Journaling is a powerful tool for self-reflection, but intentional journaling takes it to a whole new level. This guide will explain what intentional journaling is, its benefits, and how to get started with your own journaling with intention process.
As a teenager, having a journal, or a diary as we more often referred to them, was common practice. Although, if you were anything like me, your diary was filled with recapping life moments and emotions, or revealing your biggest secrets.
There was no real intention behind it, other than to record life’s little moments. Although, they can be fun to look back at now and ponder just how much we have grown personally since those adolescent years.
Intentional journaling is much more beneficial!
What Is Intentional Journaling?
Intentional journaling involves setting an intention for your writing, focusing on a particular topic or goal, and using your journal to help you achieve it.
Essentially, we are using the process of journaling to bring about a positive outcome.
Sometimes this outcome can be simply the process of self-awareness and helping us reach important decisions or setting very specific goals. Other times, it can be used to help with problem-solving and managing stress or difficult emotions.
The process of journaling intentionally can be very therapeutic and healing, allowing us to be completely vulnerable and honest with ourselves while having a safe space to process our thoughts.
The Benefits Of Intentional Journaling
Intentional journaling has a range of benefits, as it helps clear your mind while also allowing you to reflect on deeper concepts that may normally remain untouched or avoided.
Studies indicate that maintaining a journal can help us in acknowledging and accepting, rather than judge, our mental experiences, leading to reduced negative emotions in reaction to stressful situations.
According to WebMD, journaling can have a positive impact on mental health by reducing stress, anxiety, and depression, improving cognitive processing, and strengthening immune function.
Regular journaling can also help individuals gain insight into their emotions, behaviours, and thought patterns – which means they have a better chance of changing those that do not serve them!
It’s a perfect tool for your self-love journey!
Here is a summary of some of the benefits of intentional journaling:
- Increased Self-Awareness: By setting an intention for your writing, you can focus on a specific topic or goal, which can help you gain deeper insights into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
- Reduced Stress and Anxiety: Journaling has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety by helping you process your emotions and gain perspective on challenging situations.
- Improved Mood: Writing down positive experiences and feelings can improve your mood and increase feelings of happiness and gratitude.
- Boosted Creativity: Journaling can help you tap into your creativity and generate new ideas. The process of writing also helps us feel that we are engaging in creative activities.
- Enhanced Problem-Solving Skills: By writing about challenges and brainstorming solutions, you can develop your problem-solving skills and gain a sense of empowerment.
- Achieving Goals: Writing down your goals has been linked to a significantly higher likelihood that you will achieve them. One part of this is the fact that it becomes better encoded into your brain, and thus improves the chances of remembering your goals.
- Maintaining Habits: Writing down your habits or using a habit tracker improves your chances of sticking with new or established habits. It helps us remember them and stay committed.
How To Start Intentional Journaling For Beginners
Getting started with journaling can feel really daunting! The most important thing to understand is that there are no rules.
Your journal should be whatever you want it to be – whether that’s a place for you to express your thoughts, reflect on the day, or dig in deep with self-reflection. And there’s a good chance that need might change day to day.
Here are some essential tips on how to get started with an intentional journal habit:
Set An Intention
Decide what you want to focus on in your journaling and what has led you to this article today, with the plan to start journaling.
Ask yourself these questions:
Why do I want to start journaling?
What do I hope to achieve from journaling?
How often do I plan to journal?
Knowing your intentions and what benefits you hope to achieve is essential before you get to the next steps.
Choose Your Journal Format
Choosing a journal format may require a little experimentation. If you like to write longhand, then a paper journal or notebook is likely the best option for you.
For someone who enjoys being able to doodle, a bullet journal might be perfect, or a journal that includes both blank and lined pages.
Here are some great options for journals:
- PAPERAGE Lined Journal
- BEECHMORE BOOKS Ruled Notebook With Vegan Leather Cover
- A5 Pink Hardcover Leather Journal
If typing or digital documenting is more your style, then maybe a journaling app is the format that you will find best for you.
If you don’t enjoy the process of journaling, it will feel like a chore and you won’t maintain your habit! This is why it’s a good idea to try a few different formats before you find the one that suits you.
When it comes to choosing a format, you also need to work out if you prefer the process of free journaling or if you are someone who prefers to have daily prompts to help guide you.
Create A Journaling Habit
Starting any new habit can be tricky, so it’s important to set yourself up for success.
Firstly, pick a time of day that works best for you and commit to journaling then every day. This could be during your morning routine, at the start of your lunch break at work or just before bed.
The key is to create a consistent habit and establish a journaling routine as part of your daily (or weekly life).
You only need to give yourself 5 to 10 minutes each day.
This is self-care you can find time for, no matter how busy your schedule might be.
Eliminate unnecessary distractions during your dedicated journal time. Leave your phone in another room. Turn off the TV or any other media distractions. Find a quiet and comfortable place.
Experiment with things that can help your creative process, such as having an essential oil diffuser on to create a calming environment, sitting outside in the sunshine or playing soft instrumental music in the background.
Set An Intention For Your Writing
Intentional journaling requires setting intentions for each writing session. This can include asking yourself questions about how you are feeling at this moment, what is on your mind or what you want to focus on.
Being aware of your current mood can influence the type of journaling you do. If you are feeling overwhelmed, you might benefit from a brain dump of everything that you need to get done or a chance to express the emotions you’re feeling.
If you’re in a productive mood, you might feel like digging into some deeper self-reflection or goal setting.
Use Journal Prompts To Help You Process
When you’re feeling unmotivated or unsure of what to write, intentional journaling prompts can be a great tool to get the words flowing.
Choose some prompts that are relevant to your current situation and emotions. This could include topics such as gratitude, confidence or self-care.
Using prompts can be a great way to get into the habit of writing more frequently or just exploring different areas of your life that you might not have thought about before also.
Types Of Intentional Journaling
There are many different types of journaling and each has its own benefits. You may like to use the same journaling technique each time you journal, or you might like to experiment with different techniques to suit how you are feeling and what your intentions are on that day.
Here are some popular intentional journaling techniques to try:
The freewriting technique is one of the most common journaling techniques where you are writing whatever thoughts come to mind, completely unfiltered. This longhand journaling process can help you to process your emotions, feelings and experiences without judgement.
Brain Dump List
A brain dump is another word often used to describe this free-writing journal technique, however, rather than sentences, this can be in a list format instead.
Often when I brain dump, I choose to do it in a list format so that I can acknowledge all the things that might be on my mind right now in a format that also allows me to cross off any that I’ve dealt with.
This is essentially a to-do list brain dump to help you get back on top of things.
The bullet journal technique is great for structuring and organising your thoughts in different formats.
Bullet journals often allow the chance to express more creativity through journaling as well, with colour, habit tracking, doodling and whatever else is needed in the moment.
Gratitude journaling is the practice of focusing on all the things that you are thankful for at that point in time. This can be a very powerful tool for feeling contentment and appreciation for the here and now.
You can also incorporate daily gratitude into your freewriting journal by adding your 3 things for the day or just one thing you are thankful for. Many people like to end their daily entries with gratitude so that they are always ending on a positive note.
Positive affirmations are another great option for adding extra positivity and a healthy mindset focus to your daily entries.
Goal Setting Journaling
Creating plans, action steps and timelines to achieve your goals is another popular form of intentional journaling.
Goal setting can include anything from career, family and relationships to travel, health and even just personal growth.
By regularly tracking progress, you are more likely to stay focused on achieving your goals while also being better able to adjust when needed.
Many successful entrepreneurs write down their biggest goals each day until they achieve them as a way of maintaining focus.
But if daily seems excessive, you can look at monthly goal setting as part of your journaling practice. This is the format I prefer, but with reference back to those goals during my free-journaling time.
Mindfulness is the practice of being present in the moment and mindful journaling is a great way to practice this.
The focus of mindfulness journaling is on how you are feeling in the present, as opposed to goal setting or tracking your past experiences. Mindfulness means assessing how you are feeling physically and emotionally.
It can also involve acknowledging the environment around you, such as the sounds, scents and sights, ensuring you are completely present in the moment.
Intentional journaling can be a powerful tool for self-reflection and personal growth. By setting an intention for your writing, focusing on a particular topic or goal, and using your journal to help you achieve it, you can gain deeper insights into your thoughts, feelings, and behaviours.
Find more resources for journaling:
- Birthday journal prompts
- January journal prompts
- February journal prompts
- March journal prompts
- April journal prompts
- May journal prompts
- June journal prompts
- July journal prompts
- August journal prompts
- September journal prompts
- October journal prompts
- November journal prompts
- December journal prompts
- Self-love journal prompts
- Intentional journal prompts
- How to journal with intention
- Nightly journal prompts