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8 Types Of Journaling And How To Use Them...

There are many types of journaling and to get this article rolling lets start with a quote from one of the most famous journal / diary users of all time.

And that of course is Anne Frank, she wrote “I can shake off everything as I write; my sorrows disappear, my courage is reborn”

Anne had wanted a diary for some time and in 1942 on her thirteenth birthday her parents bought her just that.

Her only entry that day expressed how she hoped that she would be able to entrust everything to her diary and that it would be a great support.

Today, we tend to think of journals more so than diaries as a place to ‘unload’ our minds.

They are great places for jotting down your thoughts, releasing your feelings, recording gratitude, charting your progress, listing goals and much more.

Many people find that keeping a journal helps reduce stress, provides mental clarity, releases their worries and sparks creativity.

There are many different types of journaling that you can explore that will fit your lifestyle, so here we go...

Our Top 8 Types of Journaling

hand holding floral notebook with diagonal overlay of book cloth

Any notebook or journal can be made to fit whatever purpose you want, you can see the above notebook/journal here!

Gratitude Journal

Taking time out to reflect on gratitude can help us to focus on the positive things in life leading to increased happiness, higher levels of satisfaction with our lives and to be a happier, healthier person.

Writing about the positive events of the day, week, month, year or your life can help to reduce your stress levels resulting in you feeling a lot calmer. 

Thinking about the simple things in life, the morning bird song, the beauty of nature and even that cup of tea you have just made can all lead to becoming less materialistic and being more in the moment, try and recognise as many grateful moments as you can.

Learn to recognise the gratitude of others and what they do for you and you for them, this in turn can help in making you feel loved, appreciated and better about yourself.

All these positive emotions activate the ‘relaxation response’ so in turn the physical effects are huge too, you’ll be less likely to experience burnout, you'll experience better sleep and less fatigue and overall have better physical health.

Getting started can seem quite daunting, but try not overthink it, maybe try one sentence at a time. Let me give you some suggestions to set you on your way…

  • Write about a member of your family that supports you
  • How about a time when a friend did something for you
  • Name that one person who is always there for you.
  • Think of alternative ways to say thank you
  • List 3, 5 10 things that you were grateful for during the day.
  • What is your favourite song and why
  • List hobbies / interests that bring you joy
  • What was the best part of your day?
  • Think about your body, all the ways you are healthy

By being more grateful you will open up your heart to connecting / receiving more from life and that cannot be a bad thing and is a great place to start with out types of journaling! 

red spined notebook with colourful red floral pattern

How about a bright and colourful travel journal?? You can see it here!

Travel Journal

So if you're a true journal addict there will be no doubt you have a journal for every occasion, from reading to ideas through to gardening and pregnancy and of course, a travel journal.

A lasting record of all your travel experiences which you can share with your children, grand children and anyone else who wants to listen! It can include the destination, itinerary, friends you made and photos you took from the top of that famous mountain that you have just forgotten the name of! 

Why use a travel journal? Traveling will lead to new discoveries and experiences, the place’s culture and their customs. Being able to write down these observations and your experiences will help you to absorb more of the surroundings and enable you to reflect and remember the fantastic memories you made during the trip.

Why wait until you are in your chosen destination to start your journal? Your journal can be used to write down all your ideas and plans for the upcoming trip.

You could note down your proposed itinerary, any tours you would like to take or famous restaurants that you would like to indulge in. Writing about your expectations before you arrive can heighten the excitement and give you a sense that your holiday has already begun.

So where to start….

  • Before departure, think about why you have chosen this destination?
  • Which places are you getting most excited about visiting?
  • What are your expectations for your upcoming trip? 

On your travels….

  • Remember the date for all your entries, even the times of certain events. It is so much easier to remember events when they are fresh in your mind. Try and write as much as you can daily or even if you stop for a well earned drink, just jot down a couple of words for reminders.
  • Write about all the places you visited. You could write about your feelings when you got to the top of that mountain you’d desperately wanted to climb. What was the view like?
  • What were the locals like, were they welcoming? Did you make any friends?
  • A picture paints a thousand words, take as many pictures as you can and glue them into your journal so that you can relive your memories.
  • Write about the food you tasted, which dishes you loved and hated and maybe those you’d like to try at home.
  • Save your tickets - whether it be plane, train, bus or camel - save the ticket and glue into your journal.
  • If you have lots of mementos which have significant meaning why not create a pocket in your journal to store them in.

Reflection…

  • Reflect and write upon your experience. What did you learn? Did you learn anything new about yourself?
  • What did you like the most and least about the trip?
  • Write about your recommendations?
  • Would you have done anything differently?
  • Maybe, most importantly…… where to next?!! 

corner of a blue spined notebook with a regal gold and blue pattern

A strong journal is a must when you're working around food, how about this regal looking journal? See it here!

Food Journal

Food journals are becoming increasingly popular when it comes to types of journaling as people become more aware of their health.

Food journals can be a useful tool helping you to understand your eating habits. So whether you want to lose weight, monitor your food intake or discover foods that you may have an intolerance to, keeping a journal can be very effective.

So the journal will be a record of all your daily meals. It should include what you are eating, how much you are eating and when you are eating.

For instance, note down the food that was consumed and how it was prepared (baked, fried, grilled etc). Make sure you include any sauces, dressings or toppings.

Write the amounts in teaspoons, tablespoons, cups etc and if possible weigh and measure your food. Keeping a note  

of the times when you are eating is helpful too, are you a late-night snacker? Jot down where you are eating, what else are you doing while eating, who are you eating with and your mood at the time of eating. 

The benefits of a food journal…

  • Weight loss - the journal will be your tracker of all the foods eaten and how much. If done properly, it should include all those naughty snacks or those one off biscuits that we think won’t matter. Research has shown that those people who keep food journals tend to lose twice as much weight as those that don’t.
  • Healthy eating - you will be able to see at a glance if you are eating a well balanced diet, lots of vitamins and nutrients.
  • Eating habits - you will learn so much about your eating habits and patterns. You will be able to spot the unhealthy habits and what may cause these, do you indulge in large puddings after a meal or do you eat very little throughout the day and then binge at night.
  • Accountability - When you can see all the foods you eat, it tends to make you think twice about what you are going to eat and therefore making you more accountable for any weight gain and thus more self conscious of what you are doing.
  • Calories - Perfect for calculating and recording the calories you need in a day and then monitoring them.
  • Intolerances - Detailing how certain foods make you feel could help determine any foods to which you may be intolerant. Do you feel bloated after eating? Are you uncomfortable after drinking milk or having any dairy products? Do you react badly to nuts or foods that contain gluten? Keeping records of these feelings could help to identify patterns after certain foods.
  • Reality - The journal will help you to see your diet for what it is. Sometimes we tend to focus on the good foods, the healthy foods and ignore the rest. The journal will reflect how the unhealthy foods and having a negative impact on the good foods.
  • Motivation - When you can see what goals you have set and then look to see what you have achieved in the first few weeks you will realise you can do this and that your goals are attainable.

Apart from all of this, the journal is an amazing tool for those people who want to try different recipes in the future and expand their cookery knowledge. Why not take some photos of that delicious dish you have just created and glue it into your journal.

green floral patterned notebook

For the garden journal why not try something a little floral?? See it here!

Garden Journal

So why keep a garden journal? A perfect and handy record of flowers, plants and vegetables you would like to plant out in your garden each season and so that you won’t forget what and where you planted them!

You might hear your local expert talking about a new Dahlia that has blooms two foot wide, you could write it down so that if you ever wanted to grow it, you’ll know exactly what to do.

Keep records of the best shops and websites to buy certain seeds from and to record all your triumphs and hopefully, not too many disasters!

Getting started…

  • Make a note of your plant hardiness zone (this identifies how well plants will withstand the winter temperatures).
  • Find out what your spring and autumn frost dates are (this will give you a rough idea when to start planting out your seedlings).
  • Separate your journal into sections, something like, plans / layout, seeds, plants, notes and guidance, calendar, garden maintenance, wildlife etc.
  • Create a plan of your garden. Break it down into sections, vegetable garden, borders, etc. If you are lucky enough to have a drone you could have an aerial image and glue this into your journal. Having a detailed plan is very helpful, it will help to record where you have planted things, help you plan for future plantings and will also give you an exact record of how much space you have to work with. If for example you have raised beds in the vegetable garden, then the plan will also help you to determine how many seeds or plants you will need to grow in order to fill that space. It can also be a great reminder to you of where your sunny and shady areas are.
  • When you start to plant out your seeds or plants you will want to keep a record of what you have sown and the variety and the date you planted them. Write down how many you planted per pot and the compost you used. The seed packets themselves contain lots of valuable information so you might like to keep these too. You can either glue them in or add a pocket to your journal.
  • General notes will be a very useful section both now and in the future. Keep a record of everything you do in the garden, from types of fertiliser you used, compost that worked well through to pruning and lawn care. You could even note down what the weather was like, rough temperature guides etc.
  • A calendar is always useful, just print one out and glue in or make your own. Brilliant for keeping track of your harvest dates.
  • Garden Maintenance section will hold all those vital details about all those jobs you carried out in order to make your garden the beauty it is today. Things like what weeds were in the garden, how did I control them, what did I use or maybe you mulched the beds, what type of mulch did you use.
  • Write about the wildlife you see in your garden such as birds and butterflies and what plants they were attracted to or it might be how I should have protected my cabbages because the caterpillars ate them!

Keeping a garden journal is a very informative and beautiful way of keeping a record of how your garden evolved over the years. It will outline your successes and highlight things you can learn from. It will also be something you can look back on for years to come with a great sense of pride and achievement.

 This what is great about the different types of journaling, take gardening for instance, it is a hobby enjoyed by millions and with the addition of a journal, it can become so much more enjoyable as you can see the progress you've made.

You can take this principle and apply it to any other hobby to get that similar level of gratification that comes with tracking progress.

oatmeal coloured linen notebook

How about something a little more neutral?? See it here!

Pregnancy Journal

As an expectant mother you will go through a rollercoaster of emotions and easily feel overwhelmed, shocked and surprised. Then ‘baby brain’ hits, you’re experiencing memory lapses, starting to experience morning sickness, it can be a bit of a whirlwind.

Pregnancy is also a really exciting time with many milestones that need to be recorded, no matter how big or small they are all notable moments on your journey.

Keeping your journal is a great way to hold on to these memories, times you will look back on in years to come and not forgetting, journaling has been found to be beneficial to your mental health and stress levels, a win win for you and your baby.

The benefits of your pregnancy journal…

  • You will be experiencing a whole host of emotions and ups and downs, so by taking time out to write down how you are feeling, if you have any worries will help to relieve stress and install some calmness in your life. It’s like having a heart-to-heart with a best friend.
  • Detail any unusual symptoms you may be experiencing so that you can ensure to speak with your midwife about them.
  • Track what you eat and any food cravings or foods you suddenly loathe.
  • Record your baby’s first movement Keep a record of your baby’s daily movement too. This will help you to spot any signals of distress and also give an idea of how the baby responds to different sounds, feelings etc.
  • Brainstorm baby names, jot down any ideas you have.
  • Take lots of photos, it could be of your blossoming self, your baby bump etc and glue in your scan photos.

To get started…

  • Write about the moment you found out you were pregnant. Where were you, who were you with?
  • What prompted you to carry out a test?
  • What were your first symptoms?
  • Were you experiencing morning sickness?
  • Who was the first person you told about your pregnancy?
  • How did friends and family react? Who had the best reaction?
  • How has your body changed?
  • How much weight have you gained?
  • Do you want to find out if you are having a boy or girl?
  • What foods are you craving?
  • Detail your trips to the midwife, visits to the hospital
  • Have you had any aches, pains, mood swings or cravings?
  • Can you still see your toes?
  • Do you still fit behind the steering wheel of the car?
  • What are the hopes and dreams for your baby and their future?

Remember though, your journal is a place to relax and have fun, so choose the right time to jot down what happened that day.

Keep your notebook by the place you sit most or by the bed and have a pen handy! Write so that things are fresh in your mind and try and write in depth as details are soon forgotten.

Fill it with photos, a picture says so much. Keep it unrefined, don’t overthink it and then when you look back at it you will laugh, shed some tears and forget all that pain! 

middle eastern style patterned gold notebook

A fan of middle eastern style, then this may very well be 'the' notebook for you! See it here!

Reading Journal

Of the various types of journaling, it may seem odd to write about reading, or maybe not it just sounds a bit odd!

So for all those avid book lovers, you know that when you get pulled into the book, hook, line and sinker, you feel close to it, to the characters, the story becomes part of you as you make your way through the pages. Close the book, the story stops, open it again and the adrenaline rush starts all over.

A reading journal will help you keep a record of all those books you want to read, the books you want to buy, which books you have read and what you thought of them.

It’s your record of your reviews, you can scribble down all your unedited thoughts and opinions without being worried about anyone seeing them. It can be something simple like ‘best book ever read’ or it could be a note to self not to read anything else by this author!

So you’ve chosen your beautiful journal, let’s start journaling...

  • Create a title page, could be the year, this is a good idea if you are going to keep more than one year in a journal.
  • Write a list of the books that you want to read or have read. Put a title at the top of the page, something like, ‘Books I have Read’. Add drawings, pictures, make it as fancy as you like. Do make sure you leave a number of blank pages as I am sure you will have plenty to add.
  • You might like to add some extra pages, you could include TV series’ and movies that you’ve watched.
  • Next you can move on to your review section. Do whatever works best for you, it can be as simple or as detailed and elaborate as you wish. Some suggestions to include would be…
    • Title
    • Author
    • Date I started reading the book
    • Date I completed the book
    • Genre
    • Number of pages
    • Why did you choose this book, was it based on a review, did a friend recommend it or did you just like the cover?
    • My opinion of the book
    • Rating

Really simple and easy to use. You will find it really satisfying when you come to the end of the year and have a flick through the pages and re-discover all those books you read. A lovely keepsake for the avid reader and a great source of inspiration for others, if you wanted to share it! 

black notebook with oatmeal spine and oatmeal dotted pattern

Black doesn't have to be boring, how about getting a bit dotty with your workout! See it here!

Workout Journal

One of the great things about the different types of journaling is that not only can it be great fun, but it can also have profound psychological and physical benefits, with the workout journal, we'll be looking at the latter.

This journal can be a very useful tool for when you are looking to work out to get that bigger, stronger, leaner body you’ve been searching for, if you are thinking of running a marathon or taking up endurance sports.

It will become a key part of your training schedule, enabling you to keep detailed records of all your workouts. It will help you to remember how much you lifted on your squats or how many reps you managed, because I doubt you will remember each and every time!

Keeping your journal will keep you focused and is highly motivational, you’ll look back and see the progress you have made. It will help you to achieve your goals and attain optimum health. Keep track of your trips to the gym, workouts at home and all your hard work and dedication.

What to include…

  • Daily Fitness Log - record the date and week number. Detail the activity, for instance ‘Cardio’ - this could be on machines like treadmill, bike, stair climber or a class like aerobics, spin, boxing or free form such as running, walking, swimming etc. Make a note of the duration, speed / level, heart rate, calories used etc.
  • ‘Strength Training’ - record any exercise that requires lifting or movement with weights or using your own body-weight as resistance. For example squats, deadlifts, bench press, bicep curls, shoulder press etc. Be sure to record your weight and reps for each set. You could have a section that details the muscle groups worked today, arms, legs, chest, core.
  • ‘Flexibility’ - If you’re taking classes in yoga, pilates, barre or doing them at home record them here. Included details of duration, which class you took etc.
  • Workout programmes - you could detail the plan you are considering following for the coming weeks as a point of reference.
  • Technique - consider how good your technique was or how difficult you found a certain weight during a given set or exercise. Be honest with yourself, if you managed an extra rep but your technique was poor then this will not help you in the long term.
  • Supplements - list any supplements that will help you with your fitness regime, detailing dosage and effects.
  • General section - make a note of your thoughts, moods, issues, feelings. For example ‘I was feeling tired so I didn’t feel like putting in a full workout’.
  • Weekly progress chart - record your weight, measure your arms, chest, hips, waist and legs, record your BMI and add any additional notes. Add photos, go on, be brave!

Your journal will help you to attain better, achievable goals and is your master plan for achieving them.

They can be short term or long term goals, but either way you can track and measure them within your workout journal. Once you start you will be amazed at how useful and essential it is and wonder how you ever managed without it!

oatmeal coloured floral patterned notebook

This oatmeal floral journal is a great choice for those who are looking for something a little more subtle. See it here!

Bullet Journal

The types of journaling don't just have to be linked to different events or activities, they can also be different ways of organising the journal itself.

In the words of the creator himself, Ryder Carroll, the bullet journal is meant “to help you track the past, organize the present and plan for the future.” The journal is an organisational system within a notebook. It can be as simple or as complicated as you wish, think about what you want the system to achieve before diving in.

So you’re armed with your stunning journal and pen, where do I start….

  • Index / contents page. This is how you are going to organise your entries. In order for the indexing to work, you will need to number your pages. Title the next few pages ‘Index’. This will become an overview of your journal.

Each page in your journal will be given a subject and these subjects are known as ‘Collections’. The main types are future log, monthly log and daily log.

  • Future Log - This is where you write down events for the forthcoming months. Title the next four pages ‘Future Log’. You can divide your pages horizontally into sections and then label Jan, Feb, Mar and so on. It is also useful to keep a blank page for events and tasks that are upcoming, but don’t as yet are not time specific.
  • Monthly Log - This consists of two facing pages; the calendar page and the tasks page. Title the left page with the month and list the dates. This is where you will write down events that happened or notes and title the right page ‘tasks’. This will be a list of those tasks you want to complete this month and any tasks carried over from previous months.
  • Daily Log - This is used on a daily basis and is the ‘meat’ of your journal. The topic of these pages will be the date.

Remember, ‘collections’ can take any form, they are a group of related ideas. Collections can be anything from goal plans to brainstorming, sketches to doodles. It can be anything you desire.

The next part is ‘Bullets’ and Signifiers’. Bullets are essentially your notes in short form and signifiers add context, for example a ‘*’ could mean a priority a ‘£’ could mean buy something.

  • ‘Bullets’ - Task bullets are indicated by a dot (.) and as you work through your task bullets, they will turn into ‘completed’ marked with an ‘X’, ‘scheduled’ so events in the future will be marked with ‘<’ or ‘migrated’, those tasks which have not yet been completed and moved to another collection, will be marked with a ‘>’.
  • Event Bullets are indicated with an ‘O’ and are date specific. These would be added to your Future Log, Monthly Log or Daiy Log.
  • Note Bullets are indicated by a ‘-’. These are notes you want to remember such as thoughts, inspiration, ideas etc
  • ‘Signifiers’ - Placed to the left of a bullet and give an at a glance view of what the bullets represent. For example, * = priority, ! = inspiration

Still following! So the final part is

  • ‘Migration’ - this is where you move undone tasks and migrate to a new monthly log, assess and remove if a task is no longer needed or schedule to the future log. Migration is carried out at the end of the month when preparing the next month’s log.
  • Migrate scheduled events and tasks from the future log to the new monthly log.

Once you have grasped the principles of the Bullet Journal it is an awesome tool that you can keep as simple or as complex as you like. Just enjoy!

Conclusion

So that's it for our 8 types of journaling...At the end of the day your journal can be whatever you want it to be.

You don’t have to write about your innermost thoughts and feelings, it can be filled with photos, doodles, daydreams. You don’t have to fill out every page, every day, just pick it up when you need to. Most important of all is to relax, unwind and have fun.

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