April 22, 2023

Learning how to start a journaling habit is easier than you think.

With this habit, a notebook isn’t even required and it will take you less than 60 seconds each day to complete. Not only is it simple, but it’s also effective in improving your mood.

What is a really simple way to start a journaling habit?


Does using one-word really count as a journaling habit?

Yes, it does! In Words Can Change your Brain, Andrew Newberg and Mark Waldman explain:

A single word has the power to influence the expression of genes that regulate physical and emotional stress. By focusing on a single word or intention, you can activate the parts of your brain that help improve your feelings about yourself and others.

How do I choose one word to start my journaling habit?

If you’re waiting for me to tell you what that one word is, I can’t. The simple way to start a journaling habit isn’t a magic word that I provide to you like: write. The one word is something that you come up with every single day that describes how you want to feel that day.

Today, that word might be INSPIRED. This post might inspire you to start a journaling habit and you might spend the rest of the day noticing inspirational quotes. Or, you might notice that you see what people are doing using a different lens.

Tomorrow, you might have a day filled with boring meetings or tasks that you are dreading, and you might write something like OPEN to describe how you want to try to be less negative and at least open to the possibility that there might be something good to come from all of these tasks.

The word could be the same every day - like GRATEFUL. Or it could change every day. You might notice that throughout the month, there are some words that show up several times. That’s interesting - just notice that.

Here are some tips for how to start your one-word journaling habit

To start this simple journaling habit,

  1. Spend a few seconds each morning thinking about a feeling that you would like to have for that day
  2. Jot that word down somewhere.

I prefer to do it in my planner. But you can write it on a sheet of paper, a stack of post-it notes, at the top of your dry-erase board, in lipstick on your bathroom mirror, - honestly, it does not matter. Just actually write it down. There’s a difference between thinking about the word and actually writing it down.

The Results

Once you actually write that word down - you have started a journaling habit. If you do it for a whole month, you become a person who journals. Also, if you miss a day or a few days, just jump back in - your journal has no official rules and won’t judge you for being inconsistent and neither will I.

For the days you practice this journaling habit, seeing the word as you go about your daily life becomes an anchor for the day. As regular stressors pop up throughout the day, it becomes a word that you can attach to a deep breath.

Try it - think of a way that you want to feel today (or use mine - JOYFUL), take a big breath in, hold it for four seconds and as you breath out, say the one word in your head as you take a big breath out.


That’s it. Keeping a record of a one-word intention is by far the simplest way to start a journaling habit and I’m willing to bet you get far more out of it than you are expecting.

About the Author

Jen Taylor, LCSW-C, RPT-S is an EMDR Approved Consultant and Certified Journal to the Self Instructor.  She is a therapist specializing in complex trauma, an international play therapy teacher and a published writer of multiple play therapy chapters.  Jen is the creator of the original 2017 Play Therapy Summit and many other innovative programs for mental health professionals.  Jen uses writing therapy, play therapy and expressive arts for her clients and for other mental health professionals so they can lead more joyful and meaningful lives.  Jen encourages people to try new things and create daily habits that allow for incremental progress towards previously unimaginable results.   Jen is a travel enthusiast, an avid reader, and a girl who lifts weights and runs for fun.  

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