Picture this: You just bought a new journal and pens, and you can’t wait to start writing every day. From reducing stress to helping you identify certain triggers and patterns, you’ve heard all about the benefits of journaling, and you can’t wait to start your new habit.
The first two days, you wake up, pour yourself a cup of coffee, and write in your journal for 20 minutes. On the third day, you sleep through your alarm and can’t make time for it. On the fourth day, you wake up and briefly think about journaling but decide you should prioritize breakfast instead. On the fifth day, you just forget about it.
Sound familiar? If so, don’t beat yourself up — this kind of thing happens to the best of us. Here’s everything you know about how to take your journaling from an idea to a practice you actually keep up with.
How to make journaling a daily habit
There are a lot of theories on how long it takes to form a habit. Some experts say it takes 21 days — or around three weeks — but more recent, sound research says it actually takes more like 66 days.
Regardless of how long it actually takes to make journaling stick, one of the best things you can do if you want to make journaling a habit is to make it manageable. In other words, don’t commit to journaling for an hour every single day when you know it will be hard to clear that amount of time in your schedule every day.
Here are some ideas for making journaling into a manageable habit:
- Commit to 5-10 minutes of journaling a day
- Journal at the same time every day, and at a time you know you’ll actually do it.
- Don’t put pressure on yourself to write about anything specific. If you don’t have a specific topic you want to address, try free-writing for five or ten minutes, or journal on a specific prompt.
- If you can’t journal every day, be realistic about that, and commit to three days a week
Here’s how to start journaling
Are you feeling motivated to start your journaling practice? To get things off on the right foot, be sure to choose a journal you actually connect with. For example, if you’re someone who likes a more organized, bullet journal style — that’s the journaling style Silk + Sonder most closely aligns with — go for that.
If you’re a more free-spirited type and you want to simply write what you feel, choose a beautiful, blank notebook and a great pen. If you know writing by hand isn’t exactly your thing, journal in a document on your computer. And if you don’t know what to write about, try a prompt — prompts are an excellent journaling tool that can take you from stuck to unstuck in a matter of seconds.
Keep this list of benefits in mind as you start your journaling habit
Having a specific “why” in mind is incredibly important when you’re working to build a habit. After all, if you’re not entirely sure why you’re doing something, why would you do it at all? Keeping this list of journaling benefits in mind as you work to form your habit can help:
Journaling can lead to improved mental health. By getting your thoughts out on paper, you may help ease symptoms of common mental health conditions like depression and anxiety, according to research.
Journaling can make you smarter. One study found that people who journal tend to have higher IQs.
Journaling may improve your physical health. Studies on journaling have found that people who journal regularly have improved immune function.
Journaling may improve your memory. Research finds that people who journal tend to have better memories.
Use these 10 journaling prompts to help you get started
If you need a little push to help you get started, here are 10 journaling prompts you can use as your start your practice (and you can feel free to go back to them at any point):
- What’s something that pushes you outside your comfort zone?
- What does your perfect day look like? Write it down from start to finish.
- What three words describe your dream life?
- Name five things you’re looking forward to this week or this month.
- At what point during the day are you at your most productive or energetic? How can you make better use of that time?
- What apps do you use most often on your phone? Are they adding or taking value from your life?
- Write a letter to someone you love letting you know how much you appreciate them.
- Think back to a difficult period in your life. What advice would you give to your younger self?
- What self-care activities bring you the most joy or sense of calm? How can you incorporate them into your life this week?
- Write down a joyful memory from the past week.
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