Thriving Together Series

Thriving Together Series: Journaling for Well-Being


By: Zareena Khan, Assistant Director of Student Well-Being, Center for the Advancement of Well-Being 

“The best time to begin keeping a journal is whenever you decide to.” 
– Hannah Hinchman, artist, writer, and calligrapher 

Journaling can strengthen your well-being because it allows you to build intention, reflection, and mindfulness into your life. It’s fairly easy to start a habit of journaling. You don’t need a lot of time or supplies for journaling, and you can choose from many different forms of journaling to discover a journaling practice that works best for you. Here are the key well-being benefits of journaling and how to get started journaling for well-being.

The Well-Being Benefits of Journaling 

Research has consistently shown that mindfulness promotes well-being, stimulates positive emotions, and lowers stress-related symptoms like anxiety and depression. In one study, mindfulness practices like journaling helped college students relax, improve their sleep, and better handle situations such as academic stress and work-life balance. Journaling also provides an avenue for creativity, which is shown to be a contributing factor to emotional, psychologcial, and social well-being.

How to Start Journaling 

As you think about adopting a journaling practice, consider the following questions:

  1. What do I want to get out of journaling? There are many reasons to keep a journal, such as tracking your goals, preserving your memories, and processing your feelings. Understanding your intentions can help you craft a journaling practice that meets your unique needs.
  2. How much time do I have to dedicate to journaling? Journaling does not have to feel like a chore or another task on your to-do list. Creating a journaling practice that works with your schedule can help you to be more consistent in your practice.
  3. What materials do I already have to work with? It can be tempting to buy new journaling supplies, but try starting with what you already have and going from there. This keeps your focus on the journaling practice itself.

Examples of Simple Journaling Practices 

There is no right or wrong way to journal, and you can always pivot your practice as your needs change. Try some of these simple journaling practices and see what interests you.

  • Stream of Consciousness Writing: Sometimes referred to as automatic writing, stream-of-consciousness writing involves writing freely for a period of time without editing your work. It allows you to release your emotions and articulate your thoughts without worrying about organizing them, and can help you identify your thought patterns.
  • Bullet Journaling: The Bullet Journal Method is a mindfulness practice disguised as a productivity system. Bullet journaling allows you to explore what it means to live an intentional life by “tracking the past, organizing the present, and planning for the future.”
  • Gratitude Journaling: Carving time out to express gratitude can be beneficial for your overall well-being. This could be as simple as jotting down five things you are grateful for each evening, or writing for a few minutes each day.
  • Commonplace Book: There are no rules when it comes to the commonplace book. It is essentially a collection of information that you want to save for future reference – notes, quotes, song lyrics, fun facts, and anything else you want to keep on hand. The commonplace book has existed for quite some time – Leonardo da Vinci, Sei Shonagon, and Isaac Newton are just some of the many famous keepers of a commonplace book!
  • Daily Journaling: Each day, ask yourself: “What do I want to remember about today?” By keeping a record of daily highlights, you can look back on these positive memories later to uplift your mood.
  • Art Journaling: If words are not your preferred medium, try expressing your feelings through an art journal. You can use art journaling prompts, or let your intuition guide you as you create each page.
  • Guided Journals: Using a guided journal can be helpful if you are overwhelmed by the idea of a blank notebook, like structure, or want to focus on something specific. Many guided journals exist on topics such as self-care, personal growth, living intentionally, and more.

Journaling Resources

These resources can support whatever type of journaling practice you decide to start.

Additional Resources

This article features the benefits of journaling.

This article covers the mental health benefits of journaling.

This Ted Talk video discusses the benefits of journaling.

This Ted Talk video explores how journaling can be useful.

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