(Inside: Even if you HATE journaling or think it’s “woo”, this simple daily journal routine will help you get through rough days and stay focused on your goals.)
Start a journal? Puh-lease.
Like I’m a 9-year-old little girl who needs to write about how Becca the bully is tormenting me and Jake is soooooo cute and said hi to me at recess??
If this is your initial reaction to journaling, you’re not alone.
In fact, I resisted journaling for YEARS for this exact reason.
But what I found is that journaling can do incredible things for your mental health, and it doesn’t need to be bearing your soul like you did as a kid or some magical “woo” that will make all your wishes appear.
So today I’m sharing my super simple daily journal routine that I use to get through rough days, and I encourage you to give it a try.
A Simple Daily Journal Routine to Get Through Hard Days
Now, I don’t have a lot of time. I’m a full time working, homeschooling mom of six neurodivergent kids.
So I keep my journaling super simple. Otherwise, I’d be too tempted to skip it when things in life get hectic.
And when things get hectic is exactly when I need my journaling most!
My point here is, don’t let a lack of time get in your way. This whole journal routine can be done in 15 minutes (or even less).
(Related: 3 Simple Steps to Manage Anxious Thoughts)
I always start my journaling with gratitude.
My entire demeanor changes when I think about a handful of things I’m thankful for.
I don’t write big long paragraphs. That would take way too long.
This is what it looks like:
“I am thankful for…
- Hot coffee in the morning
- Cap’n M’s silly smile
- Excedrin Migraine“
It takes me thirty seconds to journal these out, but it makes a world of difference in my day.
Next, I write out an affirmation.
Now, this might seem kind of woo, but I’m not doing affirmations like “I AM A GLORIOUS WARRIOR PRINCESS. HEAR ME ROAR!”
My affirmations are typically just how I am choosing to show up that day, or a thought that I want to keep top of mind.
This might look like…
“I am a calm mom that has fun with my kids.”
“I will get the most important tasks done today while also getting rest.”
“I can prioritize self-care and focus on me today.”
Again, this takes just about 30 seconds, and it changes my entire day.
Sometimes I even copy this from my journal onto a sticky note that I put on my computer so I’m reminded of it all day long.
This is probably my favorite part of my journaling because it makes a difference over time more than anything I’ve seen.
I take a moment to write something kind about someone else.
More specifically, I pick one specific person in my life and I write something I love about them every single day.
Here’s what this looks like…
“Chris brings me food when I’m too busy to eat.”
“Chris always makes me smile when I’m stressed.”
“Chris is an incredible dad to our kids.”
This focus daily on what I love about someone helps shape my mindset around that person long-term.
When I think of them, I smile, and I quickly think of the things that I love about them. And the small things that irritate me don’t get under my skin nearly as much.
The next thing I focus on in my journal is my goals.
I do this a couple of different ways, depending on how much time I have to journal and what I’m focusing on that day.
Sometimes I list my long-term goals, other times I list my goals for the quarter or even for the month.
Then other times I get more specific and list my goals for the week or the things I’m working on that specific day.
The important thing is to spend time listing your goals by hand so that they stay top of mind.
This might look like…
“I will blog 3 times a week.”
“I will support 20 new families in Autism Journey Collective.”
“I will record a training, outline one blog post, and coach my 1:1 client.”
This time spent on my goals, whether it’s long-term or specific, helps me stay focused and making progress.
Finally, I take some time to think about my thoughts.
That sounds ridiculous, I know. But I know that thoughts are incredibly powerful, and I do my best to think my thoughts on purpose.
So the work I do here is basically getting a thought out of my head so that I can examine it and choose a new thought if I need to.
Here’s an example. In the morning I’m thinking: “I have SO much to do today I’ll never get it done”.
So I’ll journal about that thought, and, more specifically, how it makes me feel. In this case, I feel overwhelmed.
Then I take it a step further and journal about what actions I’ll likely take if I’m feeling this way all day. In this case, I’ll likely procrastinate and not finish anything.
That isn’t the outcome I’m hoping for, and while I could try to simply change the actions, it’s SO much easier to do that if I change my thought first.
So I decide on another thought I can think instead and work through how that new thought changes my results.
Let’s continue our example… Instead, I think “I can prioritize the most important things and let others slide.”
In that case, I feel empowered and in control.
And when looking at the actions I’ll likely take if I’m feeling that way, I’m more likely to get the most important things done instead of procrastinating and not doing anything.
I don’t know about you, but that second thought gets me a lot closer to where I want to be!
That’s why taking a few minutes each day to examine my thoughts is so important to me.
And with that, I’m ready to start my day.
Just to recap, the super simple journal routine to get through hard days is:
- Gratitude – Jot down a few things you’re thankful for to start your day off right.
- Affirmation – Write down a positive note you’ll focus on throughout the day.
- Kindness – Journal one specific compliment about someone you love to shape your mindset about them.
- Goals – List your long-term or short-term goals to keep them top of mind.
- Thoughts – Examine one thought to find out if it’s going to get you the results you want, and if it won’t, choose a new thought.
If you are looking for more simple journaling routines, enter your information below to get the free printable journal activity to manage anxious thoughts!
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