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How to tap into the power of journaling

Kid

Parent

Teen

Science

Mindfulness

May 1, 2024

Journaling, or writing down our thoughts and feelings, can be a powerful tool in observing and processing what we’re experiencing in the moment. And it can actually help us to feel better by improving our mood and lowering stress. 

Research shows that regular journaling can actually improve mental health, benefit your relationships, help you to stay organized, and support you in reaching your goals. The process of writing is therapeutic and the act of journaling encourages you to be more mindful of your thoughts and emotions. 

Why journaling can improve mental health 

Writing without judging ourselves can help us begin to uncover how all of our thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are connected to each other, as well as what kind of limiting beliefs we might hold so that we can start to change them for the better. 

The great news is that journaling doesn’t cost a thing (aside from a pen and paper), and it can be done anywhere, anytime. And If writing down words doesn’t work for you or your child, remember that drawing or doodling counts as journaling too!

Ready to start a journaling practice? Here are some tips to get you started. 

How to start a family journaling practice 

  • Commit to making journaling a daily habit. Doing something every day helps to solidify it as a habit. Find a time each day that works best for you or your child. Some people like to journal first thing in the morning and some like to keep a journal by their bed to write down thoughts, feelings, and events from the day. Find what works best and consider linking it to an existing habit, like journaling after you brush your teeth, to make it stick.

  • Find a calm, quiet space. Is there a comfy chair in your house where you won’t be distracted? Or maybe you like to sit at your desk with colorful pens and papers to journal? Or perhaps you like to sit outside and listen to the birds chirping while you write? Find a space that makes you feel peaceful so that you can focus on your journaling practice without being interrupted.

  • Determine your style. Some people like to journal on their computers or the notepad in their phone, while others relish having a go-to notebook and pen. Some make lists or charts and others freely write whatever comes to mind. You can keep it as simple or get as creative as you’d like. Remember that this is your space, so there is no wrong way to journal!

  • Consider setting a time limit. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of journaling each day, try setting a realistic time limit to make it seem more manageable. You may want to start with five minutes and work your way up if that feels right for you.

  • Try to be as open as possible. It can be tempting to edit yourself as you go, but try not to worry about spelling, grammar, or the content itself. Remember this is simply a practice of self-expression, so try to be as unfiltered as possible without judging yourself. Getting into a flow, without worrying about what anyone else would think, will allow you to better understand your personal experiences.

  • Use journaling prompts. If you need a little inspiration, try tapping into journaling prompts to get your thoughts flowing. You can start by writing five things you’re grateful for, 10 things that bring you joy, or describing one of your favorite places in the world. You can start a body positivity journal if you need to increase confidence or an art journal if you want to connect with your creativity. Try out different types of journaling to see what works for you. 

Remember that you can return to your private journal anytime you need to vent, process, dream, or calm down. Your journal is a place where you can express a range of emotions, like sadness, frustration, happiness, or anger. Try your best to make it a regular habit and notice how journaling shifts your mood over time. 

Caregivers, try journaling right along with your child to make it a family practice. Let them know that journaling may feel strange at first, but they’ll likely get more comfortable with it over time. If you need support processing your emotions, remember that your friends at Bend are here for you.