Journaling Ideas for Self-Care

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I bought my very first journal when I was nine. My mom had to lend me the 23 cents I was short. I know this because I wrote about it on the very first page in scribbly blue ink. What I didn’t know at the time was just how much journaling would become my ultimate, go-to self-care practice. 

Whether you’re curious about how to journal or you’ve been journaling for years, exploring your thoughts is a great way to carve out some time just for you. So we’ve put together some tips and ideas for getting started on your journaling journey and turning it into your very own self-care practice. 

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Carving out time for your journaling practice  

Now, I’ll be the first to admit I have way more journals than I need. Seriously, does anyone actually finish their journal before a new one catches their eye? 

But one of the biggest reasons why those new journals stay blank is we simply can’t find the time to write in them. That’s real. And the busier we become, the more important it is to give ourselves a little time to recharge, reset and reground. 

If you’re having a tough time fitting journaling into your schedule, here are a few things you can try: 

  • Keep it short: What you write doesn’t need to be long. Consider writing a line a day. It can be something memorable that happened or even tiny joys that made you smile.
  • Leave your journal out: Put your journal somewhere you’ll see it every day. If you keep your journal tucked by the coffee pot or on the nightstand, you’ll always have a little reminder. 
  • Or take it with you: When you’re on the go, bring your journal with you. Whenever a thought comes to you or you experience something journal-worthy, you’ll have it handy. 
  • Set a timer: Looking at a bunch of blank pages can be daunting, so start small by setting a timer. You can start with five minutes and as you build your journaling habit, increase it over time.
  • Release expectations: Your journal is there when you need it, so don’t feel like you need to write in it every day. It’s okay to stretch out the time between your entries and give yourself a bit of grace.
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Letting go of perfection  

It’s easy to get hung up on imperfections and worry your journal entries aren’t “perfect.” If you’ve ever searched the internet for inspiration, you know that folks are posting some of their most beautiful pages, which can be intimidating.

But remember that journaling is supposed to be flexible and fun. Whenever those thoughts of perfection creep in, always bring it back to your purpose and be kind to yourself. Remember that this is a moment to bring your whole self, so give yourself permission to do just that.

If the pressure of creating the perfect layout or having neat handwriting is bringing on the stress, consider having “messy pages” or “thought dumps” where you can scribble and doodle away without care.

Make journaling part of your self-care ritual  

However you approach self-care, whether that’s taking a social media break or indulging in a bubble bath, consider adding journaling to the mix. 

Maybe you want to add journaling to your Self-Care Sunday routine. Or use it to decompress after a stressful day. When you start viewing your journal as a self-care moment that you’re gifting to yourself, you can start to build a self-care practice that’s always there when you need it. 

Here are a few journaling ideas for self-care to help you make moment matter: 

  • Find a journal you love. Get one in your favorite color or with an image that inspires you. Grid pages? Lined? Blank? It’s all up to you. 
  • Give your journal a theme. If the idea of writing about anything and everything has you feeling stuck, give your journal a specific focus like life goals or family memories.
  • Begin with a prayer or intention. Try writing down a peace prayer, intention or mantra at the top of the page. You can even say it aloud until you’re ready to begin writing. 
  • Create a “journaling” playlist. Compile a music playlist that inspires you or puts you in the mood to let your thoughts wander.
  • Find your favorite spots. Do you love being outside? Under a cozy pile of blankets? Experiment with your journaling environment to find the best spot for you.
  • Light a candle or incense. Create the perfect atmosphere by infusing your space with your favorite scent. 
  • Use your favorite supplies. From markers to pens, discovering your go-to tools is part of the journaling fun.
  • Choose the best time for you. With a cup of coffee before the day begins? When you’re winding down for the day? Make it special by finding the time you’re most inspired to write.
  • Brew some calming tea. Settle in with your favorite beverage or herbal tea for an extra bit of “me” time.
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Journaling for mental health and wellness  

Journaling can do wonders for your well-being, and there are plenty of approaches to journaling that keep your mental health in mind. Here are a few to try:

Embrace Nature

Being outdoors or in a natural environment can be a powerful grounding tool. Grounding can keep us from getting swept up in our own thoughts and bring us back fully into the present moment. When you add in a bit of journaling, the world around you becomes your inspiration toward mindfulness.

Use Imagination

Allow your imagination to create the perfect day, your ideal safe place, or even a future outcome or goal you’re working towards. 

Explore Emotions

We contain a multitude of complex emotions and it’s okay to not have all the answers to why we’re feeling a certain way. Use journaling to process some of your thoughts and reactions. Invite yourself into a conversation by asking yourself questions and exploring answers. 

Track Habits

Whether you want to keep track of your daily mood or make sure you’re drinking enough water, journaling can be a great way to keep track of any area you wish to focus on. Whether it’s daily, weekly or whenever you have a moment to spare, explore different ways of checking in with yourself to find the best method. 

Create Lists

Lists can be great when you want to make note of a bunch of things without going into too much depth. Make a list of activities that calm you or experiences you’re looking forward to. You can even use your journal to make a list of self-care affirmations that boost your spirits.

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Make your journal a place where you can simply "be"  

However you choose to embrace journaling, know that it is a vital space of your own and within that space, there is immense freedom. If privacy is a concern, keep your journal in a special place only you know about or hide it within an unused book binding. 

Your journal is there to support you and hold each and every beautifully imperfect part of you, so bring your whole self to the page. Allow yourself to be honest with your thoughts and create room to voice how you’re really feeling. The next time you crease open your own journal, remember these are your pages and the only rule here is to simply be.


Did you find these journaling ideas for self-care helpful? Keep an eye out for upcoming posts with prompts for self-care and everyday journaling!