Embracing Journaling: Making Journaling a Habit

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The science is clear on the benefits of journaling and why embracing journaling and making it a habit is a good idea. But that doesn’t mean that journaling has to be difficult or weigh us down, according to Ikia Young, LPC, MHR, MBA.

Ikia presented a webinar for All Counseling on the topic of embracing journaling. Here’s just some of what we learned about making journaling a habit.

Understand the Benefits

Ikia began her presentation by reviewing some of the key benefits of journaling. After all, if you want to establish a journaling habit, you have to understand why the practice is important to you. 

Benefits of journaling she identified include:

  • Accepting that our worldview can be distorted and other views may be worth consideration
  • Aligning your feelings and actions
  • Identifying goals and planning how to accomplish them
  • Helping us learn
  • Reaching clarity on issues bothering us or ideas
  • Establishing a relationship with ourselves
  • Working through concerns or issues
  • Creating self-awareness
  • Practicing mindfulness
  • Building emotional resilience
  • Evaluating the quality of ideas
  • Reducing stress
  • Improving physical and emotional well-being

Overall, Ikia said journaling helps you get your feelings out of your head and onto paper so you can process them better.

Recognize Journaling Types

One of the things Ikia said people don’t necessarily recognize is that journaling doesn’t have to be sitting down and writing pages of words. This concept of journaling is why some people are overwhelmed by it. Journaling can be sentences and paragraphs on paper, but it doesn’t have to be, she said.

Types of journaling include:

  • Logging ideas or intake or output, like in a quote or food journal or even a check register
  • Taking notes, like at work or in the classroom, when you want to remember something
  • Tracking progress toward goals
  • Listing what you’re grateful for each day
  • Drawing or creating some type of art
  • Creating a list of things you want to check off
  • Documenting ideas you want to share with your partner

Journaling can look like many things, and it can be electronic or digital. The most important thing, Ikia said, is to find an approach that works for you.

Build a Routine

The thing about a habit is that you need to do it more often than not. Embracing journaling and building a habit means planning to journal every day. To do that, you must make it part of your routine. 

To build a routine, you should plan when, where, and for how long you’re going to journal, then you should strive to do it every day, Ikia said. Once you start journaling daily, you’ll be motivated not to break the chain. You’ll continue journaling daily until it’s just something you do.

You can help build a routine, Ikia said, by leaving your journal somewhere you know you’ll see it and take action. For example, put your journal and pen on your pillow or leave it in your office chair, she said. Just the placement will help nudge you to take action.

Keep It Small

“Small changes can equal remarkable results,” Ikia said. Your journaling habit doesn’t have to be huge or complex to be meaningful or valuable. 

Ikia encourages practicing the law of marginal gain with journaling. It’s the theory that something small but significant can result in monumental results, she said.

To apply this to embracing journaling, Ikia said you can commit to just writing a sentence a day at first, understanding that one sentence a day can help you build a bigger habit that will really serve you.

Use Prompts

One thing that often stops people from journaling is that they don’t know what to write about. They’re overwhelmed by the idea of the blank page or screen. In those cases, Ikia said journaling prompts can be super helpful.

Journaling prompts are short questions or statements that give you a sort of writing assignment for the day. Here are more than 550 journaling prompts for when you’re out of ideas.

Note the Changes

Once you begin to see the changes in your life, or how you’ve reaped the benefits of journaling, you’ll be more likely to consider the practice, Ikia said. So, take note of how journaling is helping you or changing how you think, feel, and behave. It will motivate you to continue.

Learn More About Embracing Journaling

This post is meant to provide a high-level overview of our discussion with Ikia Young on embracing journaling. If you want to benefit from the entire talk, including hearing Ikia’s amazing examples, watch the full webinar below.

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