Journaling Techniques to Give You Peace of Mind

Cora Gold

Journaling has the proven power to give you greater peace of mind while helping you develop valuable insights into yourself and your behavior. 

Maybe you’ve thought about adopting the practice but never took concrete steps to start. Here’s everything you need to know about embarking on your journaling journey, from choosing the right format to easy-to-master techniques that make the process less mysterious so you can reap the wellness benefits. 

Why Start Journaling? The Many Benefits

Everyone is busy these days. Why should you take precious time to journal? Once you begin reaping these perks, you’ll quickly see the value in spending a few mindful minutes putting the amorphous thoughts in your head to paper. 

  • Improved emotional well-being: One recent study examined the effect of a two-week gratitude journaling exercise on toddler parents. Those who completed the protocol demonstrated significantly lower stress levels and stronger mental well-being than the control group. 
  • Increased self-awareness: Who are you deep inside? How do you really feel about X issue? It’s astonishing how putting your thoughts on paper clarifies them and, through that process, creates a clearer picture of what you value and gives your life meaning. 
  • Stress reduction: The simple act of expressing your feelings on paper helps you process difficult emotions, reducing your overall stress load. 
  • Improved problem-solving skills: Your frontal lobe also controls higher thought patterns, including your problem-solving ability. 
  • Goal-setting and accountability: Putting your goals in writing helps you flesh out a plan to make them a reality and lets you track your progress. 

How to Start Your Journaling Journey 

It’s easy to start on your journaling journey — all you need is a writing surface and an instrument. However, answering these FAQs can help you personalize your adventure.

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Should You Use a Paper or Online Journal? 

Some people find handwriting soothing. However, those with arthritis or who simply prefer the convenience of a keyboard can journal in a password-protected document or use an app. Either way, carrying your journal with you is a wise habit, as it’s there when you need it and you can make use of downtime, like commuting on the bus. 

How Can You Make Journaling a Habit?

Twenty-eight days isn’t a hard-and-fast habit-forming rule — people adopt habits at varying rates. However, setting aside five to 10 minutes daily, even if you only jot a quick list, eventually makes the behavior routine. 

What Do You Do When You Don’t Know What to Write? 

Use technology to your advantage. You can find thousands of journal prompts online to jumpstart your creativity. 

11 Journal Techniques to Improve Your Peace of Mind

Scores of journaling techniques can give you peace of mind and grow your wisdom. You can use one or more in your journal — mix it up depending on what moves you on a given day. Here are 11 of the most popular to jumpstart your insightful journey.

1. Gratitude Journaling

Gratitude journaling is an excellent starting point if peace of mind is your goal. Research in children shows gratitude plays a key role in happiness from age 5 forward. By age 11 or 13, grateful kids are more optimistic, and those older than 14 express more satisfaction with their lives. 

Think of it this way: It is impossible to ruminate on the bad things in your life while simultaneously writing about the good. Gratitude journaling gently shifts your perspective from the negative to the positive. 

2. Bullet Journaling

Bullet journaling is great for those days when your mind is full, but time is short. You might, for example: 

  • Write lists of what you have to do — with a note on why those tasks matter
  • Outline the steps to reach a specific goal 
  • Take a fun, daydreamy mental break by brainstorming all the places you’d love to visit or the flavors you enjoy

3. Travel Journaling 

You don’t have to be a globetrotter to get into travel journaling. Many useful guides to scenic locations came to life not from highly paid visiting authors but from locals with a passion for sharing the magic of their destination with guests from all over the globe. Of course, those who plan to visit all the national parks in the continental U.S. or who regularly hop planes to Mumbai and Dubai can also journal about their journeys. 

4. Food Journaling 

Is your primary hobby in the kitchen? Food journaling is a glorious way of passing down beloved recipes and the stories behind their creation. 

You can also use food journaling to learn about your body and health. For example, writing down how you feel after ingesting certain meals may help you uncover mild food allergies that don’t pose an immediate deadly threat but nevertheless impact your quality of life. 

5. Dream Journaling 

If you’re fortunate enough to remember your dreams, you can gain considerable insight into your psyche by writing them down. Return to them later to analyze their meaning. 

Dream journaling also helps you notice patterns in your sleepytime adventures. For example, frequently dreaming of appearing naked in public can signify a deep-seated insecurity you might want to address through formal therapy. 

6. Prayer Journaling 

You don’t have to belong to a formal religious institution to get into prayer journaling. This technique might take the form of writing letters to the Divine or even your inner higher self if you take more of an informal spiritual path. 

However, those who are members of a formal religion may seek journaling advice from their leadership. You might find journals with scripture-based prompts that help you reflect on your beliefs. 

7. Reflective Journaling

Reflective journaling is often what people think of when they consider starting a journal. It’s when you ask yourself a question and dig deep into your answer through writing. 

You may have learned this journaling technique in school when your teacher began class with a reflection question you wrote about in a special notebook. Adults can purchase books of prompts or work through the big questions weighing on their minds that they don’t dare discuss with others. 

8. Confidence Journaling 

Confidence journaling can help you conquer that fear of embarrassment if you feel it holds you back in life. While you can write, “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and gosh darn it, people like me,” over and over, this technique works best when you dig a little deeper. 

What, specifically, do you do well? What are your talents and gifts? For example, if you have job insecurities because of AI, list everything you can do that a computer or robot cannot. 

9. Memoir Journaling 

If biting into a madeleine sends you on a Proust-esque trip down memory lane, memoir journaling may be the technique for you. This style is most akin to keeping a diary. 

However, you don’t have to stick to a boring recital of that day’s events, beginning with, “first, I ate breakfast.” You can use memoir journaling to recount specific, meaningful events in your life, pulling them out of your brain cells and going over them to search for the lessons or revel in past joys. 

10. Letter Journaling 

Sometimes, getting things flowing is easier when you imagine writing a letter to a friend. Although fictional, Lionel Shriver’s 2003 novel “We Need to Talk About Kevin” follows such a narrative style. 

This technique comes in handy when the urge to rant at someone in your life grows overwhelming, but voicing your feelings could lead to unwanted consequences. Maybe telling off your boss in front of the whole office would get you fired in real life, but you can have fun penning the imaginary dramatic scene in your journal. 

11. Art Journaling 

Sometimes, the words simply won’t come. However, art picks up where the dictionary leaves off. Art journaling is what it sounds like — using visual representations instead of words to work through your feelings. 

For example, your journal can double as a sketch pad. Other people feel more comfortable taking clippings from magazines to create collages. Even doodling will help reinforce the journaling habit — it’s all about putting your pen to paper. 

Journaling for Peace of Mind 

Journaling has impressive mental health benefits and can give you greater peace of mind. It provides insight and clarity while easing stress and engaging brain regions involved in creativity and problem-solving. Whether you opt for pen and paper or an app, you have much to gain from this positive habit.

Cora Gold is a wellness writer and editor of women’s lifestyle magazine, Revivalist, where she covers journaling, self care and mindful living. Connect with Cora on LinkedIn, Pinterest and X.

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