Journaling for Beginners

Journaling can be a great habit to help you learn more about yourself, discover what you are grateful for, and achieve personal, professional, and relationship goals. It is easy, doesn’t take a lot of time, and can be built into your routine without much pain.

The first step is to find a journal you like. There are many different options available for you. You can choose to go the simple route and use a spiral notebook in the school supply pile or a spiral journal with a beautiful cover. Spiral notebooks have the advantage of laying flat and being easy to use. Of course, there are many other options, leather-bound, lined, unlined, moleskin, or journals that have prompts already printed in them. The most important thing about the journal you choose is that you like it and keep it in the same spot, so it’s easy to find.

Secondly, choose a time of day that is convenient for you. It doesn’t matter if it is first thing in the morning before you go to bed or during your lunch. What will help is journaling at the same time each day, so it becomes a habit and part of your routine.

Don’t let the blank page scare you. If the thought of journaling brings up old stress from high school English class, let me reassure you, you do not need to fill the whole page. When you begin, start by writing 1-3 sentences. Write down observations about your day, comment on what made you happy or angry, and record a memory. The sentences don’t even need to make sense together. This is something you are doing for yourself and no one else. Keep your expectations friendly.

If writing a few sentences sounds daunting, why not write a headline for the day? Take a few moments to think about what happened during your day, your emotions, and what type of challenges you were dealing with. “Ray Saves The Day!” is a perfectly acceptable journal entry. Be sure to date it. It will help you remember what happened.

You don’t even need to write words. If drawing an illustration, cartoon, or picture seems more your style, doodle away! There is a famous saying that a picture is worth a thousand words….what is your image saying?

If you are currently seeing a counselor, I encourage you to bring your journal to your sessions. Take notes about what you talked about. These notes may help prompt your journaling throughout the week. Bringing your journal to counseling also will help you remember what you wanted to talk about with your counselor.

I hope you give journaling a try, whichever way you choose. This could become the habit that helps bring clarity and fun to your daily routines.

If you need support and would like to speak to a professional counselor about topics such as the one featured in this blog and are in the Chicago area, please contact Olive Branch Counseling Associates, Inc. at 708-633-8000. We are at 6819 West 167th Street in Tinley Park, Illinois 60477.

Written By: Christine B., Masters Level Intern

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