A Guide to Daily Journaling

To many people, journaling is a cathartic way to decompress. To others, it’s a one-week attempt and a waste of time. If you’re in either category, you may find that journaling has many hidden benefits you’re not aware of.  

I’ve been “journaling” for about three years now. I say that with quotation marks because I don’t write a full out journal entry every night before I sleep or have a colorful, organized bullet journal sitting on my desk. Instead, I go about a simple five-minute procedure each night to record my day. Each night, I take my journal, write the date, and enter some good and some bad things that happened to me that day. 

Journaling allows me not to have to write a full-fledged journal entry each night when I’m super tired but instead makes sure I remember significant events that happened to me. By writing something good and bad, this forces me to think about the positive and negative aspects of life and not focus too heavily on one or the other. While some days may have more events under the “bad” category, I am forced to look at the good parts of my day as well. This gives way to give a more balanced view of my day, and maybe even my life. Rather than viewing a day as only terrible or only fantastic, I find it necessary to note all things that happen—even the things that maybe aren’t the best to remember.

Of course, if you plan to journal or already journal this is optional. You could write one thing that happens to you a day or twenty. You could write just the positive or the negative, or just some in-betweens. That’s the best part of journaling: you can’t do it wrong! It’s your journal, and no one has to see it or grade it, it’s just for you. But, if you’re struggling to figure out how to start, maybe look around on the internet for ideas or start simple, with one good thing a day and one bad thing a day. You could also add your own categories like people who made you happy that day, things you’re thankful for, things you’re worried about, and so on. It’s your journal—write down what you want to!

While daily journaling is enjoyable, it may also be fun to keep a more extended journal, for those of you who want a more elaborate version of your day documented. This is something I do less frequently, often only every few months. Nonetheless, these entries can be very cathartic and enjoyable. By writing everything down, you can decompress. I find that often writing what I want to say to people in a journal is an excellent way to let out emotions without starting a fight, or even just a good way to remember happy events. Either way, by writing things down you are getting a chance to understand yourself better. Physically writing can help you make sense of all that is going on in your head.

Journaling is also the perfect way to remember. Whether you’re journaling daily or not, write down important events and experiences, and your emotions during them are a great way to remember what it was like to be the age you are now. The odds are that if you’ve ever read a journal entry from your fifth-grade diary, you’ve laughed or cringed at all the weird things you wrote. While these things are of course hilarious, they often help you remember what it felt like to be going through all that you were at that time. By journaling daily, you’re giving tons of information to your future self (as long as you don’t lose the journal!)

Journaling daily or every once in a while is a good and positive way to understand yourself, reflect on your day/life, and document your experiences and emotions. All you need is 5 minutes, a journal, and a pen to start to reap the benefits. So, what are you waiting for? Go pick up that pen!