Bottling up your thoughts and emotions can take a toll on your mental health. Which is why journaling has long been recommended as a great way to put your thoughts down on paper, address them, and reflect on them. In fact, according to Positive Psychology, journaling can help us switch from a negative mindset to a more positive one, especially about ourselves. 

But many people don’t know where to start with journaling and find it difficult to write down their feelings on a page. Luckily, there are a number of ways you can journal, other than the typical “Dear Diary” strategy associated with teenagers. 

Here’s how to use journaling to boost your mood. 

Write down what you’re grateful for

One of the easiest ways to journal and boost your mood is by simply writing down things that you’re thankful for each day. If you have a lot of stress and worries in your life, sometimes you can forget about all of the magical things that are happening. But if you start remembering and appreciating the good parts of your life, it can help you gain a more positive outlook. 

According to a study published in Harvard Health Publishing, after 10 weeks of writing about things they were grateful for, the study participants were more optimistic and felt better about their lives. Surprisingly, they also exercised more and had fewer visits to physicians than the participants that wrote about their daily irritations. 

So, write down 3 things you’re grateful for each day—it doesn’t have to be anything life-changing either. For instance, check out the example below: 

  1. I’m thankful that it’s sunny today after 2 days of rain. 
  2. I’m grateful that I can go out to dinner with my friends tonight. 
  3. I’m thankful that I have the day off from work today. 

It’s that simple! Thinking about what you’re grateful for every day will help you appreciate more in your life, even the little things. 

Get a daily prompt journal

If you really don’t know what to write in your journal when you sit down in front of it, daily prompt journals are a great tool for you. Daily prompt journals include a number of questions or topic ideas to help inspire you. These prompts also encourage you to think about themes and issues you might not have considered before. 

For instance, the daily prompt journal The Year of You: 365 Journal Writing Prompts for Creative Self-Discovery, by Hannah Braime, includes prompts like:

  • What are the different roles you play in your life (e.g. mother, partner, sister)? List as many as you can think of. 
  • What are some of your most important rules for living?
  • How are you often misunderstood? Why do you think this is?

You can even use a daily journal app like Grid Diary which includes profound prompts that will help you reflect on yourself and your life. 

Wreck your journal

Don’t want to write at all? You can still boost your mood by “wrecking your journal.” Wreck This Journal was created by Keri Smith and was an international phenomenon with over 7 million copies sold. This type of journal includes quirky prompts that encourage you to destroy the journal by poking holes in the pages, painting pages with coffee, coloring outside the lines, and more. 

So, if you don’t want to write about your feelings, you can still boost your mood with this fun and unique creative outlet. Because the prompts in this journal are so fun and easy-to-follow, it’s great for people who struggle to keep up with the habit of journaling and completing them. 

Start blogging to make connections

Part of the appeal of journaling is that only you can read your journal; it’s private and just for you. But, sometimes it’s good to get feedback and insights from others about what you’re going through. So, consider blogging to share your thoughts and make connections with others. In fact, even though blogs are now used by people as a way to make money online or market their business, blogs started out as a form of online journaling. 

You can easily start a blog using WordPress, Tumblr, Medium, or Wix. You don’t have to share your deepest, darkest secrets if you don’t want to. Instead, you could share your thoughts on topics that interest you. 

If you’re struggling to figure out what to write about on your blog, check out these blog post ideas

  • Share your parenting tips
  • Write about your fitness journey
  • Share family recipes
  • Record your goals or share your bucket list

Remember, if you do want to share some of your deeper feelings online, you have the option of staying anonymous on your blog. Sharing your feelings anonymously can be very freeing. And you might be surprised about the number of users that will read your blog and relate to what you’re going through. 

Put pen to paper and change your thinking

Let your emotions out onto a page, whether it’s traditional paper or an online page. When you find a way to journal that works for you, it will be much easier to stick with it. So start journaling to boost your mood today.