Mindful Journaling: 15 Fantastic Benefits And How To Get Started

hand with pen writing in notebook

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I was recently introduced to mindful journaling during a master class session for my coaching diploma.  It immediately struck me what a great way it was to stop thoughts racing and to feel much calmer about things.

The tutor demonstrated the use of mindful journaling during the practice session which I was observing. Not having tried this form of mindfulness myself previously, I decided to follow along.

The following two (lovely and calming) exercises were used during the session.

fantastic benefits of mindful journaling

Mindful Journaling – Exercise 1

The first exercise was to reflect on the previous day and to write step-by-step what happened in each moment.  From the moment you woke up to the moment you went to bed.

[tweetshare tweet=”The little things? The little moments? They aren’t little. – John Kabat-Zinn” username=”alisonw30″]

Joining in with the exercise, I found it surprising how much I could actually remember about the small details of my day.  There were a few things that popped up to make me smile.  A friendly interaction with someone.  A shared joke with someone else.  Writing it all down was very therapeutic.

You might also note down what you were feeling and thinking as things occurred during the day.

Grab your free printable PDF with 50 journal prompts for self-discovery

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Mindful Journaling – Exercise 2

The second exercise was to mindfully journal about the present moment using all five senses. Again, I joined in and wrote down what I could see, hear, feel, taste and smell.

I’ve done a similar exercise before,  but only in my head.  Writing down what I was observing most definitely brought an extra dimension to the exercise.

Whether you’re already familiar with mindfulness and meditation or not, mindful journaling is a quick way to incorporate more mindfulness into your daily life.

journal on table with cup and plant

Photo by My Life Journal on Unsplash

Mindful Journaling – Exercise 3

This one wasn’t demonstrated by my tutor but is one I’ve read about whilst researching for this post.  In this exercise, you take your pen and paper and write down the thoughts as they come into your head in a ‘stream of consciousness’.

I’ve not tried this as yet, but think it could be helpful for those times when your mind is racing and won’t slow down.  (This is something that happens to me personally, a lot, so I’m definitely going to try this exercise!)

So why do this at all?

Here are 15 fantastic benefits that mindful journaling will give you

There’s lots of research on the benefits of journaling.  Here are 15 fantastic ones I’ve picked out.

  1. It’s quick. You can do any of the exercises I’ve mentioned in just five minutes each day.
  2. Helps you to get your thoughts and feelings out into the open.
  3. Increases your self-awareness.
  4. Helps you to identify unhelpful thought patterns and negative self-talk.
  5. Allows you to identify triggers for certain emotions.
  6. Helps you to process and learn from difficult experiences, gaining insight and learning.
  7. Allows you space and time to release negative emotions.
  8. Helps you notice the good things in life and to express gratitude.  (Writing about gratitude is linked to better sleep and lower anxiety.  It’s even been shown to help with our relationships).
  9. Gives you more clarity and helps you to make decisions.
  10. Helps you feel calm under pressure.
  11. Decreases stress levels.
  12. Boosts your mood.
  13. Breaks the pattern of rumination and overthinking.
  14. Helps you identify things that you may not otherwise notice.  For example, themes or thought patterns which come up on a regular basis.
  15. Helps you identify your values and what is truly important to you in life.

[tweetshare tweet=”Journaling is like whispering to one’s self and listening at the same time. – Mina Murray” username=”alisonw30″]

mindfulness written on paper near window

Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash

Tips for mindful journaling

Whether you decide to try journaling about the happenings of your day, your thoughts or your immediate surroundings, here are some tips to help you get started.

  1.  Before beginning your mindful journaling session, make sure you have found a suitable spot to sit.  One where you won’t be disturbed.
  2. Make sure you are going to be comfortable.
  3. Obviously, make sure you have your notebook or journal to hand.  Ideally use paper and pen rather than recording your thoughts electronically. This can help everything to seem more present and real.  It’s also easier to refer back to later, rather than your journal being lost somewhere in cyberspace!
  4. Why not buy yourself a new notebook and pen specifically for this purpose.  They don’t have to be expensive.
  5. Before you start, settle down your mind.  Try focusing on your breath for a few moments.  Or you could try my beginners’ meditation.
  6. Resist the temptation to look back over previous entries in your journal until you’ve completed the exercise for today.
  7. Date your entries (this is helpful for when you DO look back).
  8. Suspend judgement and expectations.  If your mind wanders (and it will) then bring yourself back to the task in hand.
  9. If you’re struggling to focus, then try concentrating on a particular item such as your cup of tea.  Notice all the small details and note them down.  You could also try focusing on one sense at a time.  For example, note down everything you can see or hear to begin with.  (I always find focusing on sounds to be incredibly relaxing).
  10. Plan a specific time to journal mindfully.
  11. Don’t be hard on yourself if you miss a few sessions, particularly at the beginning.  It takes time to build a habit.
  12. Don’t worry about being particularly articulate.
  13. Be honest.  Try not to hold back.

cup of tea on table with flowers, hand and book

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash


Mindful journaling is an alternative way of practising mindfulness.  It can be incredibly healing and you only need a few minutes each day.

There are many benefits to journaling in this way.  It can help you to feel calmer, to make better decisions and to break negative thought patterns.

It’s easy to get started, all you need are a spare five minutes and a notebook and pen.

You may not, as I didn’t, associate mindfulness with a pen and paper.  Practising the exercises I’ve talked about has shown me that they actually go really well together.

Mindfulness is all about paying attention to the now.  Writing can help you do this and, I’ve found, helps slow down the thoughts whizzing through your head.

Have you heard of mindful journaling before?  Have you tried it or are you now curious to give it a go?

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Related posts:

The Power Of Meditation – 5 Astonishing Ways It Can Help You

15 Practical Tips That Will Stop Your Mind Racing

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  1. Alex Grace

    This sounds fantastic! It’s not something I’ve personally done myself -but will definitely give it a try now. Thanks for all the helpful tips! x

  2. Lori

    I used to be a very consistent journaler, but somehow got away from it. I am thinking I will start up again, because I’ve always found writing to be soothing, especially when putting my thoughts in order! There is something about making the effort to write things down that goes beyond just thinking about them. Thanks for the article, you’ve presented some great info and have spurred me to get started!

  3. Latisha

    Journaling relaxes the mind and helps keep you functioning in a healthy way. I appreciate you sharing more information about Mindful Journaling and providing encouraging journal prompts for us to use.

  4. Yolanda

    I love writing in my journal every day. Even a few sentences makes me feel more in tune with myself. Such a great stress reliever and a good way to lt go of negative feelings when they arrive. Great post 🙂

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