A guide to journaling for mental wellbeing

Paul Dodd
January 27, 2024
min read

Finding moments for self-reflection can seem like a luxury. However, carving out time for yourself through habitual journaling can be a powerful tool for improving productivity and nurturing your mental health and overall wellbeing.

It's a practice that I've started recently, that's helped me to delve into my thoughts, motivations, and emotions, offering a calmness and insights that have lead to reduced stress and increased confidence in navigating daily life.

The beauty of journaling lies in its accessibility and flexibility. Your journal is your personal space, somewhere to express yourself without fear of judgement or restriction. All you need is a pad, a pen, 5 minutes and you’re good to go. There is no right or wrong style, method or approach - the key is to find a method that resonates with you and is sustainable for your lifestyle.

Before you begin - some things that helped me

Choose a time of day that aligns with your schedule and lifestyle, making it easier to integrate journaling into your routine. If daily writing feels daunting, set small achievable goals such as a minimum of five minutes per day or dedicated sessions over the weekend.

As you sit down with your journal, reflect on your intentions. Are you seeking self-improvement, inspiration, or simply a space for introspection and relaxation? Clarifying your objectives will guide your journaling process and get you used to thinking with intent.

The blank page can be intimidating, leading to bouts of writer's block and uncertainty. Don't put pressure on yourself to write a certain amount, sometimes a handful of words and the time reflecting is enough.

I found that using prompts helped overcome barriers and write consistently and with intention. Here are 15 that I’ve found useful when starting and committing to journaling, designed to stimulate reflection and growth:

  1. Identify a long-held aspiration and explore the obstacles hindering its realisation. How can you overcome these challenges?
  2. Define a goal you're actively pursuing and consider the resources or support systems that could accelerate your progress.
  3. Write down recent achievements or milestones, recognising the resilience and determination that led to your success.
  4. Identify areas for personal growth or skill development, outlining actionable steps to expand your knowledge or expertise.
  5. Write down a lingering task that evokes anxiety, devise a strategy to overcome inertia and take action.
  6. Reflect on relationships that enrich your life, brainstorm ways to nurture deeper connections and shared experiences.
  7. Evaluate the digital tools and apps that shape your daily routine, discern which ones enhance productivity and which ones contribute to distractions.
  8. Consider ideas for meaningful interactions with loved ones, prioritising quality time and genuine connection.
  9. Acknowledge 5 small victories from the past week, consider how you can leverage these successes for future challenges.
  10. Envision your ideal day, note the moments, locations, and individuals that bring joy and fulfilment.
  11. Consider kindness - identify simple gestures that you can do to ease someone's day and strengthen your bond.
  12. Set ambitious yet attainable goals for the month ahead, prioritising objectives that align with your values and aspirations.
  13. Sketch a loose outline of your envisioned future five years from now, allowing room for growth and adaptation.
  14. Compile a bucket list of experiences and aspirations that you’d like to attain this year.
  15. Acknowledge the need to let go, how could you free yourself from past burdens?

If you’re at the start of your journaling journey, remember that there's no right or wrong approach. Trust your intuition, experiment with different techniques, and above all, prioritise your mental health and wellbeing. With each entry, you're not just documenting your thoughts—you're nurturing a deeper understanding of yourself and building discipline and resilience that can help you in the face of life's challenges.

For further mental health, wellbeing and human performance tips, advice and strategies check out the video and written content available to imatta subscribers

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