How Mindful Journaling Can Help Your Daily Practice

There’s a robust body of research that shows mindful journaling can be a powerful tool for insight, clarity, healing, and well-being. Here’s why you should try it (even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer”). The post How Mindful...

How Mindful Journaling Can Help Your Daily Practice

There’s a robust body of research that shows mindful journaling can be a powerful tool for insight, clarity, healing, and well-being. Here’s why you should try it (even if you don’t consider yourself a “writer”).

By Siri Myhrom May 24, 2024 Focus

This article is independently researched and written by the Mindful editors. However, we may earn revenue or commission upon purchase of products mentioned and/or linked within the article.

Journaling is a simple and versatile tool that’s been shown to boost mental, emotional, and even physical well-being.

As part of a regular mindfulness routine, mindful journaling can be a wonderful companion to activities like meditation, breathwork, gratitude practices, or daily affirmations.

Let’s explore five main benefits of mindful journaling, along with four different ways you can use journaling to improve mood, reduce stress, and grow your mindful awareness. 

5 Benefits of Mindful Journaling

There’s a surprising amount happening in the brain when we put pen to paper, and more than 30 years of clinical research has shown that a mindful writing practice has wide-ranging benefits.

It’s a proven stress and anxiety reliever. Writing focuses our attention, because we can only write about one thing at a time. In this process of slowing down, our breathing regulates, our thoughts become less jumbled, and we experience the release of giving voice to what we might have been holding in. Often just naming an experience or emotion has the effect of bringing more calm. 
It helps us get clarity and find meaning. One of the most powerful healing tools we have at our disposal as humans is our innate tendency to mine experiences for patterns and meaning. We’ve been storytellers for thousands of years.

When we tell our stories through mindful journaling, we more easily notice patterns in our thinking or our behavior. We practice being curious instead of judgmental about ourselves. We make connections and are open to insights that might not be immediately apparent when we’re right in the middle of tough situations. When we can integrate what we’ve experienced into our overall perspective on life, it allows us to create a kind of coherence. It’s not that we’re seeking easy bow-on-top answers to complicated or painful events; it’s that we can start to fully accept what has happened and identify the ways in which challenges have made us wiser, kinder, and more resilient.

It improves markers of physical well-being. The act of writing is so potent in part because it activates different areas of the brain where we are experiencing emotions and using language to name and understand what we’re feeling. This intentional and active communication across emotional and cognitive functions results in an increase in activity in the prefrontal cortex and a reduced activity in the amygdala, which helps us calm reactivity and gain a healthy kind of distance from emotionally-charged events.

When we calm reactivity, we’re reducing stress, and the inflammation that accompanies stress. Studies show that writing about difficult events over time has several positive health outcomes: blood pressure goes down, breathing regulates, sleep gets better, and immune function improves.

It improves working memory. It’s probably intuitive that writing things down helps us to remember them—both because we’re creating a record we can refer back to, and also because we’re solidifying memories when we recall them and process them in writing. But there’s another memory-related benefit to mindful journaling: in this process of recalling and labeling our emotions, we’re able to reclaim cognitive resources that would otherwise go into things like anxious thought-loops or intrusive or avoidant thought patterns, and put that energy back into our working memory. In other words, by reducing the stressful load of un-dealt-with emotions, we’re freeing up mental space.
It turbo-charges awareness and gratitude. As with other mindful practices, the keener our attention becomes, the more we start to pick up on all the shimmering moments in our days that we often pass over in a blur. And the more we notice…well, the more we notice. The physical act of writing down moments of gratitude reignites the memory and the feeling in our brains, so it’s like we get to experience the sweetness all over again.

4 Ways You Can Use Mindful Journaling

Journaling is an effective resource for growing mindful awareness in part because it is so versatile and so flexible.

Here are four (of many!) ways that you can incorporate mindful journaling into an existing constellation of practices.
Identify an area of personal growth—such as gratitude, attention, or self-compassion—and use journaling as a way to nurture and practice creating a new mental habit.
Reflect on things that come up for you during your mindfulness meditation practice. Sitting in quiet tends to bring up thoughts, feelings, and memories that we’ve previously tried to avoid with noise or numbing. Mindful journaling can be especially helpful if you have a recurring memory or distraction that surfaces when you are in silence.
Focus on a particular event that you’d like to process. You might be facing a major life transition, or you might have just gone through a serious loss—mindful journaling can help bring perspective, clarity, and greater self-compassion. 
Combine journaling with other forms of mindful creative expression, like drawing, movement, or music.
As you consider when and how to use mindful journaling, it’s important to remember that it doesn’t matter if you’re a “writer” or not. Sometimes people resist starting a journaling practice because they don’t see themselves as writers. But the truth is, journaling can be great for anyone. The power of the process is in simply sitting with your own thoughts and paying attention to moments in your day, and then recording them in whatever way works for you, whether that’s bullet points, accompanying doodles, or lengthy sentences. There really is no right or wrong way to do it, and there’s a lot of room for your unique way of expressing yourself to shine through.

Mindful Living Journal

In collaboration with our friends at, we’ve created the Mindful Living Journal. This beautifully-bound, 144-page guide offers a gentle structure for exploration, awareness, and personal growth.  

Inside you’ll find the perfect balance of guidance and freedom: lots of space to write, helpful prompts if you need them, access to accompanying guided meditations, science-backed mindful tips, and places to track sleep, mood, and gratitude.