4 Types of Journals You Can Keep for Self-Reflection and Clarity


Dear diary,

Today was a fairly productive day. I delivered the presentation, which was positively received and completed most of my to-do list. Bob annoyed the hell out of me and it took everything for me not to cuss him! He is just so inept and I really have no idea how he got the job. Seriously! Anyway, I’m going to have a long soak in the bath and an early night. It’s needed!

This is often what comes to mind when people think about journaling.

While documenting daily events or pouring your heart and soul onto the pages of a diary is probably the most recognised type of journaling, there are many other types of journals you can keep.

Here are 4 different types of journals you can try as part of a regular practice:


A Classic “free flow” Journal


This is probably the most common type of journaling and you may have kept something during your childhood.

Often there is no structure to follow. You just write and let your words fill the page.

This is sometimes referred to as “free flow” or “freewriting”.

At its simplest, entries are similar to my example above – a record of your daily events, briefly mentioning any thoughts or feelings.

But a “free flow” journal can also be much more than a collection of daily reports.

Today was a fairly productive day. I set out to write 3 blog posts and completed 2 drafts. The fact that I can even call that a “fairly” productive day is progress. This time last year I’d be calling myself every name under the sun for not doing what I set out to do. But I’m getting so much better at acknowledging my achievements rather than focusing on my flaws. And now even that word “flaw” has a different meaning for me. It’s more like an opportunity to grow and learn rather than something that is fundamentally wrong with me. I still have frequent moments of self-doubt and shrink when I feel like I’m stepping too close to the limelight, but baby steps right?

The example above is closer to what an entry in my journal looks like.

I do sometimes mention things I’ve achieved or done but it’s mainly about expressing and exploring my feelings, thoughts and emotions.

Journaling is a powerful tool for releasing negative emotions, acknowledging fears, gaining clarity and healing.

That is what my journal has been for me.

It can also be a great place to brain dump or vent.

My journal is my confidant.

It is a safe space where I can be completely honest, authentic and fully self-expressed without fear of judgement.

It enables me to tap into my intuition and inner voice.


A Gratitude Journal

This can be a journal all on its own, or it can be combined with “free flow” journaling.

Gratitude journaling involves regularly taking time to consider everything you are grateful for and then writing those things down.

Keeping a gratitude journal is a great way of staying present in your life.

We all have crap days when nothing seems to be going our way.

On these days, it can be easy to quickly go from having a bad day to believing you have a bad life, especially if you spend some time scrolling through social media.

Writing down all the things you are grateful for brings you back to reality and helps you regain perspective.

You can also flick through previous gratitude journal entries to remind you just how abundant your life is and feel inspired to start the new day on a positive note.


A Dream Journal

This is great for people who regularly remember their dreams.

Years ago I didn’t give dreams a second thought.

I didn’t think I even had them and when I did once in a blue moon, it was usually a nightmare.

But then I found out that I do actually dream, I just don’t remember them very often.

This makes sense as I’m an incredibly deep sleeper and like most people, as soon as I started working life, I was woken out of my sleep abruptly by an alarm.

I began to notice that the times I did remember my dreams was when I was away on holiday. Which also happened to be when I woke up naturally without an alarm.

I still don’t know much about dream interpretation, but in ancient cultures, it’s believed that we receive important messages from our dreams.

So if you’re someone who regularly remembers your dreams, it is worth writing them down.

Over time you may be able to better understand any messages or themes in your dreams.

It is best to keep your journal by your bed and write everything you remember as soon as you wake up.


A Meditation Journal

Meditation has been around for centuries and it is now more popular than ever.

And for good reason.

Scientific research shows the numerous benefits of meditation with one study even suggesting that its effects rivalled antidepressants with regards to managing the symptoms of depression.

Meditation can be a time when a lot of thoughts become louder or more prominent.

It can also be a time when you gain insight or clarity on areas of your life.

Therefore it can be very useful and interesting to keep a journal to accompany your meditation practice.

You can write before and after meditating or immediately after you’ve finished your session.

It is advisable to keep your journal next to you and write everything you remember as soon as you come out of the meditation.


Journaling is an excellent tool for self-reflection and clarity. With a regular practice, you are able to notice negative thought patterns and unhealthy habits and behaviour.

It is also a great way to uncover your core values and beliefs and explore your life goals.

Having separate notebooks for the different types of journals is not necessary. You can keep all your journal writing in one place or you can have multiple notebooks.

The choice is yours.

As there are many different types of journals you can keep, the key is to experiment and find what works for you.


Journal prompt: What type of journal do I feel most drawn to?

Affirmation: Today I am blessed with absolute clarity.


Image Credit: Unsplash

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