Have you been wanting to make journaling a part of your routine, but keep telling yourself “I’ll do it tomorrow” or “I need to find the cutest journal first!”?

Girl, me too!

I’ve flirted with journaling on-and-off throughout my life, but I was never a steady partner. I’d do well for a day or two and then I’d get busy or I’d get antsy when I couldn’t think of anything to write and the blank page was just staring me down. And, let’s be honest, some days I just wanted to stay on the couch reading the newest mystery thriller and drinking ginger tea.

Ya girl loves her some ginger tea.

When I started going through some chronic pain issues and really wanted to step up my personal and spiritual development game I turned back to my old friend, journaling. Despite my lack of attention, she’s always got my back. So I finally started that journaling practice and I haven’t looked back since…unless you count reflective journaling, that is!

I want you to experience all the positive benefits of journaling too.

Keep reading to find out why you need to start that journaling habit right now and reap the benefits!

Start That Journaling Habit Right Now and Reap the Benefits!

I ain’t got time to deal with no scrubs when it comes to my personal development. I use my BA in psychology and cold, hard research to determine what methods I’m going to use to better myself. 

What are the benefits of journaling?

  • Improved working memory
  • Reduces symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • It can help you process self-doubt and limiting beliefs (check out my post on how to stop self-doubt with a BONUS worksheet to take you through the process!)
  • Practicing reflective journaling after learning something new can help with memory retention because it allows learners to put what they’ve learned into their own words and draw connections to other information they already know
  • Increases mindfulness
  • Decreases symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis
  • Taking the time to journal about what you are grateful for can increase positivity. Humans spend a lot of time on the lookout for negatives due to leftover survival instincts in our reptile brains. You can counteract that by training your brain to look for the positives each day!
  • Writing down goals makes you 42% more likely to achieve them
  • Journaling can help you see patterns that you might have missed otherwise
  • It can even help people with asthma have fewer attacks! The mind-body connection is real, people!

I know, right!? Journaling is ah-mazing AND it can be done for the budget-friendly price of a spiral-bound notebook and a BIC pen. I always treat myself though and get a cute journal and stylish pen. I like to elevate my rituals. It just makes them feel a bit more special, ya know?

Best of all? You can get all these benefits without making a huge time commitment. Ain’t nobody got time for that! When I first started I only journaled 5-10 minutes each night and within a week I could tell a significant difference in my mindfulness and anxiety. Talk about that return on investment!

If you’re looking for just one tool to add to your personal-development arsenal choose journaling.

What different journaling methods can you use to start that journaling habit right now?

There’s a myriad of different ways you can journal! Try out the options below and if one way doesn’t feel right then scrap it and move onto the next. 

Prompt-based Journaling

Prompt-based journaling is pretty self-explanatory. You get a prompt from a website, app, or prompt journal and you journal based on that prompt.

Example Prompts:
  • Write a letter from your older self giving advice to your younger self
  • I really wish others knew this about me….
  • Make a list of what you want to do more of and a list of what you want to do less of
  • For more journaling prompts check out my post here or join my 7-day journaling email series to bring you greater clarity on what you want in life and what steps you need to take to get there! You’ll get an enlightening prompt each day for 7 days!
  • I’m a huge fan of the app Divethru which combines both meditation and journaling prompts.

Reflective Journaling

Reflective journaling can be used when you want to analyze something, increase memorization and understand of material, or track your growth in a certain area.

I did reflective journaling when I was studying to take my project management certification test. I would reach a chapter and then summarize in my own words what I just learned. Bonus points if you tie it to information you already understand.

I also practice reflective journaling when I do my quarterly check-in with myself to see how I feel about where I’m at on goals I was trying to achieve and areas I was trying to develop. 

Another example of reflective journaling is gratitude journaling. This is when you pick out a handful of things that you are grateful for. As I said above, humans are designed to look for the negative so actively shifting your mindset to the bright side of life can really help you retrain your brain to think more positively. 

I guess I finally have to admit all those journals that my teachers made me keep on what I learned were actually good for me. I stand corrected!  I still haven’t used the quadratic formula though, Mrs. Mueller!


Free-writing is similar to Julia Cameron’s Morning Pages, except it doesn’t need to be done first thing in the morning. You can set a timer for 10 minutes, stop once you’ve hit 3 pages, or write until your heart’s content and your hand is about to fall off (me!). The point here is just to write whatever pops into your head and not censor yourself. 

Try not to edit! You aren’t trying to be the next Margaret Atwood here or to even make sense. It should just be a stream of consciousness from your brain to the pages. I know it can be hard for us Type As, but let it be messy!

Free-writing is one of my favorite journaling methods because I have a pretty loud & sassy inner critic and sometimes I find it hard to create with her yapping away. It helps get me out of my own head and focused on the art of creating for creating sake.

Hybrid Journaling

A lot of people love to both write and draw in their journals. Drawing is another great way to express yourself and it’s YOUR journal. Do what you want in it!

Sometimes you can only truly show your feelings through a masterpiece doodle.

Guidance/Spiritual Journaling

I love my journaling with a side of woo-woo, but you can skip this section if that ain’t your thang.

Guidance or spiritual journaling is when you journal to God/Buddha/Universe/Lifeforce/Whatever higher power you believe in. You can lay your worries down on them, pray, or ask them questions and journal out the answers that are channeled through you.

When I’m trying to make a tough decision I often journal to the universe or my higher-self to try and get some answers. It helps take my mind out of my worries about making the right decisions and puts me in a clearer place where I can give more thoughtful and wiser answers to myself.


This technique comes from the Law of Attraction.

You’re journaling as if you’re already a wealthy entrepreneur or have that dream home you desire. You want to be very clear about what you want and how it feels to have that.

Example: I am so grateful for my office. Every day when I go into it to work I feel so focused. I love how everything has its own place and the colorful art on the walls is so energizing. The glass desk and white computer equipment are so modern. I just feel so successful!

One-Line Journaling

You just write one line each day!

I would say anyone can do it, but I’d be lying. I can’t do this. I loooooove words and one line is just never enough. Call me Pringles because once I pop I just can’t stop!

Core Value Journaling

A lot of people actively choose the core values they want to live by. It’s the filter with which they put all their decisions through.

I use this method of journaling a lot in my own personal development plans and those I help create for others because it can help you actively see whether you’re walking the talk when it comes to your core values. A little accountability goes a long way.

It also primes your mind to start noticing chances you have to live your core values while you’re in the midst of making a decision!

Action Plan: 

Pick one of the above methods and give it a try for a few days. If that way doesn’t call to you try another until you find one that suits your needs. 

I hope this helps you to start that journaling habit you’ve been putting off so you can start reaping the benefits! I can’t recommend journaling enough if you are looking to increase your mindfulness and connection to self.

What are you waiting for? Go to Target and get that cute journal, girl! You know you want to.

Did you start that journaling habit and you’re loving it? Have a journaling method that needs to be added? I want to hear all about it below!


Jen O’Neill is the founder of BuddhaBelly, mindset coach, and wellness expert extraordinaire. The only thing that gets her more jazzed than front row tickets to Hamilton is taking women from overwhelmed to overjoyed. Want to have your very own aha moment where everything clicks into place? Follow Jen at BuddaBelly here.