in luck. We have designed our HLN Journaling Guide with lots of prompts to help you. From mindfulness journaling to creative writing prompts. There’s something for everyone! We even have a weekly print out that you can use as many times as you like to create structure in your journaling.
Everyone will enjoy different aspects of journaling so try out different approaches and find the ones that work for you.