Starting a self-care routine is one of the best ways you can improve your physical and mental health and take better care of yourself on a daily basis. A self-care journal is a great tool to help you create a new habit of focusing on your own needs, no matter what life throws at you.
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In this post, I’ll give you some self care journal ideas that don’t take much time and that can be used on a regular basis. Read here for tips on how to create a daily journaling habit.
What is self care?
Self care is simply the process of taking care of your body and your emotional health.
It sounds so simple, but people nowadays have such busy schedules that they often forget to practice self-care. Some people don’t even know how to pay attention to their own needs because they’re so focused on the needs of their family members or others around them.
If this is you, then it’s important to stop and ask yourself what you need. In what areas of your life are you feeling like you need to take better care of yourself?
One simple question that might help you to figure out whether you are prioritizing yourself is this: If your best friend treated you the way you treat you, would you still be friends with her?
What are the benefits of self care?
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “you can’t pour from an empty cup,” you’ll understand the importance of self-care. If your physical health is suffering, it’s hard to function. If your mental health is suffering, you may experience a lot of negative emotions or feel unmotivated.
When focusing on self care, you treat yourself how you would treat your best friend, with unconditional love and care. Think about the last time someone really seemed to pay attention to and respond to your needs. How did that feel? You can create a similar feeling by creating space for yourself with your journal.
The ultimate goal is for you to feel happier in your daily life, to create a positive mindset, and to build yourself up so that you can be the best version of yourself no matter what difficult situation comes your way.
A few of the benefits of consistent self care practice include:
- Feel better about yourself
- Like yourself more
- Improve your self confidence and self esteem
- Personal growth
- Meet your goals
- Feel more connected to yourself, your family members, others
- Develop more patience and compassion with yourself and other people
- Overcome negative thinking patterns that hold you back
- Create a positive attitude
- Reduce stress
- Develop coping skills to get through bad days
- Increase mindfulness of your own personal needs
- Have a creative outlet to express yourself
- Create better habits
- Try out different types of self-care to see what fits your different needs on different days
The good news is it only needs to take a little time to practice self-care when using a self care journal. This is a great habit to get into!
How to start a journal for self care
We live in a world that’s often focused on productivity. So we tend to overcommit and prioritize achieving things in our lives over taking care of ourselves.
In order to start a self care journaling practice, the first thing you need to do is make a commitment to yourself that you’re going to use the journal.
That means you might need to schedule it into your already busy schedule. Putting yourself in your schedule in this way may be outside of your comfort zone, but that will change over time as you spend time with this great habit.
All you need in order to start a self-care journal is a notebook and a pen, or even a computer note program if that works better for you. If you like bullet journaling, you can easily add self care to your bullet journal. You may also choose to purchase a new journal just for this process.
The journal you use is going to be dependent on what works best for you. Everyone has different needs and different ways that they are most likely to be successful with journaling. You may benefit from journaling in a structured journal with journal prompts, or you may enjoy using a blank page. My favorite way is to create self-care bullet journal pages in my traveler’s notebook. When I do bullet journaling, I create a lot of lists.
There isn’t really a wrong way to do this. The important thing is that you do it.
What do you write about in a self care journal?
Since the overall topic of self care journaling is taking care of yourself, the topics can be anything related to this. I believe that the way you journal is dependent on what works best for you.
I do a variety of things such as making lists, free writing, answering journal prompts, and using printables. I like using things like encouraging stickers or lettering to remind myself of things that are important to me.
Self care journal entries will typically fall under the following topics:
- Physical Health
- Mental and Emotional Well Being
- Fun or Play
It’s time to grab a cup of tea or your favorite beverage. Let’s get started with some self care page ideas so you know what to write about in your self care journal:
Physical Health Ideas For Self Care Journaling
The first area of self care to consider is whether you’re taking care of your physical health. You know that when you’re sick, in pain, or generally exhausted it’s hard to take care of the other areas of your life. Your work, your relationships, and your play all suffer. It’s hard to do anything when you don’t feel good.
Ask yourself whether you’re experiencing any health issues that are interfering with your life. Are you getting enough sleep? How’s your eating? All of these things might give you some ideas of what you should include in your self care journal.
Some ideas to include are:
A Fitness Journal:
Tracking your progress on your fitness goals is one way you can keep yourself engaged in your physical health. If you’re just starting out with fitness, this might be as simple as giving yourself credit for the things you did to be active during the day. You might track things like steps you took, what kind of exercise you did, or how many minutes of exercise. Heck, it could be just a yes or no question: Did you do something to move your body today?
I like to use a habit tracker sticker for this. Although it isn’t super fancy, I like seeing the boxes fill up. It makes it motivating for me.
Using a journal for weight loss can help you stay motivated and help you reach your goals. You might add a page that reminds you of the benefits of working toward weight loss goals. You might track your progress showing the number on the scale going down. Either way, dedicating part of your journal practice to weight loss can help you reach your goals.
One thing I started doing when I was on the Keto Diet was to create a list of my favorite recipes in my journal. That made meal planning much easier.
Having a plan will help you stay on track and avoid the quick stops for fast food. Healthy food can help you have more energy along with a lot of positive benefits. For me, meal planning has mostly involved creating a list of healthy recipes and foods that I actually like. I think that’s the best way to ensure you stick to eating healthy. When food gets boring or dull it’s unlikely you’ll stick to eating healthy.
Self Care Journal Ideas for Mental Health and Emotional Well Being
Starting a gratitude journal is one of the most powerful things you can do to take care of your emotional well-being. When you practice gratitude, you start to change the way you see the world because you change your focus.
I typically write down three things every day that I’m grateful for. Sometimes these are very little things like being grateful that I have Diet Coke in the fridge!
Practicing gratitude has helped me to focus on the positive things in life even when things have gone wrong. This winter our furnace broke during the coldest days of the year. I was pretty scared of what might happen as it got colder and colder. I worried my pipes would burst or my dogs would get too cold.
Luckily we were able to purchase a new furnace and have it installed pretty quickly. I deliberately chose to focus on being grateful that I was able to afford a new furnace rather than focusing on the negatives about the situation.
In the past I would have focused on how expensive it was, how it was unfair that my furnace broke, and all of the things I would have liked to do with the money instead.
When I noticed myself going down that path I deliberately chose to change my focus to thinking about being grateful that I had the means to be able to solve the problem. This was life changing.
The “Not To Do” List
There are things that you do that don’t bring any positivity to your life.
Think of the things you do only because you think you should do them, or the things you do because other people want you to do them.
Whenever you choose to do these things, you’re choosing not to do things that are important to you.
The “Not To Do List” is a place to remind yourself of the things that you choose not to do because they take away from the things you really want to be doing with your time.
Another thing to add to your “Not To Do List” are things that get in the way of your confidence. These are things like waiting for approval before doing something for yourself, allowing yourself to beat yourself up for mistakes, or comparing yourself to others.
Having a reminder of the things not to do will help you remain focused on what you value.
It also kind of gives you permission to say no to people when things come up that you already decided are on your “not to do list.” Imagine just saying, “you know what, I promised myself I would not commit to any more of that in my journal.” You’re off the hook.
The Happy List:
Create a list of things that you usually enjoy doing, things that make you feel good. I recommend writing this list at a time when you’re feeling good so you can use it during times when you don’t feel so good. It can be as simple as: 100 things that make me feel good/happy!
It’s incredibly helpful to pull this list out when you’re feeling down or unmotivated. When having one of those days where you just feel blah, pulling out this list and starting to do one of the things on the list can help you shift your mood and feel better. Some scientific evidence shows that behavioral activation can be an effective treatment for depression. Although your journal cannot be a substitute for treatment, it is good to know there is some evidence to support using your happy list!
Write a list of positive things you want to think about yourself. These can be used to combat negative thinking patterns and give you a more positive mindset. See this article for a detailed review of the benefits of using positive affirmations.
I often use stickers for this in my regular planner or journal. I like to have positive statements or quotes that remind me of these affirmations when doing something hard. For example, when I have to lead a tough meeting, I might put a sticker in my planner that says, “You’ve Got This!”
Motivational or Inspirational Quotes
Write a page of quotes you find inspiring. You can then look back on these quotes when you need a little boost.
If things were going just how you wanted them to, what would your ideal day look like? Daydreaming about the positive things in your future gives you a more positive mood and helps you to make goals and plans.
Comparing your typical day to your ideal day might also give you some clues as to what you should be putting on your “Not To Do” list.
Have you ever felt super anxious and unable to sleep because you have so much going on that you are worried you’ll forget to do something important? Having a brain dump page in your journal to get all of your thoughts out helps you to reduce this stress and anxiety because you know you have it written down and don’t have to keep thinking about it!
When I’m feeling self doubt or lack of confidence at work I make sure that I add a section to my journal where I write down a few things that I’ve done well during the day, things that I did that other people don’t find easy, and things I’m proud of.
I find this helpful because sometimes I forget to give myself credit for the things I do.
In general, the better you are at something…or the easier you find that thing, the harder it is to give yourself credit for it or to see it as a big deal. Look around though. There are plenty of people who don’t find what you just did to be that easy!
Your journal can be used to help you to develop new positive habits or to decrease negative habits. Having a place in your journal to track things helps you to keep them top of mind.
I showed you my habit tracker above. I also recommend using an app for this such as the Streaks app on the iPhone. An app gives you a reminder so you’re less likely to forget to do the behavior you’re trying to increase.
I’ve personally found that relying on. my journal for all of my habit tracking (especially the important things like taking my medication) is not all that effective. I don’t usually have my journal at the precise time I need to take my meds.
Write about some great memories you’ve experienced or some funny stories from your life.
One very powerful thing to do is to write about a time in your life when you felt proud of yourself or when you’ve felt confident. This type of journaling has helped me to overcome my fear of public speaking.
Reflection and Self Knowledge
Taking time to write about your thoughts and feelings in your journal can help you to have a better understanding of what you need. Since you likely spend a lot of time focusing on your to do list and just getting through the day, this type of journaling can help you pause and reflect.
Your journal is a safe space where you can work to understand your thoughts and feelings about things.
Things That Are Soothing
Similar to the list of things that make you happy, make a list of things that are comforting or that make you feel good. For example, I love fuzzy blankets, pastel colors, and the smell of Zum Mist Frankincense and Myrrh.
People in Your Life You Can Count On
This is similar to gratitude journaling in a way but it is focused on the people in your life that you know will be there for you. Taking time to reflect on those people and write your appreciation for the will make you feel good and likely give you warm fuzzy feelings toward them.
What are some areas in which you want to learn and grow? You can use your journal to set goals for personal growth. I like to set goals and then break those down into smaller steps so they feel achievable.
Use Journal Prompts
You can find journal prompts online or in books that you could use for your self care journal. I wrote journal prompts for mental health and self care in a previous post. Other self care journal prompts that I think would be helpful for your journal include;
- 100 Things I Like About Myself
- Things I Could Teach Others
- Things I’m Good At
- Things I’d Like to Improve
- Ways I Take Care of Myself
- Things I’ve Accomplished
- How I Reward Myself
- The Things I Value Most
Fun and Play in Your Self Care Journal
I believe that the more fun you can have with your journal, the more likely you are to continue using it. I often use stickers, doodles, and lettering in my journal to keep it pretty. This makes it so I like looking at the pages.
The way you do your journal can be fun and playful. You can see examples of people using their journal for art all over Instagram. You could also use your journal to create ideas for what you can do for fun.
Having things in your journal might help you to prioritize fun in your life. Just like you had to do to start doing a self care journal, you may have to schedule fun activities into your life.
Ideas for adding fun and play to your journal:
I think it’s fun to think about the things I want to buy in the future. It’s fun to think about these things. A bonus is that when you write it down in your journal and don’t purchase it impulsively, you get to really appreciate it when you do purchase it because you know you really want it.
Here’s my 2020 book journal all completed!
There’s nothing like a good book. Journaling about books you’ve read or keeping track of books you read serves as a reminder of the wonderful stories you’ve experienced. Learn more about keeping a book journal.
I created a digital journal dedicated to books which you can find on my Etsy shop.
Similar to a book journal, you might journal about movies or television shows you’ve enjoyed, podcasts, or other things you like.
Write about the things you want to do, places you want to go, or things you want to accomplish. Have fun checking these off as you do them!
A Creative Outlet
You can use your journal purely for fun. Use art supplies, stickers, washi, or whatever strikes your fancy. Tell stories, Make some scribbles. It’s your journal and you can do whatever you want with it. To me this is one of the best ways you can use your journal for self care. Making time to just play is great for your mental health.
Whether you’re new to journaling or have been using journaling for years, using these simple self care journal ideas will help you to take steps toward taking care of yourself and improving your life. I recommend starting slowly by choosing the area of your life that you most need to focus on.