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How to Keep a Mindfulness Journal

 a single dandelion for meditation

Mindfulness is a popular technique to help you feel calmer, as well as many other benefits, by encouraging you to focus on the present moment, and keeping a mindfulness journal can be a very helpful tool to begin enjoying the benefits of this simple but powerful practice.

What is mindfulness?

The aim of mindfulness is to bring awareness to the present moment while allowing one's feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations to be acknowledged and accepted with calmness and acceptance. The goal of mindfulness is to live more fully in the present and to be less reactive to things that happen in life. Mindfulness can be cultivated through practices like meditation, yoga, or journaling.

What are the benefits of mindfulness?

Reducing Stress and Anxiety

Mindfulness has been shown to be an effective way to reduce stress and anxiety. One reason may be that mindfulness helps you to focus on the present moment, rather than worrying about the past or future. Mindfulness can also help you to accept your thoughts and feelings, rather than trying to fight them or ignore them.

Reduced Rumination and Negative Thinking

Mindfulness has been shown to help reduce rumination and negative thinking. One possible explanation for this is that mindfulness helps people to be more aware of their thoughts and emotions and to notice when they are getting caught up in negative cycles of thinking. Mindfulness can also help people to accept their thoughts and feelings without judgment, which can stop a destructive pattern of negativity. There are some interesting studies about the effectiveness of using mindfulness-based cognitive therapy rather than traditional cognitive therapy for reducing rumination and negative thinking in people with recurrent depression.

Increased Focus and Attention

There are a few ways that mindfulness can help to increase focus and attention. First, mindfulness can help to clear the mind of distractions and allow for a more focused state. Second, mindfulness can help to improve attention span by teaching people how to focus on one task at a time. Finally, mindfulness can help to improve concentration by teaching people how to stay focused on a task for an extended period of time.

Improved Sleep Quality

There are many ways that mindfulness can improve sleep quality. One way is that mindfulness can help to reduce stress and anxiety, which are known to interfere with sleep. Mindfulness can also help to improve sleep hygiene habits, such as avoiding caffeine and alcohol before bed and establishing a regular sleep schedule. Finally, mindfulness can help to promote relaxation and peaceful thoughts before bedtime.

Increased Compassion and Empathy

When we are more mindful, we are less likely to get caught up in our own thoughts and emotions. This can help us to be more understanding and compassionate towards others, even when they are behaving in a way that we don't agree with. Also, mindfulness can help us to connect more with our own feelings and emotions. This can make us more understanding of others who may be going through a challenging time.

Greater Sense of Well-being

Mindfulness can also help you learn to accept your thoughts and feelings without judgment, which can also lead to a greater sense of well-being. This practice can foster a greater sense of well-being by teaching individuals to accept their thoughts and feelings, rather than judging or fighting against them. Mindfulness can also help people become more aware of their physical sensations, which can increase feelings of happiness and satisfaction. Additionally, mindfulness may help people connect more deeply with others, leading to a stronger sense of community and support.

How to start a mindfulness journal?

Mindfulness can be practiced in many ways, but all methods encourage practitioners to focus on the present moment. One common way to practice mindfulness is to focus on the breath. This can be done by sitting comfortably, closing your eyes, and focusing on the sensation of the breath as it enters and leaves the body. You can also practice mindfulness by paying attention to your surroundings. Notice the colors and sounds around you, and focus on how they make you feel.

There are a few different ways to keep a mindfulness journal, but the most important part is to create a schedule you can be consistent with. After you’ve practiced mindful journaling for a while you will likely decide to incorporate the practice into your day in a natural way, but it does take some consistency upfront for you to feel enough of the benefits to want to continue with it.

Find a time and place where you can sit down and write in your journal for at least 10 minutes each day. Start by focusing on your breath, and then simply write about what you're experiencing in the moment. You can write about your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Don't worry about making sense or following any particular method—just let your thoughts flow. You may choose to you a guided mindfulness journal but it isn’t necessary. There’s a place for guided journaling and also for simply allowing your thoughts to flow, much like “stream of consciousness” journaling. You could simply write a phrase or mantra over and over again, slowly and deliberately, or maybe even just one word over and over again.

If the above method feels too unstructured for you the following are also considered methods suitable for a mindfulness journal:

Doodling and Coloring for Mindfulness

Doodling and coloring can help to achieve mindfulness by providing an activity that requires focus and concentration on the present moment. They can help to improve your mood and promote relaxation. Doodling can also help you to come up with new ideas, while coloring can be calming and relaxing.

Making Lists to Journal

Making lists for mindfulness journaling can help to focus the mind and increase awareness of thoughts and feelings. The lists can act as prompts to start or continue a mindfulness meditation practice, or simply to document the day's events. When creating a list, it can be helpful to start with general categories such as "thoughts," "emotions," "sensations," "actions," etc., and then fill in specific items within those categories.

Gratitude Journaling

One way to practice mindfulness is through journaling. This involves making lists of things that you are grateful for, things that you notice in the present moment, or goals for the day. This can help you to stay focused on the present and appreciate the small things in life.

Descriptive Journaling

Descriptive journaling is a way to record your thoughts and feelings about a particular event, person, or thing. It can be used to help you process and understand what happened, or to capture the moment in all its detail. To do descriptive journaling, start by describing the physical details of the experience. What did it look like, feel like, smell like? Next, describe your emotional reaction. What was going through your mind at the time? What emotions did you feel? Did you feel scared, angry, happy, sad, or surprised? Finally, describe the action you took. Did you say something to someone? Did you do something physical like dance in your seat or put your hands up in the air?

Body Scan to Check-in with Yourself

One way to check in with yourself is to pay attention to your body and your breath. Notice if you are feeling tense or anxious, and take a few deep breaths to relax. You can also pay attention to your thoughts and feelings, and ask yourself whether they are helpful or stressful. If they feel stressful, try to let them go and focus on the present moment instead.

As you do this, notice any thoughts or feelings that arise. If there are any thoughts or feelings you don’t like, let them go and focus on the present moment instead. If you feel a strong urge to react or respond, stop yourself, and ask yourself whether this is helpful. If not, let it go and focus on the present moment instead.

Learning to keep a mindfulness journal can be a valuable resource for reflection and self-discovery. If you are interested in starting a mindfulness journal, there are many ways to get started. You can find printable pdf templates or simply begin by writing about your day-to-day experiences in your favorite notebook. The most important thing is to be consistent and to keep an open mind.

Remember the point is not to think about the past or future or try to solve a problem or pick apart an experience. The beauty of this type of journaling is the actual journey of the simple process and the inherent joy of feeling zero pressure in this very moment.

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