How to Create a Journaling Habit

Along with the many benefits of journaling, I’ve previously shared my personal experience of using writing and reflecting to change my behaviour while recovering from an under-active thyroid. Although you know this simple self-care practice could make a huge difference to your mental health, you’re probably wondering how to create a journaling habit. In his book, Automic Habits author James Clear teaches us how to build new habits and how your current ones work he says the ability to create healthy habits is essential for making progress in our health,  happiness, and life in general.

Here are a few hints and tips some of which are based on the findings in Automic Habits which is a great read by the way…

Start Small

Part of the struggle with creating new habits is that we lack the motivation to add something else into our busy lives,  one way to overcome this is to make the new habit you want to create so small you don’t need any motivation to start it. For example, you could start journaling for just 5 mins a day slowly increasing it to 10 minutes each day and even with this short amount of time, you will begin to notice useful patterns and insights.

Be Prepared

If you’re not sure where to start or you find the sight of a blank page gives you writer’s block, you may benefit from a more structured approach. Based on my own experience and drawing on my professional expertise, I’ve created the CBT Journal, a step-by-step guide to self-reflection. As well as helping you become more aware of your individual patterns of thinking, feeling and doing, it also gives you the tools you need to change these patterns and improve your mental health.

Being prepared also means having everything you need in one place so it’s ready for you to start. Having your journal on your bedside where you can see it has the benefit of being a visual cue and will increase the likelihood of you opening it up.

Be Consistent

Set aside an achievable amount of time each day and create a familiar routine around your journaling practice. Whether it’s the first thing you do when you wake up or the last thing you do at night, it’s a good idea to establish a few gentle cues to keep you on track. Try setting an alarm on your phone or incorporate writing into your existing bedtime routine. Or complete a habit tracker which is a simple way to measure whether you did a habit.

The most basic format is to get a calendar and cross off each day you stick with your routine. For example, if you journal on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, each of those dates gets an X. As time rolls by, the calendar becomes a record of your habit streak.

habit tracker provides immediate evidence that you have completed your new habit and that you are making progress, it is also a visual cue, it supports your motivation and is satisfying to record so feels like a win.

Make It Enjoyable

The minute something starts to feel like a chore, we’re less likely to make it a priority. As journaling can unearth difficult feelings and emotions, it’s important to make the experience itself as enjoyable as possible. This will look different for everyone. Things like listening to your favourite music, burning a beautifully scented candle, or creating a cosy space in which to write can all make a huge difference to your motivation levels or even allowing yourself little rewards after you have spent some time journaling

Just Start!

It takes time to create a habit, but if you don’t try, you never will. Commit to journaling and just start, the words will soon begin to flow. If you miss a day, don’t beat yourself up, this won’t motivate you at all! Remember, you won’t always choose the right option. It’s part of being human. We are all a constant work in progress we have good days and bad days. focus on getting back on track if you have a few days off journaling.

The CBT Journal

The CBT Journal is a digital download that blends elements of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy with the practice of journaling to make you more aware of how you think, feel and act. This process encourages reflection and enables change, helping you cultivate the best version of yourself.

The CBT Journal

It can form part of an ongoing daily well-being routine or it can be used as a short-term four-week project to help you understand your mind and improve your mental health. You can find out more and purchase the CBT journal here.

I love hearing from you, so do get in touch and let me know how your journaling practise unfolds.

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Sarah Rees

Sarah is a fully accredited Cognitive Behavioural Therapist and mental health writer delivering Modern Mental Health for you and with you in Mind. Sarah is the author of ‘The CBT Journal’ which helps you write for your wellbeing incorporating CBT techniques. For more information and to keep in touch have a look at sarahdrees.co.uk.