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  • Ayurda Pathak

How to Start Journaling

In last week’s discussion, we went through the benefits and types of journaling. Though it may appear simple on the surface, the act of writing allows time for your brain to “cool down” and get a better grasp on your situation. Then, depending on the method of journaling you choose, you can use this energy to become more productive, mindful or simply more aware of your lifestyle. Today, we’ll talk about the types of journaling and the ways you can apply them.





Requirements for Journaling

It doesn’t take a lot to get started with journaling. The two basic requirements are a writing tool or a writing device. This can come in the form of electronics, through a virtual diary, or through a pen and paper. Once you have an outlet to express your thoughts, find a private place that helps you focus on your thoughts. Try to sit away from distractions such as your phone, TV, or family.


To establish a routine, it might be helpful to set a specific time of day where you can sit down and write. For those who are focused on productivity, this might be in the morning where you can come up with goals for the day. For those focused on mindfulness, you can reflect in your journal before you go to sleep


Types of Journaling


What you write, too, depends on the outcomes you hope to achieve. Let’s look at some of the methods of journaling and how they can be used.


Expressive Writing


The most basic and traditional form of journaling, expressive writing works as an outlet for an individual’s thoughts. It requires you to sit down and reflect on your situation, as well as how you feel about it. This can be anything from stress from your job, worries about your health, or troubles with your family.


Expressing what’s giving you anxiety can not only elevate some of your emotions, but give you a better idea on what you control and solve. If you’re having trouble on where to start, the Pandemic Project has several prompts that can be used for expressive writing. They range from COVID-19, economic struggles, and personal growth.


The Bullet Journal

With a recent boom in popularity, the bullet journal prioritizes productivity and oraganization. Created by Ryder Carroll, the unique dotted notebook allows users to easily create lists, blocks, and other areas to plan out their short-term goals.


Most writers choose to do this through the form of rapid logging, where users break down their goals into daily tasks. You can use this method to remember important events, break down projects into manageable tasks, or keep track of their habits. Through these techniques, writers can get a productive start with each day as well as a concrete method to record their progress.


Gratitude Journaling


For those searching for a more lighthearted version of writing, gratitude journaling doesn’t require a lot of effort and yet has the capacity to make significant changes in your life. Through the simple act of being aware and thankful of the pleasures of life, people can be more mindful and happy.


A good way to get started, according to UC Berkeley, is to write down five things you’re grateful for at least three times per week. These can be small (like the breakfast you ate this morning) or big (like your family or friends). If you’re having trouble coming with new things, try the art of “subtractation” - what are you grateful to avoid? What are you grateful that you don’t have to worry about anymore?



In conclusion, journaling has a range of capabilites and methods. You can be creative or follow a specific format. You can use logic to dictate your day or channel your emotions through mindfulness. Either way, it has the ability to produce lifestyle changes. Next week we’ll talk about a specific type of journaling to promote healthier habits: meal planning.


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