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  • Writer's pictureMeredith Waller

Journaling is Not One-Size Fits All

Updated: Aug 30, 2021

Every Sunday, you can find journal prompts on Rooted Wellness’ Instagram or Facebook page. These prompts are meant to help you get started exploring a specific topic, such as struggling with change, exploring your relationships, or thinking about growth. This guided form of journaling can be really helpful if there is something specific that is on your mind. Yet, we all process things differently, so -of course- one style of journaling is not going to work for everyone. If following a prompt is not for you, here are some other types of journaling you can try:

“Brain Dump”

A Brain dump is a releasing form of journaling that allows us to take all of the swirling thoughts in our mind and place them on a piece of paper. Often, this is helpful for people who feel anxious or worried, and it can be done at bedtime if you feel your thoughts keep you awake. To start, set a timer (1-5 minutes) and start releasing exactly what is filling your mind. If completing at a time other than bedtime, look over what you have written when the time is up. Is something coming up repeatedly? Are some topics connected or do you see a theme? If you are completing this before bed, take a breath and release the thoughts until morning when the time is up. Know it is all right there on the paper and will be there tomorrow, so it can leave your mind.

“Gratitude Journal”

A gratitude journal is another great tool, helping us combat negative thoughts and increase our awareness of good happening in our lives. The reason a gratitude journal is effective is similar to why affirmations have such a positive impact on our brain (read about it on the blog here); ultimately, we spend all day with our thoughts and we can create more positive or negative pathways depending on which we experience the most. Keeping a gratitude journal can be as simple as writing 3-5 things you are grateful for at the end of every day. You can also choose one thing you are grateful for to write about in-depth.

“Mood Tracker”

This year has been full of ups and downs, and that has undeniable impacts on our mental health. One way to stay in tune with your mind-body connection, and aware of how everything going on around you is impacting your mental health, is keeping a mood tracking journal. A mood tracker is a way to check in with yourself regularly and ask, “what emotions am I feeling today?”, “where is my stress level?”, “how am I sleeping/eating?”, “how are my interactions with those around me?”, “have I been consuming more alcohol/substances?”, “what external things are affecting me?”. Day to day, we don’t always notice small changes in our answers to these questions, but tracking it over a course of time can tell us a lot about what increases and decreases our mood.

“Journaling To Others”

Sometimes the things we want to process are our relationships with other people. There is definitely a benefit to processing our thoughts about relationships through free writing or releasing stress from relationships through a brain dump, and another strategy is writing a note to someone without the intention of ever sharing it. Similar to the releasing benefits of a brain dump, writing to someone allows us to say what we want to say, express our feelings and/or frustrations, and intentionally spend time acknowledging the impact a situation/ relationship is having on us. By putting all of this onto paper, we free it from our mind and can reveal truths we may not uncover if we had to consider how someone would react reading the note.


Finally, a very versatile and helpful form of journaling is making lists. The great thing about list journaling is that you can choose a new topic/focus for your list every day and cover a lot of different topics. For example, you could make lists about what is making you happy currently, what you want to work on, habits you want to keep, habits you want to break, goals for the month, and so on. If you are someone who loves to check boxes off of your to-do list, this may be the perfect way to tune into your thoughts in a goal-oriented manner.


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