Fifteen Journaling Ideas: Postpone Worry, Plan Joy, and More.

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From postponing worry to revisiting joy, from redesigning a room to keeping collections, journaling offers many ways to soothe, plan, and dream.

Journaling is an important part of mental health for many. But whether you are a beginner or experienced, it’s easy to stare at a blank page and wonder where the inspiration is. Even pros run out of ideas or forget good habits. So I’ve made a list of 15 things to journal in your planner, bullet journal, or journal planner.

Whatever your level, here are some ideas to inspire.

  • Make a list of the top ten self-soothing activities you enjoy doing when you’re down, anxious, upset, or depressed. Index them so you can flip quickly to this journaling page when you’re in need of something calming or soothing. Here are a few ideas:
    • Turning on a favorite audible book, making a cup of tea, and doing a puzzle
    • Watercoloring by yourself or with family members. Either freestyle or pick a tutorial at your level.
    • Laying in bed and reading a book on paperwhite or paper until you fall asleep
    • Drawing a hot bath with or without epsom salt and lavender and soak.
    • Doing a light ten minutes of yoga.
    • Journaling happy memories.
    • Researching a favorite topic you’ve been curious about.
    • Dreaming a little: play with home-building software, do a style quiz, make a mind-map of what you want your future to look like.
    • Turning off your phone for one hour.
    • Window shopping in a small town.
    • Buying something small for yourself.
    • Going on a walk.
    • Organizing one drawer or small space.
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  • Release your worries on paper through journaling! You can’t turn off worry. Instead, make a list of everything bugging you right now and identify one small positive action that doesn’t overwhelm you related to your worries. Write it as the top priority for the day or week unless you can tackle it immediately. Resolve to postpone worrying about anything else until tomorrow. Then give yourself the gift of a worry-free day. Your journal entry will still be there to remind you of the worries tomorrow.
  • Journal 1, 3, or 5 happy memories. Recall them in as much detail as you can. Journal about the way you felt. What were the colors, sights, smells, sounds, and feelings? Bonus: if it sounds fun and accessible, try to identify why you felt the way you did. What do you think it is about this memory that stuck with you through the years that so positive?
  • Look at the journal entries for #3. Is there any part of them you can recreate now in your adult life? We often forget how to experience joy after we grow up. #3 is about remembering this joy and #4 is about re-experiencing it.
  • Make a list of your 10 favorite books or movies. Get as detailed or not as you want. Get as artistic or minimalist as you desire.
  • Journal your top 5 favorite restaurants or cuisines. It can help our relationship with food improve to be positive and intentional about eating fulfilling food that we enjoy, and journaling can be a great place to start.
  • Journal your favorite way to spend a day. Where would you eat? Would you be at home or away? Would you go antique shopping, get a makemover, shop with an asisstant? Would you read all day with coffee? Would you just nap? What is the perfect day for you?
  • List 5 things you’d love to accomplish with your life. The really big things, the things when you come to the end of your life that you’ll be glad you did.
  • If your cooking challenged, make a really simple meal plan for one meal or a short lists of healthy snacks. Even “apples and peanut butter” counts. If on the other hand, you love to cook, make your dream dish meal plan! Again, be as artistic or minimalist with your entries as you want.
  • List your favorite treat yourself small gifts under $10. Candles, nail polish, pens, washi tape, lotion or lip balm or mugs or any other indulgence that’s easily affordable for your budget.
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  • List 10 things positive things about yourself. These can be accomplishments (like how many books you read) or character traits (like a loving spouse or nourishing parent). Or maybe you’re good at certain things (like style or cooking or forgiveness or making friends).
  • Design a dream room. Re-envision one space in your home and use instagram, pinterest, or a home site to replan how it will be organized or decorated. Dreaming is good for your soul. Then turn to your journal to make a list of things you need, sketch the new layout, or plan out the steps.
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Journal inspiration by nine-year-old Kaitlyn Kauffman.
  • Find 10-15 positive affirmations and list them (ideas here). Then, pick your favorite and write it every day for a week in your daily spread.
  • Make a gratitude list. List 10 things in your current life that you are grateful for. Even memories count, but so do favorite teacups, books you’re reading, loved ones, or opportunities. In short, anything that brings you happiness.
  • Make a ta-da list. Lists can be empowering and overwhelming at the same time. If you’re in a mental health down, make a list of everything you’ve accomplished in the past day, week, or month. It’s so normal to sabotage our joy by moving quickly from one task to another without pausing to reflect on what it took to finish the task and the sense of joy or accomplishment it brings us. For example, until I sat down to write, “I just wrote a blog post for Owl Paper!” in my planner journal, I was completely out of touch with the accomplishment. I totally forgot how long I’ve been meaning to take the notes that started in my journal in therapy and transfer them to the screen, and now I’ve done it, I’m glad. I deserve to bask in that for a few minutes before hurrying to the next thing.
  • Make a lit of things you’d like to learn to do. “The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”—Albert Einstein. When you make this list, try to tap into your inner child. Your curious, full of wonder, sky’s the limit child. If you had all the time in the world and the resources you needed, what skill or knowledge would you learn? Maybe this goes into your life mind map, and maybe you plan one small step of this dream in your daily pages.

    “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” -Henry Ford

Don’t forget to index each journal entry so you can flip to it quickly! And remember, journaling doesn’t have to be pretty or fancy to be valuable. If you’re addicted to feeling instagram-worthy, imagine while you journal a cozy journaling space or envision the thing you’re journaling about. Journaling can be therapeutic and helpful even if it’s messy, sometimes even more so! Just put pen to paper and don’t let anyone, including yourself, judge you.

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Are there any other ideas you wish would be on this list? Do any of them strike as you as something you need to go do right now? Or maybe you’ve tried one and would like to share the results! I’d love to hear from you.

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