Put Yourself First By Journaling

Author - Cathy Diaz
Published - February 7, 2024

The emails keep coming. Work isn’t done. The laundry has piled up, and its takeout or eating week old leftovers—again. If you have kids, good luck walking on a piece of floor bare from brightly colored plastic. If you don’t have kids, you still don’t have the energy to pick a show to stream.

Welcome to the world of perpetual busyness and eternal dissatisfaction.

Where is the cup that people mention refilling? Refilling with what?

Photo by Estúdio Bloom / Unsplash


When the to-do list is never-ending, it's tough to accept that in order to feel like ourselves, energized with a positive mindset, that we have to stop. And rest.

You know, do something for yourself. 


Let’s have a real-talk about how journaling helps with all of that.


Why Journaling Helps Refuel You

Journaling is self-care that can improve your mental, physical, and emotional health. Even your sleep improves! When our minds become cluttered and overwhelmed, it’s hard to make sense of what’s important day-to-day. 

Depending on the method you choose, journaling can help parse out your most important tasks and also prioritize time with your loved ones. You may make a checklist; writing time with your loved ones and time for yourself mentally cues the importance just as you cueing your brain to go to the grocery store.

Photo by goxy bgd / Unsplash

Did you know that journaling improves your cognitive function? A review study in 2018 published by Preventative Medicine proved that your brain just plain works better when you’re journaling. Your ability to problem solve, critically think, and how to respond when your in-laws want to come over every weekend for the next six months is much more on point. (1)


Gratitude journaling gets trotted out as one of the many suggested mood-lifting remedies. But there’s a good reason for that. It works. Focusing our brain on positive aspects of our lives trains are brain to keep thinking in a positive pathway. Our brains are wired to think a certain way, but the awesome part is that our brains are trainable! If you're prone to negative thinking, you can literally retrain your brain to think more positively.


So…if journaling is all about taking care of myself and thinking through my goals, my day, my wants and needs, isn’t that selfish?


Why Self- Love isn’t Selfish

No. Let’s do some word association. Journaling is self-care. But self-care is also self-love. However, self-love ≠ selfish.

Self-love is about positive growth. It’s about healthy love, healthy boundaries. The focus is on your growth as an individual and within the greater whole that you exist. The focus is not on taking from others, but on fostering meaningful relationships with others as well as yourself. 


A wonderful by-product of journaling? You can see negative patterns and experiences in real-time and reflect on your path forward. This is called reflective journaling.

Downstream Effects

Let’s list some benefits a person can expect to get from journaling, self-love, and self-care:

  • Boosts resilience
    Fuels your ability to show compassion and empathy
    Helps you maintain focus
    Keeps you motivated
    Encourages healthy boundaries
    Feeds healthy relationships
    Allows you to be kind to yourself
    Teaches mindfulness in a world of mindlessness
    Reduces stress and improves your sleep
    Pinpoints important goals for productivity gains
    You can visualize your accomplishments


And the list goes on.

Practical Techniques to Get You Started


Focus on one thing that will help you put yourself first. Then extrapolate from there the hurdle you need to overcome. Here are the five most common problems in self-care I hear about:


I don’t give myself time

Planner Journal

I don’t appreciate my time spent

Gratitude Journal

I don’t feel like I’m truly accomplishing my goals

Productivity Journal

I don’t feel like I’m taking care of my body

Health-Tracker Journal

I don’t love myself the way I want to

Positive Affirmations Journal


Now what?

So now I’m supposed to stop my mental never-ending to-do list and…journal? 

Yes. Stop, rest, and journal for yourself. 


Blogger Bio:  Cathy Diaz has a blog called Why We Journal. She’s been journaling since her tweens, and now blogs about how awesome journaling is, with a side of science and sarcasm to back-up some of her inflated opinions. She has a debut guided journal, ‘Reframe the Sabotage: A Transformation Journal’ that won her husband’s annual “Twenty Dollar Words” award. To learn more on this inside joke, head over to Why We Journal.



Tudor-Locke, C., & Schuna-Gelston, E. (2018). Physical activity and mental health: A systematic review of population-level interventions. Preventive Medicine, 115, 20-28.

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