Hobbies for Anxiety Relief: How to start journaling…and stick with it

You don’t have to be a master wordsmith to try your hand at journaling


Editor’s Note: Hobbies for Anxiety Relief is a miniseries exploring self-help tools that may help to improve mental health and assist with stress, anxiety and depression. This series aims to provide readers with different hobbies and skills to try and incorporate in their daily lives. 

Sometimes, we just need to talk our problems out with someone who will listen. However, this is not always as easy as we think, whether it be the fear of rejection or the inability to express ourselves that is holding us back. With journaling, we are allowed the chance to evaluate our thoughts and find deeper rooted problems in our lives without any external judgement. If you’ve tried journaling in the past and felt it wasn’t for you, I’m here to tell you it’s for everyone! You just need to find the right way to journal based on your specific needs and goals in life. Journaling has so many proven mental health benefits, and can be practiced in a variety of ways.

A common misconception with journaling is that it needs to be neat and aesthetically pleasing, or that you need to be an amazing writer to get anything out of it. But truly, that is the opposite of what journaling should be. Journaling is specifically for you. It can be messy, filled with pages of incomplete sentences or a whole bunch of gibberish. Journaling could be as simple as writing one thing you are grateful for every day, or as complex as using different colored pens and markers with fancy penmanship to write poems and inspiring quotes. Here is how you can find out which journaling technique works best for you, and how to get started:


1. Find your “why”

Why do you want to start journaling? Is it to relieve stress and anxiety or help with depression? Is it to be more organized? Is it just for fun? 

Figuring out your “why” is important, because it allows you to find the right type of journaling to ensure you get something valuable out of it. For example, if you are interested in journaling to relieve anxiety or depression, a gratitude list might be beneficial for you because it helps to visualize everything in your life that brings positivity and happiness. Or, if it’s just a new hobby you would like to pick up, maybe using colored markers and pens, finding some inspiring quotes, and making a bullet journal is something you’re interested in. Finding your “why” sets you up for success and you will be less likely to abandon your new found hobby.


2. Pick a journal that encourages you to write 

You should keep in mind how you want to use your journal when picking out the journal itself. I have two separate journals. One is lined, which I mostly use for writing my thoughts and making lists such as gratitude lists, song lists, and to-do lists. My second journal is called the “Better Every Day” journal which has a writing prompt for every day of the year. These two journals work for me, but everyone is different. If you want your journal to be an all-purpose “brain dump,” try opting for a dotted journal where you can create your own lines or use the dots to organize. Or, maybe a completely blank journal with no lines or dots would stir your creativity. Along with what’s inside the journal, choose something that is pleasing to your eye on the outside. TJ Maxx has a range of cute and affordable journals along with Target, local book stores, or Amazon. Choose something that makes you happy and excited to open it up and get writing. Once you find one that works for you, write your “why” on the first page. This will serve as a visual reminder as to why you started. 


3. Pick a style of journaling that will serve your “why” and work with your schedule

Each type of journaling serves a different purpose. Morning pages is a style of journaling that acts as a “brain dump” when you wake up in the morning. Or, daily prompts may be helpful for you if you find yourself trying to journal but at a loss for words and thoughts. Creating a gratitude list that you keep next to your bed to add one thing a day can be helpful to see all the wonderful people and things you have in your life. Creating lists could also be your form of journaling if you are looking to get more organized. There is nothing better than writing to-do lists and crossing items off throughout the day.

If you are looking towards journaling as a hobby and have an artistic side, a bullet journal could be right for you. Or, if you are struggling with self-confidence and self-love, writing daily affirmations may be beneficial. Additionally, it’s important to keep in mind your schedule and what time of day might be easiest for you to journal. I’m an early bird, so the morning is the best time for me to let my creativity flow and I even turn on music to help the process. For others, maybe the best time is before bed as a way to unwind, or possibly as a mid-day activity to break up your job or school work. Also, think about how much time you would like to spend journaling every day. Maybe it’s just 5-10 minutes or maybe it’s more. 


Journaling should not be a chore. It is there to serve you and only you. So find your why, pick out a journal that encourages you to write, and do some internal digging as to what you would like to get out of this practice. Explore some different journaling techniques and figure out a time of day and style of journaling that works for you and get writing. 


Email Madison Bethune at [email protected]

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