How to start journaling today

Journaling is an activity you can use to reflect on your thought patterns and emotions. It can give you space and a structure to record how you’re feeling and/or a way to think about things differently. Here, Kids Help Phone offers suggestions to incorporate journaling as a tool to boost your mood, process difficult emotions and notice the good in everyday life.

It’s understandable if starting with a blank page feels overwhelming. The activities here can help you get started by incorporating journaling into your daily, weekly or monthly routines. You can use a scrap piece of paper, a notebook or the notes app on a phone or computer or you can use the tool on this page. If saying things out loud works better for you, you can also use a voice memo or recording app. You can even use the voice-to-text function on your phone to fill out the journals on this page!

There are no specific rules for journaling. Journaling can mean just jotting down something you feel good about, are grateful for or that brightened your day — or you can try something more structured (check out the ideas in these activities!). These are often things you do throughout your day already without realizing it. While it may feel difficult to find things to be excited about or hopeful for at first, remember, the process can take time.

What are some benefits of journaling?

Journaling can be a helpful way to:

  • keep track of what’s going on in your life and make time for reflection
  • create a safe place to record your feelings and work through experiences in a way that feels right for you
  • be intentional and note what's going on around you to provide a new outlook or perspective
  • figure out what you want more of in your life

If you find journaling isn’t benefitting you, it’s OK if there are other tools and activities that feel better. It can take time to incorporate the practice of journaling into your wellness routine. You can be proud of yourself for taking the time to look after your well-being — whatever that means for you.

Tech tip: You can choose to enable the speech-to-text function on your device or computer by going to settings. Please note, however, that this function may not be supported on all devices, platforms or browsers.

Explore the journal that’s best for you

Notes to myself

Make notes of the things you notice feeling grateful for or appreciative of throughout the day.

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Bookend my day

Use specific prompts to set your mindset in the morning and reflect on your day in the evening.

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Reflect weekly

Use prompts to reflect back and remind yourself of where you found joy, calm and strength.

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Set goals for myself

Set goals for yourself about anything going on in your life: school, work, family, friends, hobbies, etc.

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Get creative

Explore an experience or moment through words, drawing, a collage or whichever way feels best to express yourself.

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Start exploring!

Notes to myself

These notes to yourself may be as simple as:

  • "I'm grateful for my comfy bed"
  • "I'm happy the sun came out today"
  • "I appreciate my friends"
  • "I feel better knowing that I made my neighbour smile"
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Here are a few tips to help guide your notes to yourself:

It can be helpful to start small: take note of something once a day, a few times a week or whenever you think about it. There’s no minimum amount, and it’s OK if you forget or skip a day. Journaling is less about the number of times or things you write down and more about the act of making time for reflection.

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Bookend my day (1 of 2)

Set your mindset and intention at the beginning of your day:

  • Today I'm excited about:
  • One thing I will do for myself:

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Bookend my day (2 of 2)

Reflect on your day in the evening:

  • Something good about today:
  • How I'd like to feel tomorrow:

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Reflect weekly

Here are a few examples of questions and prompts you can use to reflect on your week:

  • What personal strengths or skills did I use this week?
  • Who helped me this week?
  • Where did I find calm this week?
  • What helped me feel strong or happy this week?
  • What went well this week? Why did it go well?
  • I want to remember ____________.
  • I want _______ to keep happening.

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Start exploring!

Set goals for myself (1 of 2)

Here are a few examples of goal-setting prompts you could add to your journal:

  • Things I enjoy that I’ll make time for:
  • My main focus:
  • A personal goal:
  • A work/school goal:
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Daily goals

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Focus on setting one or two SMART goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific — what do I want to happen?
  • Measurable — how will I know I have accomplished it?
  • Attainable — is this a realistic goal for myself?
  • Relevant — is this important to me right now?
  • Time-based — what is my time frame to complete this goal?

Start exploring!

Set goals for myself (2 of 2)

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Weekly goals

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Focus on setting one or two SMART goals. SMART stands for:

  • Specific — what do I want to happen?
  • Measurable — how will I know I have accomplished it?
  • Attainable — is this a realistic goal for myself?
  • Relevant — is this important to me right now?
  • Time-based — what is my time frame to complete this goal?

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Get creative

Take five minutes to describe something in detail: through words, art, music or however you like to express yourself.

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Here are a few prompts you can use to guide this creative exercise:

Is there something positive or interesting that you really want to remember? What about a lesson you learned because of something that happened? Or a reminder of a thing or person that made you happy and brought you joy? Spend a few minutes drawing or making a collage of the details of the experience. Include things you saw, heard, felt, smelled and tasted to create a full picture of the experience or moment. This exercise may help the positive impact of the experience last longer.

Save your journal!

Recognizing the good things in your day may result in more positive thinking patterns, increased feelings of hope and can help you become a more balanced version of yourself. You can be proud of yourself for taking the time to look after your well-being — whatever that means for you.

Creating space to check in with yourself and acknowledge something positive at the beginning and end of your day can help shift your mindset over time. It may help you to recognize the good and note small steps you can take each day to shift your outlook or perspective. You can be proud of yourself for taking the time to look after your well-being — whatever that means for you.

At the end of the week it may be helpful to reflect on what brought you joy, strength and helped you to feel calm or grounded. It’s OK if your week didn’t go as anticipated or if some days felt tougher than others. You can recognize what went well and what you want more of to help prepare for the week ahead. You can be proud of yourself for taking the time to look after your well-being — whatever that means for you.

At the end of the day or week it may be helpful to reflect on the goal(s) you set for yourself. It’s OK if you didn’t accomplish all of your goals or meet them in the way you imagined. You can recognize the steps you took towards them and consider what may have made them challenging to accomplish and if starting small and building on them is more realistic. Taking time to reflect on your goals may help prepare for the day or week ahead. You can be proud of yourself for taking the time to look after your well-being — whatever that means for you.

One of the best parts about journaling is that you get to choose the format you use, depending on what’s most helpful for you. Reflecting on a specific experience through an activity that’s flexible and creative may provide perspective in a new way. You can be proud of yourself for taking the time to look after your well-being — whatever that means for you.

Preview your journal activity Notes to myself
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Preview your journal activity Bookend my day
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Set your mindset and intention in the morning
Reflect on your day in the evening
Preview your journal activity Reflect weekly
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Preview your journal activity Set Goals for myself
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My daily goals
My weekly goals
Preview your journal activity Get creative
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