Updated: Jul 2
Journaling is a helpful tool for connecting with ourselves. Through journaling, we are able to unload some of the thoughts or feelings taking up space in our head, allowing us to create space for calmness and clarity. The process of journaling strengthens our relationship with self.
If you're new to journaling or are struggling to find a journaling practice that suits you, here is a list of 6 different types of journaling - give them a try and take what you need on any given day! The styles listed below all describe a pen-to-paper experience, but all of these can easily be done as a digital journal if that suits you better.
This is a great place to start if you're not sure what to write! When Prompt Journaling, what you write is in response to a specific prompt (often formed as a question). Journal prompts help to give you a focus on what to write and help you find clarity even before beginning. Because journaling prompts tend to get you thinking about things you may not have otherwise explored, this style of journaling is especially great for recognizing negative behavior patterns and releasing what no longer serves you. In yoga, the study of self is a practice called Svadhyaya; prompt journaling is a great tool within that practice.
Some tips for prompt journaling:
Give yourself plenty of time to fully explore the prompt(s)
Use the internet to search by topic: "journal prompts for _____________" For example, if you're struggling with feelings of grief, search for "journal prompts for grief"
Approach prompt journaling with a sense of curiosity
Don't be alarmed if heavy feelings come up, or deep insights are uncovered. Have resources you can reach out to for support (therapist, friend, family)
When finished, sit quietly and allow yourself a few minutes to absorb and process anything that journaling may have brought up. This is a great time to practice meditation or breathwork.
The more you engage in this type of journaling, the more you may find you seek it out!
Bullet journaling is part planner, part checklist, part diary, or whatever else you need it to be! This type of visual journaling is about function over form - ask yourself what you need your bullet journal to help you with (goals, life organization, time management, etc.) and build it from there. You can create your own bullet journal for maximum creative output and mindfulness practice, or you can purchase a bullet journal that fits your needs.
For maximum effectiveness, bullet journals are meant to be used daily to keep track of all the things that are important to you and your goals. Short phrases instead of full sentences are key, along with symbols and graphics. If you struggle with organization or things often feel chaotic for you, bullet journaling might be just what you need to sketch out some order! For examples, tips, inspiration, and more, visit bulletjournal.com
Art journaling is a visual diary. It's a place to record your thoughts and feelings through a combination of writing, drawing, painting, collage, and other art forms. All you need to get started is paper and pencil - you can add on to that however you wish with paints, markers, washi tape, and more. The purpose of art journaling is the process, NOT the outcome, so don't get hung up on the details. Try to let your feelings and emotions guide you without judgement. For inspiration, check out art journaling workshop instructor Tangie Baxter on Instagram.
Stream of Consciousness Journaling
Ready, set, write! Stream of Consciousness journaling is a constant flow of thoughts from head to pen to paper for a set amount of time. It acts like a brain dump, freeing up space in your head for things that really matter. Don't overthink it! Set a timer (say, 5 minutes) and just start writing. It doesn't matter what it is - even if it's "I don't know what to write".
One of the most basic forms of journaling is to simply keep a list of what you're grateful for each day. A consistent gratitude practice causes us to become more attuned to the pleasures all around us, and improves happiness and life satisfaction. You can make your gratitude journal as simple or elaborate as you'd like, or purchase a design that inspires you. The key to this type of journaling is to do it every day! Set a reminder on your phone if that helps, or stack it with a habit you already have.
For more information, tips, and templates, check out this site.
Daily journaling (sometimes called reflective journaling) is what it sounds like - a journal you write in daily. If you think that journaling is the same as keeping a diary, this is what you're imagining. Daily journaling is a way to record the events of the day and reflect on your thoughts and feelings. There are no rules around how much you need to write, or even that you must write every day - it's ok to skip sometimes! You may even decide that you'd like to write twice a day - once in the morning to set your intentions for the day, and again in the evening to recap and close out the day.
No matter which style of journaling you choose at any given time, remember there really are no hard and fast rules. Journaling is an experience for YOU, a way for you to express yourself and connect with your true self within. Like with any tool that benefits you, consistency is key to getting the most out of it - so even if you have only one sentence to write, write it! It keeps the habit going and thoughts flowing. Happy journaling!