A photo of a white woman writing in her journal while drinking black coffee to represent - Journaling: What Makes It The Self-Care Go To?

Journaling: What Makes It The Self-Care Go To?

If someone hasn’t advised you to start journaling in order to practice self-care, then what planet have you been living on? If there’s one self-care tip we’ve all been recommended at some point, it’ll be journaling. That’s because bloggers can create wonderfully colourful journals and take beautifully choreographed photos in order to show them off. But do you really need to put all that time and effort into creating an artistically pleasing journal to write it? Or buy a journal to write in, for that matter?


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I’ve read countless posts, tweets, and other social media messages about how we should all buy or create a journal to write in. But personally, I don’t think you need to go that far to journal. After all, all you’re doing is writing about your thoughts and feelings. So why wait until you get a journal or until you can get to where you’ve stashed your journal to write?


I don’t know about you, but I have thoughts and feelings all the time, not just when I’m conveniently near my journal. I’m definitely not going to remember said thoughts and feelings if I wait all day to note them down in a journal.


An example of a journal to represent the topic of the article - Journaling: The Self-Care Go To


Back in the day, when my childhood traumas and other emotionally harsh events would keep me up at night, giving me insomnia (this was when I had little emotional control over my BPD), I’d just write and write to get everything out of my head so I could better process it all and be able to get some sleep. Which was really helpful.


I used to just keep a cheap notepad and pen next to my bed to write about whatever was stopping me from sleeping. I’d also wake up frequently and would write about what was on my mind at the time. Sometimes it would have been my traumas, other times it would be random thoughts, dreams, or fragments of poems my mind created.


It’s been more than a decade since I last did that, and that was all pre-smartphones. Since then, I’ve not really needed to write anything down like that, as I’ve been able to process and think of how to overcome issues in my head instead, largely due to having control over my emotions nowadays.


But since taking up blogging, I now keep notes of stuff that could be useful to turn into a post, similar to journaling (in a way), but on a note app on my phone, rather than handwriting something. Inspiration can pop up at any time, so using an app on my phone is far more useful.


Writing has always been a love-hate relationship with me, because I can barely read my own handwriting, due to how I tried to cope with my dyslexia (My Life Before My Dyslexia Diagnosis and How Being Diagnosed With Dyslexia Changed My Life). My terrible handwriting is only made worse by my inability to spell, meaning I often have no idea what I’ve written if I’ve written it by hand. Thus, going digital means my grammar and spelling are better, plus it means I can easily read what I’ve written.




Benefits Of Digital Journaling


The following is a list of some of the benefits of digital journaling, some of which might have already popped up during the first part of this post. But it’s handy to have them properly listed out for convenience.


  • If you’re using an app on your phone to write your journal, then you’ll always have it with you so you can update it whenever you need to. This is also beneficial if you’re trying to identify triggers for things. For example, when I decided to run some health experiments on myself, having my phone with me to keep track and make notes about my hypos was extremely useful.
  • It helps you with your spelling and grammar, which is a huge plus if you have dyslexia (My Life Before My Dyslexia Diagnosis and How Being Diagnosed With Dyslexia Changed My Life) as I do.
  • It’s much easier to export a digital journal than it is from a paper and pen format. If you wanted to turn your journaling into a blog post or a book, then that would be a huge timesaver.
  • You can add pictures and hyperlinks, depending on which app you decided to use.
  • It’s far easier to make edits and corrections, and it won’t make a mess of your work when you do so.
  • You can sync some apps across multiple platforms, making it easier to write on the go on your phone or on your computer.


Benefits Of Journaling In General For Your Mental Wellbeing


I couldn’t really finish this post without listing some of the positives of journaling as a whole, rather than just making it about my preference for keeping it digital.


  • It’s a good way to process unpleasant and painful events.
  • It’ll allow you to rid yourself of destructive thoughts.
  • Journaling can be used to help you solve problems.
  • It will allow you to track your progress or track symptoms and triggers.
  • It’ll give you something to look back on.
  • It’s a good way to brainstorm ideas.
  • You can use it to keep track of things you want to remember, not just good memories, but also stuff like quotes.
  • It’s a good way to de-stress and relax.
  • It can help you organise your thoughts and think before you act rashly.
  • It can help you let go.


A photo of a white woman writing in her journal while drinking black coffee to represent - Journaling: What Makes It The Self-Care Go To?


Negatives Of Journaling


There can be downsides to journaling, which you may want to consider if you have poor mental health before taking up the activity.


  • Although journaling can help you manage your thoughts, work through things, problem-solving, etc., for some, it may cause you to overthink, which can bring with it a new set of problems.
  • Writing negative things could cause a negative spiral because you’re dwelling on the negatives in your life too much.
  • Much like people who go to places solely to capture the perfect Instagram picture, journaling can also have a similar effect. Instead of experiencing the experience, you may be more concerned with how you’re going to write about it instead.
  • Journaling can be difficult because you may have to confront difficult experiences, traumas, and emotions.






There are obvious benefits to journaling, otherwise, it wouldn’t be suggested as a self-care method and I wouldn’t have listed the ones I did in this post. But there are also some negatives, which, weirdly, are pretty similar to some of the positives. These negatives are more likely to be an issue for someone struggling with dark thoughts due to their mental health issues.


Because everyone is different, what will be a positive for journaling for some people might be a negative for someone else. No one knows you better than you, so weigh up the journaling idea, and maybe take it out for a test run before committing to it. That way, you can see which side of the line you fall on.


That said, it doesn’t matter if you use an app or a physical journal, if writing about events, situations, triggers, your emotions, etc. might help you, do it, and find a way to do it that works best for you.


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Remember, you don’t have to buy yourself a special journal to write in order to take up this self-care activity. You also don’t have to spend hours creating and decorating one either, unless you want to, that is. So if you’re interested in trying journaling for the first time, or just fancy changing your existing journaling habit, then why not try using an app on your phone to journal instead? I highly recommend it.


As always, leave your feedback in the comments section below. Also, feel free to share your experiences on the best way to keep a journal and if you’re old school with a notebook or digital with an app in the comments section below as well. If you want to stay up-to-date with my blog, then sign up for my newsletter below. Alternatively, get push notifications for new articles by clicking the red bell icon in the bottom right corner.


Lastly, if you’d like to support my blog, then you can make a donation of any size below as well. Until next time, Unwanted Life readers.





70 thoughts on “Journaling: What Makes It The Self-Care Go To?

  1. Great advice here. I hadn’t really thought of the negative side of it until reading this. I do love to journal though, I have a bullet one and a normal journal but about 3 notebooks on the go at any one time!

  2. Great post! As you said, journaling is very “in,” right now, and can be useful when processing your thoughts and emotions. Bullet journals always look so beautiful, but to me it seems like a lot of work for something you won’t refer back to that often (I don’t typical go back at look at past journal entries). I tend to do things digitally for ease (google docs are my friends). That way I can brain dump, or write down ideas, and those idea are with me whether I’m around my laptop or phone.

    • I’ve rarely ever looked back at any of the physical stuff I’ve written, when I use to do it. Althought I believe I still have a lot of it in a file box somewhere gathering dust.

      I’m definitely in the digital camp too, far more convenient, and I’m not interested in creating a beautifully designed journal just to write stuff I can barely read as my handwriting sucks

  3. This is very informative, i always had this misconception that journaling was a hand written exercise with good, clear handwriting and pretty calligraphy. I’m so glad you brought up and introduced me to digital journaling.

  4. I love journaling – I find it so therepeutic. Even if it’s not about the topic that has me worrying, getting something down on paper seems to make me feel better It’s also such a great way to slow down. As you mention, a great self-care option/

  5. I think you’re the first person I’ve seen write about the potential downsides of journaling. Everyone encouraged me to journal when I was pregnant and experiencing preterm labor issues but I refused to; I didn’t want to focus on or dwell on or probably even accept just how scared I was. I just wanted to get through it. I take a lot of notes and save ideas as drafts that will never be published but I don’t have a good habit of journaling.

    • I don’t think I’ve seen many people talk about the negatives either, now that you mention it.

      I can understand not wanting to journal during such a scary period during your pregnancy, I think I’d also prefer a distraction approach, not that I can get pregnant as a man

  6. Great post! Like others, I appreciate you calling out the negative side of journaling. I had a few false starts where it would give me MORE anxiety because I was trying to copy journaling styles I had seen online.

    Now, I mainly use my physical journal for brainstorming for my blog and novel and for managing specific projects. Everything else just goes into the notes app on my phone.

    • It seems that the negatives of popular self-care strategies get overlooked, which is a shame. But I’m glad you found a way that works for you as an individual

  7. I, too, have BPD! In fact, a large percentage of what I write is due to having BPD – whether that be venting, reflecting, exposing or working on self growth and forgiveness. This read is spot on!

  8. I love especially how you list the negatives of journaling, since most of the pieces I have read recommend journaling without exploring the full picture. Journaling works well for some of my friends, but I myself tried it and almost got caught in a negative spiral. For me, writing is my self-care. 🙂

  9. Not so long ago the thought of having a journal didn’t appeal to me whatsoever. Turns out it’s now the most important thing I do.

  10. I love how you explored every side there is to journal here. You’re right, digital journalling is easier as you can start anytime. But I find that hand writing my thoughts makes me spend more time with memories and thoughts, as I write slower than I type. Just a personal preference, but I’m sure digital will work better for many people ?

  11. Great post. It’s good that you’ve gone through the good and not so good sides of journalling. Not many people do that.

  12. Great post, I intentionally started journaling this month and I like it, I just struggle to keep up on hectic days

  13. My wife took up journaling recently and she cannot get enough of it. She has told me that it is the perfect start to her morning routine, and it’s probably about time I take a look at it myself. Great post!

  14. Now that I am blogging I find that I take a lot more notes. I guess you could call it journaling but it is more like random thoughts that might come in useful or things I don’t want to forget.

  15. I started journaling about a year ago just to try it out. And it was such a lovely mind-dump that it’s become a regular hobby and a part of my well-being routine. It helps me direct my thoughts to the right things and realize stuff that I don’t necessarily think about on a regular basis. I’m so glad to read that journaling has worked for you so well in the past. It’s amazing how much little things matter sometimes 🙂

  16. I agree with this post wholeheartedly. My notes end up on anything sometimes… don’t throw that paper towel away I have a note there. Journaling for the most part is positive, but I have had issues in the past where I was dwelling in a situation too much by constantly Journaling about it. I just have to be conscious of it and careful.

  17. This is such a great post! I definitely like to journal too. Social Media is great and all, but there’s just something to actually putting a pen to a piece of paper that calms me and helps me think better than just typing. Thanks for sharing this!

  18. I love this, and I’m so glad you have an outlet. I also love to journal and it feels amazing to get all those thoughts out on the table.

  19. I have a discrete notebook to do some journaling in but a few years ago I found a website called Penzu and I liked it because I can type faster than I write, I had a password on it so I never had to worry about someone finding and reading it, and I could log in and journal from anywhere. I still have a discrete notebook, but I use that one to write down things that someone did that hurt me so that when I’m finished writing all that I want to write, I can burn or shred the book in a symbolic way to release and leave all of that hurt behind. I think the physical journal helps if you want to do something symbolic like that, but both are helpful in their own ways. Thanks for sharing the pros and cons of both!

  20. I’m intending to start tracking my emotions in my journal so this was an interesting read. I do have doubts about writing it down physically as it can be a negative reminder but I have heard it can be healthier to write & then tear out!

  21. I often blog to journal. I use other social media platforms in order to get my mind out there in the world, or just get my thoughts down on paper. I haven’t really thought about doing it via smartphone, although after reading your article I may reconsider.

  22. This is a very informative article! This is something I would print up and use to give to my clients. Not only am I a therapist, but I use journaling myself. Great article!

  23. I love journaling but sticking to it is the problem. I hate my inconsistency!

  24. I used to journal a lot before but have not done much recently. I agree that it can help you a lot with working out different problems and issues. Helps with getting your thoughts out and makes you figure out next steps.

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