How to Start Journaling + 25 Journal Prompts for Personal Growth

by | Nov 2, 2020 | Wellbeing

Journaling is a great way to explore our thoughts, emotions, beliefs and fears, and express ourselves in a personal and creative way. In today’s post we’re talking about how to start journaling + continue reading for 25 journal prompts for personal growth.

Have you ever thought about or wanted to start journaling? I’ve been journaling ever since I was a little girl. It’s always been something that I can turn to when I’m feeling stressed, stuck in a rut, or in need of working through my emotions.

Today we’re talking about what journaling is, the benefits, and how to get started including a few approaches that you can take.

Don’t forget to download the 25 Journal Prompts for Personal Growth PDF. These thought-provoking questions are great if you are new to journaling and are designed to help you dig deep & learn more about yourself in your next journaling session.

What is Journaling?

Journaling is a practice of writing out what’s on your mind, exploring and reflecting on your thoughts, emotions, beliefs, and fears, and a way to discover more about yourself. There’s no right or wrong way to journal and many different approaches you can take.

Benefits of Journaling

Journaling has many benefits, including:

Reduces stress: Journaling helps reduce stress by decluttering a cluttered mind. It’s a great place to express ourselves and not only help ease a busy mind, but also act as a form of therapy. Journaling is a place we can turn to that’s free of judgement and allows us to process our emotions, and although sometimes scary, also helps us face our troubles.

Self-discovery: Journaling is also a great way to reflect on your day, your week, or your month. Reflecting helps us to understand more about ourselves, what we learned, what we could have done differently, or what we did really well. These are all essential to personal growth and allows us to feel a sense of connection with where we’re at and where we want to be in our lives.

Journaling enables us to be honest with ourselves. Being honest can be scary. It’s easy to ignore underlying truths within ourselves because certain things can be frightening to admit, especially when it mean making changes. Taking the time to sit down and write about how we feel can open us up in ways we don’t expect, and this sense of honesty and vulnerability can be very liberating and inspiring.

Gain Insights: Journaling not only helps us release pent up frustrations or anxieties, it also gives us the opportunity to see different angles of a situation, reach our own conclusions, find clarity, and even encourage and uplift ourselves. More often than not, we already have the answers to the questions we’re asking – sometimes we’re our own best person to consult. Journaling is a great way to tune into our intuition and recognize what is and isn’t right for us

Relaxation: Journaling is incredible for relaxation and is one of the main reasons why I recommend journaling around bedtime, although anytime is just fine. Taking a few minutes to relax and write while laying in bed – free of technology and electronic devices – gives us the chance to organize our thoughts and relieve the pressure from a busy mind. It’s a great way to spend quality time with yourself to check in on how you feel. It’s a win-win situation: you relax your mind and get a better night’s sleep, too!

Calming activities before bed help to promote restful sleep, such as reading, drawing, writing, form of meditation

Creativity: Journaling allows us to get creative, and this is one of the best parts! In a world where we’re busy with a long list of responsibilities, it’s easy to lose touch with our creative side. Use a journal as a way to express yourself creatively either through poetry (my personal favourite), short stories, lyrics, even doodles and little bits of artwork. There are no rules to journaling, so make the experience your own.

How to Get Started

Invest in a Journal or Notebook

Enjoy the process of choosing a journal for yourself. This is one of my favourite things to do. Every year or so after I’ve finished a journal, I make a trip out to the store to choose a new one that I love, such as Chapters/Indigo, Staples Business Depot, Arts/Crafts stores like Michaels, or even the dollar store. Look for one that’s not too small. I usually go for an 8.5×11 size.

Pick a Time

There’s no right or wrong time of day to journal, but you do want to choose a time in your schedule where you can be alone and uninterrupted. Before bed, in the evening, as part of your morning routine (this is a great time to set intentions for the day!), or any time you are feeling emotions that you want to dive deeper into is a great time to pull out your journal and write.

You don’t need to journal every single day. Again, whatever works for you! For me, sometimes I journal once or twice a week, sometimes every day for a few days, and other times I go a couple of months without journaling. It’s just a tool I turn to when I need to express myself, so there’s no specific time or amount that is required. Experiment and find what works for you.

What to Write

Many people wonder what to write about in the first place when getting started with journaling. It can seem daunting or uninspiring to imagine staring at a blank notebook. But there are countless things for you to journal about. Here are a few examples:

  • Limiting beliefs or fears that you have
  • Something you feel overwhelmed, stressed, or worried about
  • A decision you are grappling with
  • To recap on something that has happened
  • Person or profession vision
  • What you’re grateful for

Writing Styles

Again, there’s no right or wrong way to journal, but here are some examples of writing styles that you may find helpful when getting started. I personally use a combination of these depending on how I’m feeling and what I’m writing about.

Stream of Consciousness: this is a style of writing whereby you simply write on 1-2 pages without stopping. You don’t pause to think about or judge what you’re going to write, but rather, allow whichever thoughts are present to be transferred on to paper, with or without the use of punctuation. This is a fun practice to do sometimes as you may find you repeat yourself several times, which can be an indicator of something that’s very prominent on your mind.

Brain Dump: I love doing brain dumps. This style of writing comes in handy for work or school or when you feel overwhelmed with a LOT of different things on your mind. To do a brain dump, simple write down ALL of the things that are weighing you down. This could be tasks you need to complete, upcoming projects, or things going on in your life. It feels so good to get it out! Then, you can organize these things by priority to help you feel more mentally organized.

Pros and Cons: writing out a list of pros and cons comes in handy when you are trying to make a decision. I’ve journaled out many a big decision in my life, including various pros and cons lists, and it’s really helpful to take a look at it in an objective way to help you gain some clarity.

Short & Sweet: sometimes all you may want to write is one simple sentence or a paragraph or two, and that’s perfectly fine!

Doodles & Drawings: adding some doodles or pictures to your journal alongside what you’re writing, or on their own, is a great way to further capture what it is you’re trying to say. It’s a fun way to express yourself, especially if you don’t feel like you have many words to say.

Diagrams: I love using diagrams for various things. Try a venn diagram (circles with intersections) or a mind map (a large circle with a subject in the centre and words coming out of it). This can be a helpful way to sort through the thoughts stirring around your mind.

Jot Notes: jot notes come in handy when you’re not in the mood for writing out several paragraphs. When you just want to get some stuff off your mind quickly and in an organized way, use jot notes/bullet points.

Poetry/Storytelling: writing your thoughts out as poetry is such a beautiful way to express yourself. I personally adore poetry and I love writing in this way when I don’t want to be so explicit, but creative instead.

My process of journaling is usually a combination of the above. I usually begin by writing down the date and then titling my journal entry something that reflects what I’m about to write about. Then I jump in by writing about something that happened to me, something that’s bothering me, how I’m feeling that day, what I need help with, or a fear or limiting belief that I want to explore.

25 Journal Prompts for Personal Growth

Download the 25 Journaling Prompts PDF! You can print this out and refer to it the next time you open up your journal to write. They are also listed below:

  1. Right now I feel…
  2. In 3 words, I would describe myself as…
  3. What lights me up? What could I talk about endlessly?
  4. What topic gets me riled up? What do I/would I passionately take a stand for?
  5. What’s bothering me or making me feel stressed right now?
  6. What am I really good at? What comes naturally to me?
  7. What skills do I want to improve?
  8. What new skill would I love to learn?
  9. What do I value most in life?
  10. What is my greatest accomplishment? What strengths of mine helped me achieve it?
  11. What do I hope to achieve this month, in 6 months, 1 year, or 5 years?
  12. A hardship that I’ve overcome that I’m proud of is…
  13. A time in my life when I was most courageous was…
  14. What am I most afraid of? What holds me back?
  15. If I had no fear, what’s something I would love to try or do?
  16. What do I struggle with the most in my life?
  17. If I had all the money in the world, how would I spend my time?
  18. What would my ideal day look like, from morning until night?
  19. What is something I’ve never told anyone before? What makes me feel most vulnerable about this?
  20. What is 1 thing I absolutely know and believe to be true?
  21. What do I believe about myself that I know is true?
  22. What do I believe about myself that I know isn’t true?
  23. What is one of my greatest life lessons?
  24. What piece of advice would I share with the world if I could?
  25. 3 things I’m grateful for in my life…

Do you journal? What style of writing do you use? Share below.

by Meghan Livingstone

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5 Comments

  1. Caitlin

    This is such a detailed and helpful post! I’ve been journaling every night for a few years now and so the prompts are a great benefit to me to change things up a bit! Thanks for sharing 🙂

    Reply
    • Meghan

      So glad you found this post (and the prompts) helpful Caitlin! xx

      Reply
  2. Jenna

    LOVE this post! I have been wanting to journal for quite some time now, so I’ll definitely keep your tips in mind! love your prompts as well 🙂
    Jenna ♥
    Stay in touch? Life of an Earth Muffin

    Reply
    • Meghan

      Ahh it’s such a wonderful practice! I hope you give it a go! 🙂

      Reply
  3. Joyce

    Thank you for sharing. I finally got back to my routine of journaling. It was part of my healing process as I experienced broken friendships, change of job and more. Your prompts gave more lights and happiness into my recent entries; Thanks so much!

    Reply

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MEGHAN LIVINGSTONE, CNP

Hi, I’m Meghan. I’m a Certified Holistic Nutritionist, blogger, and YouTuber with a passion for mindful eating and intuitive living. I’m here to inspire you to listen to your body, connect with yourself, and create a fulfilling life that’s completely unique to you.

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