How to Journal Daily for Better Mental Health - a little dose of happy -

How to Journal Daily for Better Mental Health

Do you ever feel overwhelmed or drained?

Does it seem like modern life has taken its toll on your mental health and well-being?

If so, then journaling might be exactly what you need!

Journaling is the perfect way to take some time for yourself each day to reconnect with yourself mentally. Journaling provides a great outlet for all your thoughts and feelings and boosts your overall mood and mental health.

Keep reading below to learn simple tips and tricks on how to journal daily to improve your happiness!

Benefits of Journaling

Before diving into how to journal, let’s talk about the most significant benefits of journaling:

Journaling Helps Us Process Our Thoughts and Feelings

woman looking up with her head resting on her left hand, lost in thought

Journaling provides an outlet for expression. It allows us to explore our inner world without judgment or fear of being judged by others. This enables us to gain insight into ourselves which we may not be able to access through verbal communication alone.

Writing down our worries can relieve anxious thoughts as it takes them out of our heads and onto paper, where they no longer seem as overwhelming or unmanageable. Similarly, writing down our emotions can help us identify and understand patterns in our thoughts and behavior.

Journaling Leads to Personal Growth and Development

Journaling encourages reflection, leading to greater self-awareness over time, which is essential for personal growth and development. By reflecting on how we feel about different aspects of life, such as our relationships or work situations, we gain valuable insights into ourselves, enabling us to make better choices in the future.

In addition, journaling can help us track our progress and successes. This is especially helpful when we’re working towards a personal goal or trying to establish a new habit.

Journaling Boosts Our Mood and Increases Happiness

Research has shown that journaling can positively affect mood, reduce stress and anxiety, and increase self-esteem. The act of journaling is often therapeutic in itself, as it gives us time to relax and be mindful of the present moment.

woman journaling outside by a tree

Journaling can also increase our sense of gratitude and overall happiness when we take the time to reflect on the good things in life. By regularly writing down the things we are grateful for, we can remind ourselves of our blessings and begin to appreciate each moment more.

How to Journal Daily for Better Mental Health

Now that you understand the benefits of journaling let’s dive into how to do it!

The great thing about journaling is that there is no right or wrong way to do it; all that matters is that it works for you and your unique needs.

Things to Consider Before You Start

If you’re serious about starting a journaling habit, first take time to consider the following:

The Journal

Find a journal that resonates with you. Whether it’s a notebook, an online journal, an app on your phone (such as the Do Happy App), or something else entirely, make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy writing in every day.

Do Happy Daily Happier Habits app screens showcasing the Do Happy Journal


Determine how often you will write in your journal. Daily journaling is the most beneficial, but is that doable for you right now? Weekly or bi-weekly may be a better option. Remember, consistency is key when it comes to journaling, especially when you’re first starting, so try to find a frequency that you can stick with.

Time of Day

Set aside a regular time of day when you will write without interruption or distraction from other activities. This could be first thing in the morning or last thing at night; whatever works best for you. Make sure this time is kept sacred for your thoughts to flow freely onto the page.


woman journaling outside

Create an atmosphere that makes you look forward to your journaling routine. Find an area in your home or office where you feel relaxed and inspired to write – somewhere free from distractions like TV screens and phones ringing off the hook. A cozy corner of your bedroom or living room, or perhaps a quiet spot in your backyard – wherever makes you feel calm and creative.

Your Commitment

If you decide you’re going to journal, make sure to stick to it. Even if you don’t feel like writing, your commitment to yourself will help you stay on track.

If you’re going to be away from home for a while, take your journal (or a travel version) with you and make sure to write in it at least a few times each week. Any downtime in a quiet space is a great opportunity for a quick journaling session.

With consistency and dedication, journaling will quickly become part of your daily routine.

Start Writing!

Now it’s time to start writing.

You can start with a few sentences that capture how you’re feeling in the moment and then expand from there. You can write about your victories, your goals, or any interesting ideas that come to mind while you journal.

Try to write without worrying too much about grammar or spelling; the goal is to get your thoughts out of your head and onto the page.

And don’t forget to re-read what you’ve written in your journal, either during the same writing session or a few days later. Reflecting on your thoughts and emotions can help you gain clarity and perspective, allowing you to make more informed decisions.

Journaling Prompts

If you’re not sure what to write about, using journal prompts can help. They provide structure and guidance, allowing you to focus on writing without getting overwhelmed or stuck in writer’s block.

woman writing her thoughts in response to journal prompts

Here are some ideas:

Reflect on Your Day

Writing about what happened during the day is an easy place to start. Describe what happened during your day, both good and bad. Think about the people you encountered and any events that significantly impacted your day. Write down your thoughts and feelings, how you responded to situations, and what you learned.

Set Goals and Make Plans

Writing down goals helps make them tangible and more likely to happen. Brainstorm short-term and long-term goals you have for yourself, such as learning a new skill or taking up a hobby. Then create actionable steps towards achieving those goals by breaking them down into smaller tasks. Document any struggles and lessons learned along the way, and celebrate your progress.

Express Gratitude

Try gratitude journaling to recognize and appreciate the good things in life. This will help shift your focus from negative thoughts and feelings towards being thankful for all of life’s blessings.

gratitude journal that prompts, "Today, I'm thankful for:"

You can incorporate gratitude into your daily journaling practice by writing down three or more things you’re thankful for at the top of the page. This can be anything from the small joys of life, like a sunny day, to bigger accomplishments, like a promotion at work.

You can also consider keeping a separate gratitude journal, where you keep an ongoing list of things you’re grateful for that you add to every week, such as on Thankful Thursday. You can be creative with this, such as using photos or magazine cutouts and writing in bright colors.

Explore Your Emotions

Freely express your feelings and emotions without worrying about judgment or fear of criticism from others. Ask yourself questions like “What am I feeling right now? Why do I feel this way? What do I need right now?” These questions can help you gain insight into what is causing certain emotions.

This self-reflection can also help you identify unhealthy patterns and habits, such as overthinking or holding onto grudges. Writing in your journal can help you move through these emotions instead of bottling them up.

Record Memories & Milestones

Keep track of significant life events like birthdays and anniversaries, as well as those everyday moments that bring you joy. Write down what was special about each moment, who you shared it with, and how it made you feel. The details will help remind you of everything that’s meaningful to you when you review your journal.

For more ideas, check out our articles on mindfulness journal prompts and self-care journal prompts. We also created a list of 365 journal prompts, one for each day of the year!, so you’ll never run out of inspiration.

Journaling Tips

Writing in a journal can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it can also be challenging sometimes, especially when you’re first starting. Here are some tips to help you make the most out of your journaling practice:

Make It a Habit

woman writing in her journal while sitting on her bed

Set aside a specific time and place to write in your journal every day. This will help it become a habit, making it easier to stick with. Writing before bed or first thing in the morning are great times, as it sets the tone for your day and allows you to reflect on it afterward.

Write In Short Bursts

Writing doesn’t have to take hours at a time. Try writing for just five minutes each day – this is often enough time to capture meaningful moments without feeling overwhelmed by the task ahead of you.

Be Positive

When describing yourself or others, use positive language that encourages growth instead of focusing on mistakes or flaws. This will help create an atmosphere of acceptance and understanding when reflecting on complex topics like relationships or personal goals.

Choose Your Words Carefully

Use words that evoke emotion, such as “love” or “joy,” rather than simply stating facts about what happened during the day (e.g., “I went shopping today”). This will make your entries more interesting and engaging for future reflection.

Set Goals and Celebrate Achievements

Set realistic goals when starting out with journaling so you don’t become discouraged quickly. Celebrate your small wins along the way, such as writing every day for one week straight!

Try Different Journaling Techniques

a beautiful journal showcasing a calendar for the month of September

If you find yourself getting bored with writing, try mixing it up with different techniques such as drawing, creating lists, or using a voice recorder. Switch up the format of your daily journal to help keep it fresh and exciting. Journal writing doesn’t have to be in sentences or even words. It can be poetry, song lyrics, or even sketches.

Overcoming Challenges

It’s natural to encounter roadblocks when journaling. Try not to get discouraged! Here are some common obstacles you may face and how to overcome them:

Writer’s Block

Knowing what to write about or where to begin can be difficult, so try writing down whatever comes into your head. You don’t have to write in paragraphs or even sentences. Simply jotting down a few words can be enough to get the ball rolling.

If that doesn’t work, try using writing prompts such as “What made me happy today?” or “What did I learn today?” or any of the prompts we provided above. These ideas will help jumpstart the creative process and get the words flowing again.

Feeling Overwhelmed by Negative Thoughts

Journaling is a great way to process emotions, but sometimes negative thoughts can take over if we let them. When this happens, focus on reframing those thoughts more positively.

For example, instead of thinking, “I failed at my project,” think, “This was an opportunity for me to learn something new.” Reframing your thoughts this way can help you look at experiences from a different perspective and keep negative feelings in check.

Fear of Judgment

We all worry about being judged for our thoughts and feelings from time to time – especially when putting them out there on paper. Remember that no one has access to your journal unless you choose otherwise. Your journal is private, so don’t be afraid to be honest with yourself and express how you truly feel without fear of judgment from others.

Freely write down your thoughts and then rip up the paper if you feel the need to. The act of ripping up the paper can be strangely satisfying and help provide closure to a situation.

person cutting a sheet of paper with words of things they want to get rid of, such as hatred, indifference, and envy

Lack of Motivation

Sometimes it’s hard finding the motivation needed for a regular journaling practice, especially if you’re feeling low energy or unmotivated overall. To combat this issue, set small daily goals like writing a page before bedtime or taking five minutes each morning to write before breakfast. Breaking tasks into smaller chunks makes them seem less daunting and helps keep the momentum going.

Finding Time

Finding enough time in our busy lives for self-care activities like journaling can be tricky. Try setting aside specific times dedicated solely to journaling. Whether it’s first thing in the morning or right before bedtime, dedicate that time to journaling so that it becomes part of your daily routine rather than an afterthought squeezed between other commitments.

Making It Stick

One of the biggest challenges when it comes to journaling is making it stick. It’s easy to start a journal, but much harder to keep up with it over time. Here are some tips for making your journaling habit last:

Set Reminders

Setting reminders on your phone or calendar can help you stay consistent with writing in your journal. Try setting an alarm each day at the same time so that you remember when it’s time to write in your journal.

Use an Accountability Calendar

If you find yourself falling off track with your journaling habit, try using an accountability calendar to keep yourself on track. Every day you write in your journal, mark it off on the calendar. This can be a great way to motivate yourself and see tangible progress over time.

Some apps, like the Do Happy App, automate this process. Every day you journal about the elements of happiness that made you happy, you receive a smiley on your calendar. You’ll find it very motivating to keep up your streak of smileys!

Do Happy Daily Happier Habits app screen of the app's accountability calendar with a streak of smileys (representing that the user has been journaling every day)

Find a Journaling Partner

If you want to stay consistent with your journaling, find a journaling partner. Ask a friend, family member, or colleague to join the habit with you. You can write together or share your entries to keep each other accountable.

Reward Yourself

person journaling while enjoying a beautiful latte outside

Rewarding yourself after completing each entry can also help you keep up with your journaling habit. This could be as simple as taking a few minutes to relax and do something enjoyable after writing in your journal or treating yourself to something special once you reach a certain milestone (like reaching your 100th daily journal entry).

Find Your Why

Knowing why you want to keep up with this habit is important, too – what do you hope journaling will do for you? Write down these reasons and reflect on them whenever your motivation starts slipping away.

Review and Reminisce

Lastly, take some time to review your entries from time to time and reminisce about the moments that you’ve captured. This can be a great way to stay connected with your past and appreciate the growth that you’ve gone through. Knowing that you have your memories written down and readily available for review may also give you an extra push to keep going.

woman smiling as she reads her journal

Final Thoughts

Journaling is a powerful practice that can help you process and explore your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. It is one of the most effective ways to self-reflect and gain insight into your life.

A regular journaling practice can help you cultivate mindfulness, build emotional intelligence, and gain clarity about yourself and your goals. These benefits outweigh the potential challenges with daily journaling, so try not to get discouraged! Instead, make a commitment to yourself to keep going with your journaling practice and read over our tips above to overcome the challenges.

The fact that you read through this article shows that you are serious about giving journaling a try. So, here is our ultimate tip: just start writing!

There is no right or wrong way to journal, and your daily journaling habit will evolve over time. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different methods, techniques, and topics – the possibilities are endless!

The journaling process is an individual experience; the best way to figure it out is by exploring different approaches until you find what works for you. The sooner you get started, the sooner you will reap all the amazing benefits of journaling, so get started today!

The a little dose of happy blog is full of resources and tips to help you become a happier you. If it helps, read over an article of interest to you and then write in your journal about what you read, how it made you feel, and how you can apply it in your life. You never know what gems of insight you might reveal!

Happy Journaling!

Sharing is caring!