Why do people journal? The reasons are endless and usually very personal.
Every night my grandmother used to write one or two sentences about what she did that day in her pocket calendar. Then, she’d pull out her calendar from the previous year to see what she did that same day a year ago. At the time I didn’t think of it as a journaling, but now I see that it was. And the reason she did this so consistently for decades was simply because it brought her joy.
Your reasons for journaling will likely change over time as your practice evolves, but understanding the why behind your journaling can help you maintain a consistent routine.
25 Reasons to Journal
Journaling is personal. Everyone seems to have a unique reason for transcribing their thoughts onto paper. Maybe it just feels good to get it all out. Or maybe you’ve discovered journaling is an effective tool to help you move through challenging moments.
As you consider your own personal reasons, here are 25 reasons to journal:
1. Relieve Stress
Stress is a normal part of life, but it’s important to have a healthy outlet for it. When facing stressful situations, some people find it helpful to journal about the source of their stress. Others find that making a to-do list of everything that needs to happen next provides a sense of structure and makes problems feel less intense.
2. Unclutter Your Mind
Mind clutter makes it difficult to complete even the simplest tasks. Journaling can help you transfer the thoughts in your head onto the pages of your journal, where you can see them more clearly.
Grieving can be messy and unpredictable. The blank pages of your journal provide judgement-free space to experience the full range of your emotions. These emotions can often feel uncomfortable, but they are an important part of the healing process, helping you grow and move forward.
4. Celebrate Milestones
Life is busy, and it’s easy to gloss over your accomplishments and turn your attention to the next goal on your list. Using your journal to celebrate important milestones and achievements helps you learn to take time to acknowledge your successes.
5. Make a Decision
There’s no decision too big or too small for your journal. When you can’t seem to make up your mind, weighing the pros and cons of your options may make it easier to choose the best way forward.
6. Change Your Mindset
Whether it’s the negative stories you tell yourself or the unpleasant memories that keep replaying in your head, getting stuck in a mind rut can steal your joy. Journaling can help you shift your mindset by refocusing your attention.
7. Gain Self-Confidence
Most people struggle with self-confidence from time to time. Writing exercises that focus on your strengths, accomplishments, and unique skills can help you build self-confidence and self-esteem.
8. Improve Your Health
Using your journal to record your lifestyle habits can show you how your daily choices are impacting your health. To get started, focus on a single area of your life—eating, exercising, sleeping, etc.—and explore how your daily routine is impacting your life as a whole.
9. Spark Creativity
Bring your wild ideas to life on the pages of your journal with a variety of techniques to allow your creativity to flow. Doodling, sketching, and coloring are easy ways to explore your creative inner world.
10. Clear Negative Energy
To clear negative energy, use your journal to vent or release uncomfortable emotions. Getting your complaints out onto paper can help clear out space for solutions and positive energy.
11. Shift Your Mood
Regardless of the trigger, whenever you sense a change in your mood turn to your journal for help. Refocus your thoughts by writing about what’s going well in your life and reframe your experiences as opportunities to learn.
12. Get Grounded
For many people, journaling is extremely grounding. Starting your day with a few simple journaling exercises can help you realign with your goals and set the tone for your entire day.
13. Gain Perspective
The world is much bigger than the problems you’re facing today, but it’s especially hard to see that when you’re upset or frustrated. Journaling can help you gain perspective by examining how your current situation fits into the bigger context of your life.
14. Release Strong Emotions
Emotions can often feel overwhelming or paralyzing. Within the private pages of your journal, there’s no risk of offending or hurting anyone’s feelings, so you don’t have to hold anything back.
15. Increase Self-Awareness
Self-awareness is a necessary ingredient for personal growth. Being aware of your impact on others and the world around you can help you build emotional intelligence.
16. Identify Patterns
A consistent journaling practice makes it easier to identify the repeating patterns in your life. These patterns of behavior can either enrich or detract from the overall quality of your life. Seeing your patterns more clearly in your journal can help you identify areas of your life that need an adjustment.
17. Connect with Source
Journaling isn’t always a spiritual experience, but it certainly can. Many people use their journal to connect with source through devotionals or prayers.
18. Manage Anxiety
Expressive writing is one way to help manage anxiety. Journaling allows you to see what’s within your control and what’s beyond it, which can help you focus your efforts on what you can change, while accepting what you cannot.
19. Solve Problems
All problems have solutions, but it may take time to find them. Journaling can help you come up with a list of creative solutions so you can zero in on the right one.
20. Explore Possibilities
Your journal offers a safe space to explore your outlandish and far-fetched ideas that might not seem realistic, making it the perfect place to answer questions like What if? and How could I?
21. Express Gratitude
Gratitude changes everything. Expressing gratitude regularly is one of the simplest forms of journaling, and it can brighten your mood in minutes.
22. Maintain Motivation
Motivation is a catalyst for success. Without it, it’s unlikely that you’ll invest the resources necessary to achieve your goals. Journaling can help you uncover your source of motivation—the why behind your goals.
23. Focus Your Energy
At times it can feel like you’re pulled in many different directions, and it’s hard to know where to focus your efforts. Journaling can help you focus your energy on what’s most important in that moment or season of your life.
24. Align with Your Goals
Writing your goals down on paper can be incredibly powerful. Whether you do this annually, quarterly, monthly, or even weekly, staying connected to your goals will help you stay accountable.
25. Record Memories
Use your journal to record the memorable moments you experience in the course of your daily life. And don’t forget to revisit and relish those memories regularly.
There are many reasons you might choose to begin or maintain a journaling practice, and we’ve only covered a few here. If you don’t feel connected to any of the reasons above, it may be a great topic to explore during your next journaling session.
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Information contained in this article is for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as providing or replacing medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Author bio: STACY FISHER, RDN, LD, CDCES is the founder of LivingUpp, a lifestyle design company that teaches women how to use a self-care planning system to create more ease and better health.
She is a registered dietitian and lifestyle coach with 20+ years of experience in the healthcare industry, where she’s worked with large companies such as Dell, Boeing, and Nike. Stacy is the author of The Lifestyle Design Planner, a flexible life organizer for high-achievers who value self-care and simplicity.