Do you want to start journaling but you’re overwhelmed by all of the different options out there?
Well, you’re in the right place!
In this post, I’ll break down the different types of journals you can keep to make it easier for you to choose which one seems like the best fit for you!
Most of us had a diary as a teenager where we wrote about our latest crush, the fight we had with our parents, or the latest gossip in high school. It was a place where we could express our fears, our emotions, our dreams, and our difficulties.
And most of us stopped writing in a diary once we reached adulthood.
However, there are so many benefits to writing in a journal (it sounds more adult to say “journal” than “diary”, doesn’t it?) that we could all benefit from.
Many studies have shown the positive effects of journaling can have on one’s mental and physical health.
How can you benefit from journaling?
Making journaling a part of your self-care routine can and will have such a positive impact on your overall mental health and well-being.
Journaling can help you:
- Manage anxiety
- Reduce stress
- Cope with depression
- Prioritize your goals and dreams
- Analyze and work through your problems, fears, and concerns
- Identify patterns of behavior and negative self-talk and make a conscious choice to work on them
Get Started on Journaling
W – What do you want to write about? What’s going on? How do you feel? What are you thinking about? What do you want? Name it.
R – Review or reflect on it. Close your eyes. Take three deep breaths. Focus. You can start with “I feel…” or “I want…” or “I think…” or “Today….” or “Right now…” or “In this moment…”
I – Investigate your thoughts and feelings. Start writing and keep writing. If you get stuck or a drawing a blank, close your eyes, and recenter yourself. Re-read what you’ve already written and continue writing.
T – Time yourself. Write for 5-15 minutes. If you have an alarm/timer on your PDA or cell phone, set it.
E – Exit smart by re-reading what you’ve written and reflecting on it in a sentence or two: “As I read this, I notice—” or “I’m aware of—” or “I feel—”. Note any action steps to take.
In summary….it’s easy to W.R.I.T.E.!
And most important: there is no right or wrong way to journal!
Different types of journals to keep
When we think of journals, we often see a pink diary with hearts and scribbles in them but there are so many different types of journals to choose from!
Here are 15 different types of journals you can keep and find one that works for you:
1. Morning pages
Julia Cameron, the author of The artist’s way, came up with the idea of “Morning pages”. Write 3 pages first thing in the morning. Write about anything you like without thinking about it. That laundry you’ve been meaning to wash, the dog that barked all night long, the new restaurant that opened down the road, anything that crosses your mind.
“Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize, and synchronize the day at hand. Do not overthink Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.”
2. Bullet journal
Bullet journals are super popular lately and for good reason. The concept was created by Ryder Carroll as a way to be more focused and productive.
This type of journal is perfect to get your life organized.
You create your journal with specific sections and keep track of tasks and events each month. The journal can be as artsy or minimalist as you want. However, this journal does require preparation and time so if you’re looking for a quick journaling practice, this might not be the one for you.
Check out this short video to get started:
3. Gratitude journal
It’s so easy to go through life and get caught up in our daily lives (especially the negative aspects) that we forget to be grateful for the little (and big) things. Expressing gratitude daily improves your well-being and happiness. It has been shown that journaling for five minutes a day about what we are grateful for can enhance our long-term happiness by over 10% (Emmons & McCullough, 2003; Seligman, Steen, Park, & Peterson, 2005)!
A gratitude journal is just that, a journal where you record what you are grateful for every day, where you keep track of everything positive and good in your life. You can do this by carrying with you a small notebook and writing when inspiration hits or you can include it in your daily routine.
4. One sentence a day journal
In her book “A happiness project: one sentence a day”, Gretchen Ruben talks about her habit of writing one sentence a day in her journal. She writes about what happened in her day as a way to remember special memories in the future.
If you feel that writing long entries in your journal every day is too daunting, then give the one sentence a day journal a try! Writing one (or 3-4 sentences) is less overwhelming than trying to write multiple pages, especially when you’re just starting your journaling experience.
5. Dream journal
Have you ever woken up for your sleep and thought “wow, what a great dream” only to forget it 10 minutes later? Keeping a dream journal is a great way to record your dreams, interpret them, and give you some insight into your subconscious.
Keep your journal on your nightstand and write as soon as you wake up so you can capture as many details as possible before they fade!
6. Prayer journal
Prayers don’t have to be just said but they can be written as well!. Write down your favorite prayers and come back to it as often as you like. The words you write can also serve as words of encouragement when you feel down. This is a different way of connecting with God but just as powerful.
7. Self-reflective journal
This type of journal is used to reflect on life’s big thoughts. You write about positive or negative things that happened to you and you reflect on how it impacted you, what you learned from it, and how you grew as a result.
8. Travel journal
A travel journal is a perfect way to make lasting memories of your trips. This way you have more than just photographs of your vacation (that usually stay on your computer forever!).
In a travel journal, you write about your experiences, the places you visit the food you eat, the people you meet. You can add train tickets and museum stubs to it. You can trace your itinerary and make notes for future reference. Think of it as a scrapbook you put together while on your trip.
9. Food journal
Keep a food journal if you want to track what and when you eat. Take a critical look at your eating habits to make healthy changes in your diet and lifestyle.
It can also be useful when you’re trying to figure out if something is making you sick (a food sensitivity for example).
10. Pregnancy journal
Are you pregnant and trying to capture every special moment but afraid you’ll forget?
The pregnancy journal is a wonderful tool to record everything you go through during your pregnancy. You use it to record symptoms, changes you experience, your feelings, things you’d like to remember.
11. Exercise journal
Similar to a food journal, use this journal as a way to track your exercise routine, how you feel after a workout, the goals you want to achieve. It’s a great way to see the progress you make and will help you achieve your results faster.
12. Quotes / Poetry journal
If you love to read, I’m sure you come across words that inspire you and that you don’ want to forget. Jot down your favorite quotes and poems to remember them and re-read them when you need inspiration. You can also use this journal to write your poems as they come to you.
13. Affirmation journal
Positive affirmations are a powerful tool to manifest the life you want and bring about positive change. They’re a great way to set intentions for your day and your life. Write down an affirmation a day that matches your intention and say them out loud.
14. Art journal
Let your creative side shine! Doodle, draw, paint, sketch, make collages, anything that gets your creative juices flowing. Turn your feelings and emotions into art. You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy this.
15. Reading journal
Love reading? This journal is useful to keep track of books you’d like to read and the ones you’ve read. As you’re reading, write down your thoughts and feelings, passages that you enjoy for future reference, quotes that resonate with you.
Which type of journal is right for you
Ok, now that you have a better idea of the types of journals you can keep, how do you know which one is for you?
Before you start writing, ask yourself a few questions:
- Why do you want to start a journal?
- What do you want to get out of it?
- How much time do you want to spend on journaling?
The answers to these questions will give you an idea of which journal type would be the best fit for you and that you’re comfortable with.
Try out different styles. If one style doesn’t fit, try another one!
And remember, there are no rules to journaling. You can do whatever you like. Don’t try to create the perfect journal, just be true to you and don’t censor anything. Journaling shouldn’t be a chore or a source of stress, quite the opposite.
Journaling is a wonderful way to gain clarity, to know yourself better, and improve mental health. It’s also a great way to be more organized and productive. So why not give it a try?
Take the pressure off and allow yourself to just be and have fun with it. Trust me, you won’t regret it!
What type of journal do you keep? I’d love for you to share in the comments!
Till next time,