Why you should keep a self-care journal

A self-care journal can be a great boost to your wellness routine. Here's how to start

woman journaling, self-care journal
(Image credit: Getty)

If you're seeking greater self-awareness to help you improve every aspect of your life, a self-care journal is one of the best tools you can choose.

There are many products and practices that can help you with your day-to-day—you can search for the best supplements to give you more energy, the best sleep aid to help you get sufficient rest and the perfect workout schedule to help you get in shape. And while tools like these are extremely valuable, it's also good to have something that covers your entire life, like a journal. 

According to life coach Jen Williamson: "Journal writing, when it becomes a ritual for transformation, is not only life-changing but life-expanding." Let's look at how you can get the maximum benefits from this incredible self-development tool. 

What is a self-care journal? 

A journal can include your reflections on anything, from work to workouts to dreams. A self-care journal, meanwhile, is more specific. It's any journal that's dedicated specifically to issues revolving around your well-being, which may include physical, emotional and spiritual health. As such, it can be a valuable way to make improvements in those areas. 

Tips to Get the Most Out of Your Self-Care Journal 

Firstly, there's no one right way to create a journal. You have many choices, such as buying a blank journal online or from a bookstore, writing in a traditional notebook, or typing your entries in a file on your phone or laptop. You can even speak into an audio app if you prefer. 

Many people, however, find that writing by hand makes it easier to get in touch with their feelings. It's a matter of personal preference, though. You can experiment and find the method you prefer. (Check out our "journaling for beginners" guide for even more general tips.)

Here are some guidelines to make your self-care journal an effective wellness tool. 

1. Don't Edit Yourself

Unlike other types of writing, your journal is just for you. It's not to impress, entertain or educate a reader. The more honest and spontaneous you are, the more value you'll get from it. The objective isn't to have perfect grammar or literary flourishes but to record and understand your state of mind at any given time. 

2. Focus on Important Areas of Your Life

As noted, it's great to jot down your feelings. However, you can also use your journal to keep track of certain areas of your life that impact your wellness, such as: 

  • Sleeping —How long and how well you slept and what factors may have influenced your sleep.
  • Diet — What you ate and how it made you feel.
  • Physical activity — Exercise, walking, working, places you went, etc.
  • Relationships — How you feel about the interactions you're having with important people in your life.
  • Productivity — Your progress on work or creative projects.

Your self-care journal doesn't have to look the same every day. It's natural for your feelings, ideas and goals to change over time. Use your journal to reflect on what's going on in your mind and life today.

Woman sitting on a meadow writing down something in her notebook, partial view

(Image credit: Getty)

3. Write Down Goals and Affirmations

One use of a journal is to write down what's happening and how you're feeling. Another is to write down what you want to accomplish. You can list short and long-term goals. You can also repeat affirmations on how you want to feel and what you want to achieve. You can be as specific or general as you want. For example, if one of your goals is to manifest a new home, you can describe your ideal home in as much detail as you can come up with. 

4. Express Gratitude

Gratitude is a powerful force that helps you appreciate everything in your life, including the small things. This isn't just a spiritual or new age principle; it's backed by science. Harvard Medical School reports studies that show expressing gratitude increases happiness. A self-care journal is a perfect place to note daily reasons to feel grateful. 

5. Make Journaling Part of Your Daily Ritual

You can make entries in your journal whenever the mood strikes you. It's also helpful, though, to have dedicated time daily when you write in your journal. This may be when you first get up, right before bed or at any convenient time. If you only write in your journal when you feel like it, you may end up forgetting about it. Making it a routine helps you stay consistent. 

A Self-Care Journal Can Transform Your Life 

Don't underestimate the value of journaling. It's a powerful practice that helps you connect your conscious and subconscious thoughts and feelings. You don't have to master the "perfect" technique for journaling. What matters is that you find a method that works for you. If you get into the habit of journaling, you'll find that it brings you greater self-awareness and well-being. The more attention you give to your self-care journal, the more benefits you'll receive from it!

Lauren is a freelance writer and editor with more than six years of digital and magazine experience. Most recently, she has been the Acting Commissioning Editor of Women's Health—where she co-produced the Going For Goal podcast—and has previously also written news and features for titles including The Telegraph, Grazia, Stylist, Dazed, The Sun's Fabulous, Yahoo Style UK and Get The Gloss. She covers all aspects of lifestyle, specializing in health, beauty, and travel. Can't live without: oat milk lattes, new podcast episodes, long walks, and great skincare.