Top self-help journals and notebooks
I love writing, particularly in pretty helpful journals.
Journaling, along with guided meditations, are my preferred self-healing tools. I find journaling relaxing and a safe place to express myself without judgment.
Journaling is an ancient tradition that a lot of people keep today. Psych Central writes:
Journaling (or keeping letters or diaries) is an ancient tradition, one that dates back to at least 10th century Japan. Successful people throughout history have kept journals. Presidents have maintained them for posterity; other famous figures for their own purposes. Oscar Wilde, 19th century playwright, said: “I never travel without my diary. One should always have something sensational to read on the train.”
Benefits of journaling
The benefits of journaling have been well documented in numerous studies.
Journaling can help you gain a better understanding of yourself and your life circumstances. It is also my preferred method to ask for help from the Universe.
Main journaling benefits:
1. It can your mental health because it can enhance your sense of well being and boost your mood.
2. It can help you clarify your feelings and become more centered and self-aware.
3. It can help you manage your stress levels by analyzing your problems and helping you shift your perspective and find the good in your life.
4. It can help you solve your problems more effectively. Ask yourself, what advice would I give my best friend if he/she was in the same situation?
5. It helps you prioritize your most significant issues so you can have a better idea of what to tackle first.
6. It leaves a written record of what you were worried or concerned about.
7. Journaling might empower you too. I love to write affirmations, “I’m doing my best. And that is enough.” Or ” I can get through this.” My success is unavoidable!”
I use affirmations tailored to the particular issue I’m writing about. If you want affirmation ideas you might find helpful these 78 daily positive affirmations. Also, journal recommendation #3 has a section to write down your affirmations daily.
8. Journaling can help you be more productive. You can reflect on your day ahead and ensure you know what you want to accomplish that day.
I love this quote by Jim Rohn:
Either you run the day, or the day runs you.
Speaking of productivity, there are many productivity journals in the market but I prefer to learn about productivity via books. You can find my favorite ones in this post: 9 Best Books on Productivity and Time Management.
Also, the Elephant Journal (#5) can help you with your productivity because it has a goals section.
What is the best journal?
The best journal will be the one that fulfills what you need the most.
What do you prefer?
- To be guided with prompts (#2, #3, and #5 would be best)
- Lined blank pages to be able to keep all your thoughts down and also have space for oracle card readings. (I love doing that, I write first what I’m concerned about and then I do an oracle reading after it. The bests journals for plenty of space to write are #6 and #7 – or any other plain notebook can similarly help you).
- Coloring and de-stressing. Coloring can be great fun to express your creativity and relieve stress (#4).
Self-Help journal prompts. How do you keep a self-improvement journal?
Not everybody needs direction or prompts for journaling, but I find prompts very useful. In case you would like some prompts to help you with your writing I have put together a list of 11 prompts.
Some of the journals I’m recommending already have prompts (#2, #5).
Before I start journaling I always do a prayer, asking for help with what I want to achieve from that session. It is good to set the intent of what we want to accomplish with it. Then I start writing:
1. What is bothering you the most at the moment? If you are upset about something, write it down and be totally honest with yourself. Try to answer why it is upsetting you so much. Even if you feel it is petty, don’t judge yourself. If you are upset, you are upset. That’s all that matters.
2. What is your greatest fear? How realistic is it?
3. What do you want to accomplish in the next 3 months, next year, and in 3 years? There is a lot of power staying in the present moment but I found it useful to think longer term, particularly when I’m in a situation that I dislike.
Instead of looking at what is not working now, I look forward to working toward the future. For example, What would be your ideal life? Your home, dream job, lifestyle. What else do you want to have or resolve: are you not getting along with someone and you want to heal that relationship? Are you spiritually fulfilled? Do you know what your life purpose is?
4. Make a plan how you are going to achieve that. Setting goals and meditating on it would be good ways.
5. Ask yourself, am I holding onto something damaging my growth? Do I need help? Are you stuck with a pattern you dislike?
6. What self-help books have you read or which guided meditations have helped you in the past? What advice do you wish you took years ago?
7. When was the time you felt the happiest? What do you need now to feel the same way?
8. What are you proud of? What have you accomplished so far? We tend to be overly negative about ourselves. Think about how far you have become.
9. Self-reflect. You can ask yourself difficult questions and expect an answer from your intuition. Should you quit your job? Should you end that troubled relationship?
The more you practice answering your own questions the more you will start trusting your intuition which is always there, ready to be tapped into. Do you remember a time you didn’t listen to your intuition and things didn’t turn out the way you expected?
10. Find reasons to be grateful (journals #1, #2 will specifically help you with that). If you don’t have them you can also start your writing in any other journal with a grateful mindset. It always helps me.
11. As yourself: I am doing enough for myself? Do I take care of myself?
I hope the prompts are useful for you. Let’s now get to exciting part of this post, find out what are the best self-help journals:
Best Self-Help Journals
1. The Secret Gratitude Book, by Rhonda Byrne
This is a very pretty journal, with great quality, and a lovely “aged” cover.
I love that every page has an affirmation relative to the law of attraction, about being grateful and successful.
It is a small book so you might run out of space very fast if you like writing lengthy content. On the other hand, I really like the smaller size because I can carry it in my handbag without taking much space or being too heavy.
Anytime that I remember something important or if I’m waiting anywhere for an appointment I pull the journal to write what I’m grateful for or something else that I might find relevant.
You might use this journal just as a separate tool to help you find things to be grateful for, and do longer journaling somewhere else (for example, with journals #6 and #7).
2. Good Days Start With Gratitude: A 52 Week Guide To Cultivate An Attitude Of Gratitude
This journal contains some prompts and great quotes.
The only thing I dislike is the lack of space to write freely. It provides a line item per thing or item you are grateful for.
It is in my list of best journals because despite the spacing constrains, it has so many nice features: an inspirational quote, space to write three things you are thankful for each day of the week, and a weekly checkpoint.
It is always good to have a daily reminder of all the blessings in our lives. Sometimes it takes daily repetition to makes us realize how fortunate we are.
This journal also provides excellent value for money, under $10 is the cheapest of them all.
3. The Five Minute Journal: A Happier You in 5 Minutes a Day
This journal is excellent for those that don’t have a lot of time but want to see changes in their lives quickly. It is broken up into two sections: a morning routine section and a night routine section.
Each day starts with a quote, 3 things you are grateful for, what would make today great, and daily affirmations to get you going.
Just the affirmations part can give you a huge boost if you remember to do them during the day.
At the end of the page there is an evening section that prompts you to write about 3 amazing things that happen that day, and how could you have made the day even better.
The Five Minute Journal lasts for 6 months of daily journaling.
The main downside for me is that it can get a bit repetitive, and there isn’t a lot of space to write. However, just 5 minutes a day of this journaling can make a profound change in your life so I totally recommend it.
I use this journal in conjunction with some of the other journals I recommend in this post. As a matter of fact, I use them all on and off depending on what I want to write about.
At the beginning of this journal it contains one of my favorite quotes of all time. I love it.
Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it. —Roald Dahl
4. Wreck This Journal, by Keri Smith
So why wreck this journal? You are prompted to express your creativity, experiment and have fun (you may tear out pages, put food in them, draw outside the lines…)
I must admit I found this journal hard to use at first. I have quite a type A personality, neat and tidy. I love things orderly and in place; how could a tear out a page or make a mess? But just for that same reason it was so good and therapeutic.
This journal will particularly help you if you find the traditional journaling hard, and you want an avenue to express your thoughts and feelings by coloring and wrecking a journal…
This journal is excellent for kids and adults.
5. Simple Elephant Planner 2020 - Gratitude, Life & Goal, Success (Blue (Undated))
This is a neat, simple planner. What I like the best is that it contains three sections:
- A few pages where you put your focus, vision board, and goals.
- The actual planner that has a week of planning every two pages (for a total of 12 months). These pages are not dated so you can start anytime and date them yourself. At the top of every page there is a small section to put your successes and what can you do better.
- A section at the back with around 25-30 blank lined pages to write whatever you want. I really like that because many times there are additional notes I want to write down that don’t belong in the planner itself.
- Lots of stickers to mark your priorities and goals
6. Soar Journal (Notebook, Diary)
I love the cover of this journal.
This journal is super simple, it doesn’t contain affirmations or prompts. It is a lined journal, with slightly thick paper.
Although it has no prompts and is the simplest of all the journals, I love it as a self-help journal because as I mentioned earlier one of the things that I enjoy best is to write letters to my guides and angels, followed by an oracle card reading to receive more guidance on the issue I wrote down.
I date the letter so I can refer back to it anytime I want in the future.
This journal has 160 pages where I can just write and write. I use it often.
If you don’t care for the cover and you want another simple journal, I own and like the following one too (#7):
7. Hardcover Notebook Journal with Line | Journal to Write In for Men & Women (Black)
The reason I got this when I also had the Soar journal described above is because I liked the built-in pen holder and inner pocket for office meetings. It has thick paper and is sturdy.
This is a great on the go journal. Simple but effective.
That’s it, all my favorite journals at the moment. I use them all as I love to write, but I’m sure you can pick just one that can fulfil your needs.
Did I miss any you use and love? Please let me know in the comments below