Mindfulness journals: how to start wellness journaling and its benefits
Mindfulness journals can help us take control of our daily anxieties and manage our thoughts and emotions. Want to know more? You're in the right place.
Life is busy and in today’s fast-paced world our days can be filled with various stresses, pressures and worries. It’s no surprise that mindfulness has become such a popular practice, helping to take control of our daily anxieties and manage our thoughts and emotions.
Mindfulness involves being in the present moment and bringing your focus to the now. The mental health charity Mind describes it as a technique with the aim to ‘become more self-aware, feel calmer and less stressed’, as well as feeling ‘more able to choose how to respond to your thoughts and feelings, cope with difficult or unhelpful thoughts and be kinder towards yourself.’
What are mindfulness journals?
A mindfulness journal is a great step to start practising mindfulness, designed to track and organise your thoughts as part of your daily routine. Journaling will encourage you to live in the moment by releasing any unwanted thoughts and anxieties and instead focus on shifting to a more positive mindset by practising self-talk and reflection.
Mindfulness journals come in all shapes, sizes and forms and are there to help improve mental health and wellbeing. Whether weekly or monthly journals, with writing prompts or blank pages, they can be used in the morning or evening to provide a healthy habit to your life.
The five top benefits of mindfulness journals
Mindfulness journaling offers a multitude of benefits for mental and emotional wellbeing, from reducing stress and anxiety to improving sleep quality, focus, concentration, and gratitude. Here’s a selection of some of our favourite mindfulness journal benefits.
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1. Reduce stress, anxiety and depression
According to the mental health charity Mind, the practice of being mindful can ‘help to manage common mental health problems like depression, anxiety and feelings of stress.’ Jotting down your thoughts on a daily basis is a great way to express your negative emotions and worries.
It is a cathartic activity, bringing the focus to those feelings and offloading without judgement. By writing these down and recognising your emotions, you can start attempting to shift to a more positive mindset by rewiring those thoughts and finding ways to feel more positive.
2. Increase happiness
By releasing your emotions and reducing anxieties, you are taking productive steps to improve your mental health and wellbeing. Slowing down and focusing on your emotions is very important and will, over time, encourage a more positive mindset and a greater state of happiness, with increased gratitude, contentedness and life satisfaction.
3. Boost self-esteem
Mindfulness journaling is about self-awareness. By being in tune with your emotions and admitting to your thoughts and feelings, you are being your truest self. This can feel empowering and boost your confidence, building up your self-esteem and feelings of control.
4. Improve sleep quality
Headspace, a mediation platform with the mission to ‘improve the health and happiness of the world’, explains that writing in a journal can also improve the quality of your sleep, as ‘instead of having thoughts swirling around our head, we are releasing them to the page, unburdening our minds.’ This means we can drift off easier and stay asleep with less disturbance.
5. Encourages creativity
Expressing yourself through writing is a creative experience. Whether blank pages or a couple of prompts to help you along the way, filling up a journal with your thoughts and feelings is a form of expression, encouraging creativity in all shapes and forms - there are no rules or right or wrong ways to do it.
Some of our favourite mindfulness journals
- Wellness Journal, Papier, £26: A stylish hardback journal featuring 12 weeks' worth of undated pages with space for feel-good goals, self-care ideas, and sleep and meal tracking.
- Gratitude: A Day and Night Reflection Journal, Waterstones, £12.99: Record all the things you are grateful for in this 90-day journal and create a positive habit of daily gratitude.
- The Positive Planner, Not On The High Street, £26: Jot down all your thoughts and feelings in this 12-week journal, featuring inspirational quotes and illustrations to guide your self-care journey.
- Betterday Journal, Amazon, £19.99: Practice mindfulness and be in the moment with up to six months of journaling, featuring writing prompts and quotes for inspiration.
- Shape Your Habits Diary, Kintsugi, £25: Free your thoughts onto paper with this undated journal, featuring 177 blank dotted pages with motivational quotes throughout.
- Notes to Mindfulness, Wolf and Badger, £42: Treat yourself to this guided three-month journal and improve your self-awareness skills and positive outlook.
- The Five Minute Journal, Amazon, £31.50: Boost your wellbeing with just five minutes of journaling a day, improving your confidence and gratitude.
What to look for in a mindfulness journal
Mindfulness journals vary in design and structure. Here are a few things to consider when looking for your first mindfulness journal.
There are digital journals to use online or in apps or physical hard copies of mindfulness journals to invest in. Digital journals are not quite the same experience, however.
It is best to get off screens to practise mindfulness the most efficiently, and the action of writing with your hand is part of the process. We suggest pen to paper for the most beneficial experience.
Mindfulness journals vary in size and structure, whether weekly, monthly or yearly. Some journals offer 12 weeks of pages to get you started on your journaling experience, while some have space for up to six months to a year of writing down your thoughts. New journalers may find a shorter, smaller journal a good introduction for them.
Mindfulness journals can also be dated or undated - this is up to you which you choose. Having dates may give more of a structure to your journaling, while some people like the flexibility of having a bit more freedom.
Often journals will include an introduction in the beginning few pages to provide a guide on how to start your mindfulness writing journey.
As mentioned, mindfulness journals can vary quite a lot in their designs and structures. One thing to look out for is whether they include writing prompts or if the pages are left blank. Having prompts can be a useful starting point, especially if your first time journaling, helping to inspire and guide you through what to write.
Examples of prompts could be ‘what/who am I grateful for?’, ‘what did I accomplish today?’ and ‘how will I make tomorrow better?’ On the other hand, some people prefer to have blank spaces to work with for total freedom of expression.
Quotes and illustrations
Many journals will include positive quotes throughout their pages, for example, ‘happiness is a journey, not a destination’ and ‘look how far you’ve come’.
These uplifting sayings scattered along the way can boost your feelings of positivity with words of encouragement. Some journals also feature illustrations with a similar intention.
Mindfulness journals often have a couple of sections dedicated to tracking your mindfulness goals, enabling you to note down and keep a watch on certain patterns.
Some will have meal trackers to stay on top of what you are eating, others will have mood trackers so you can jot down a brief summary of how you are feeling each day.
Tracking your wellness habits is a great way to take control of your mental health and wellbeing, monitoring how you are doing on a daily and monthly basis.
How to use a mindfulness journal: six tips to help you get started
There is no right or wrong way to use a mindfulness journal, it’s down to you to write what you feel and use it when you want. However, here are six pointers to help you use your mindfulness journal the most effectively…
1. Be honest
This journal is a judgement-free zone. Take time to open up and write about your true feelings, whether it's an experience you went through during the day or ongoing stress or anxiety you are experiencing. Use this as an opportunity to vent your emotions.
2. Start with positive affirmations
Many journals open up to positive affirmations at the beginning of the book. Start your writing experience by going through some of these to put your mind into the zone. Beginning or ending each day with these affirmations can really encourage a positive mindset.
3. Use the writing prompts
Writing prompts are a great way to get you started with journaling. Questions such as ‘what are you grateful for?’, ‘what did you experience today?’ and ‘name three things that challenged you today’ will help to guide you in your writing. Remember these are only prompts - you do not have to answer them, and there is never a right or wrong answer. Prompts are there simply to kick-start your thinking and assist you.
4. Choose the time of day
Picking the right time of day for you is important when it comes to writing in your mindfulness journal.
Whenever you decide to dedicate your attention to it, make sure you give yourself enough time to sit down and focus. There’s no point in rushing, as you won’t find this as effective in the long run. Spending 15 to 20 minutes on mindfulness journaling is usually a good starting point, and it might also be useful to write at the same time each day to build it up as a habit.
- Morning: Spending time journaling first thing in the morning is a great way to start your day. Clear your head and set out goals and intentions for the day ahead.
- Evening: Writing in the evening is also an effective time, as you can reflect on your day and what you’ve been through, clearing your mind pre-bedtime. It’s also a great opportunity to set up some goals and ambitions for the next day.
It’s important to make some time to occasionally reflect on your previous entries in your journal. This way, you are able to be aware of your feelings and emotions felt at certain times, becoming more self-aware and working on self-improvement.
6. Choose the right setting
Having a calm environment with little disruption will enable you to focus and give your full attention to reaching your thoughts. Using a nice pen to enjoy the feeling of writing is also recommended to add to the mindfulness experience.
Do mindfulness journals work?
According to the NHS, ‘studies show that mindfulness can help with stress, anxiety and depression’, and ‘by paying more attention to the present moment – to your own thoughts and feelings, and to the world around you – can improve your mental wellbeing.’
Mindfulness journals are a great way to practise this, taking control of your thoughts and feelings, writing them down and living in the present moment. This allows us to gradually become more aware of ourselves and our emotions, helping us deal with any issues more productively. The NHS explains that ‘awareness of this kind may also help us notice signs of stress or anxiety earlier and deal with them better.’
Slowing down and checking in with yourself is paramount to looking after your mental health, and dealing with negative, irrational thoughts and putting coping mechanisms in place is essential. Mindfulness journals provide a powerful space to connect with these feelings, become aware of our thought patterns, learn to let go, and make plans and intentions, as well as practising gratitude.
There are a huge variety of mindfulness journals available for every type of person, whether a beginner in mindfulness or a more experienced practitioner and they quite literally are designed to put the power in your hands. Prioritise your wellness with this simple self-care method.
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Cordelia Aspinall is a Digital Writer for Immediate Media, working across brands including The Recommended, RadioTimes.com, MadeForMums and BBC Gardeners’ World. She has previously worked and written for digital publications including Condé Nast Traveller, The Evening Standard, Cosmopolitan, and several other lifestyle brands.