Journaling can take any shape or form you would like it to, however traditionally, it is simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to release them or to gain clarity, understanding and make sense of them more readily. The beauty of journaling is that there are no right or wrong ways to journal and the benefits can be numerous, especially if you struggle with stress, anxiety, depression, or loneliness.
A journal can help you to tell your story, to record the events of your day-to-day life, the challenges, the successes, your goals, your plans and might include anything at all that you find inspirational such as meaningful words, quotes, pictures, articles, photographs, recipes, drawings, compliments etc. There is no need to worry about spelling or correct sentencing, the journal is just for you and can be written any time and at any point you choose to check in with your journal. There are no rules.
Starting to journal is easy, find a notebook of your choice, simple or decorative, just one that you feel suits you and begin. Make it your own. Digital journaling works just as effectively if this suits you better, however, remember to consider the security and storage of any digital or personal private items. Make the decision about what you would generally like to achieve from journaling. Is it simply to write down the events of your day, or do you want to explore the deeper thoughts and feelings of your story?
The mental health benefits of journaling are well documented and journaling can lead to a decrease in emotional distress. There are some criticisms too, such as journaling may encourage you to place your focus on any negative thoughts and feelings you may be experiencing, keeping you in that negative space for longer than needed which may be unhelpful, however if those thoughts and feelings are there, it may be beneficial to release them by journaling and balancing this by introducing a structure to your journal, hence enabling a section for offloading and reflection, a section noting things that have gone well, a section to mark achievements and successes (however small) a gratitude section, and a section which allows you to write about goals and things you are looking forward to.
The choices are endless, be creative. If you think that journaling may help you, give it a go!