Introduction to Journaling

Even if you have never journaled before, it’s easy to get started.

  • Journaling has no rules, so no worries about spelling, grammar, or punctuation; just put down whatever is on your mind or in your heart, however it comes out.
  • Know that you don’t have to be a “good writer” (whatever that is!).
  • You don’t have to do it every day. However, if you want to make it a habit, write at least two or three times a week.
  • You can journal in as little as 5 or 10 minutes at a time (or longer if you like, of course).
  • You can use paper and pen or go electronic, whichever feels more comfortable.
  • Keeping your journal private means you can express yourself as fully as you like.
  • To have a timeline of your entries, date every entry.

Uses for your journal

  • Self-expression, self-exploration, and reflection
  • Integrating and “containing” experiences
  • Creating meaning in your life
  • Improving physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being
  • Witnessing yourself
  • Envisioning your future
  • And much more

Two important cautions:

  1. Especially in difficult times, do your best to keep a balance of positive and negative in your journal. Never writing about negative emotions and always writing about negative emotions are not healthy practices.
  2. The flip-out rule: If writing about a painful or traumatic experience is going to make you flip out, don’t write. Instead, wait until you are stronger or have processed the experience, or work with a mental health professional.

Tip: Feel free to experiment with this and see what happens. If you can, keep your pen moving the whole time when you journal, even if you have to rewrite your last sentence several times or write something like, “I don’t know what to write,” over and over. Keeping your pen moving tells your mind that you aren’t done writing yet, and if your thoughts kick in again, you could discover something that might otherwise have remained hidden.