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How to journal like a pro

You may think keeping a diary is a relic of the past, but the traditional methods of journaling have expanded *so* much since your fifth grade rage pages. All forms of this practice can make you more in tune with your emotions, help you track progress and reach goals, find inspo and gain self-confidence. Plus, it can even be super fun. Time to level up your journaling game, big time. 

What to buy


Ok, let's get down to business. There are so many ways to journal, both digitally and physically. If you're going the traditional paper route, you can truly choose any notebook you can find (but if you need a rec, we heart these adorable options from Grab some colored pens, highlighters and washi tape, and all your aesthetic journaling dreams will come true. If an online diary is more your speed, keep a running Google Doc of all your thoughts and ideas. Next step: figure out how to fill those intimidating empty pages.

Use it as a record of your memories


You may think your life right now is totally boring, but trust us—you'll want to remember today's thoughts and interactions later down the road. If writing isn't your thing, no worries. You can include physical reminders of your days instead. Think: ticket stubs from movies and concerts, the gum wrapper your friend folded into a heart, a newspaper clipping about your basketball team's big win. Not only will your journal will become a keepsake of time, but it can help you process and reflect on life events. 

Practice gratitude 


All your probs throughout teenagehood can be super overwhelming, and negative emotions often feel more amplified than positive ones. The good news is, there are ways to combat the onslaught these emotions. Try writing in a gratitude journal. When you search for and jot down things that bring you joy, your focus will shift toward the good in your life, instead of the bad. Through prompts like these, your morale will improve, and you'll be more hopeful and grounded. What's not to love? 

Chronicle your dreams


Picture this: you're gliding through rolling tulip fields, hand-in-hand with Timothée Chalamet, the sun smiling down on you. Then, all of a sudden, you're awake. Dreams can feel awfully real (or awfully strange) sometimes, but it can be a struggle to remember *just* what Timmy's hair looked like framed by those tulips. That's where the journal comes in. Try writing down every detail of your dream directly after you wake up (you'll remember it best at this time). Your unconscious thoughts can act as a key into your inner psyche (check out a dream decoder here!) and give you a fun topic of convo to bring up at your lunch table. It's a win-win!

Share with friends


Whether your besties live 400 miles or 400 steps away, creating a shared journal can be a fab insight into each others' lives. You can scribble notes to each other, chronicle your day, start a drawing and have your BFF finish it and so much more. We promise you, anyone will enjoy completing a fill-in-the-blank story written by yours truly.

Stay organized


Planners are great in theory, but sometimes they can fall flat in the practicality department. Usually, there isn't a ton of space for the lengthy ideas and lists that every gal needs. Instead, use your journal as a place to store to-do lists, pro and con lists, party plans or anything else that will keep you extra organized this semester. 

Become a professional critic


Who says we can't *all* work for Rotten Tomatoes? If you find yourself itching to get down your thoughts on movies like Everything, Everywhere, All At Once, you aren't alone. Convert your journal into a place for all your opinions on the movies, TV shows, music and books you're consuming. These scribblings can serve as a jumping off point for your next Goodreads review, an opinion piece for the school newspaper or your next catch-up with grandma. 

Be consistent


The best journalers are the ones who keep up their routines. Incorporating daily journaling can be super beneficial to your mindfulness and mental well-being, but even adding to it a couple times a week can make a significant difference in your life. Happy journaling!

What's your go-to journal prompt? Let us know @girlslifemag on Twitter!

Slider image: @notcoy


by Julia Szymanski | 5/27/2023