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July 08, 2024

11 Realistic Self-Care Journaling Ideas (These Are Better Than Bubble Baths)

Yop & Tom

Self-care culture’s gotten a bit of a bad reputation recently. There’s a big misconception that if you just take a few more bubble baths, your problems will be cured by bath foam and candles. 

Or, it’s a  pressure to spend more than you’re perhaps able to. Buying more luxury items in the desperate hope that the next purchase will make you feel better. 

But we know self-care is so much more than the hype. It’s about the rarest of things -putting yourself first and giving yourself what you need.And journaling can help you do that.

white bed linen near window. Photo by Sarah Brown on Unsplash

What is self-care journaling?

Self-care journaling is any form of journaling that makes you feel good about yourself, helping you take care of your mental health and feed your soul.

It can be monumental or tiny. The only essential is that it nudges you to take care of yourself. So you put yourself first (for once) and do the things that bring you joy. 

Something that’s easier said than done in an all too busy world, where  cultural norms associate rest with laziness and love with never saying no.

Here’s how to start self-care journaling

Deep breaths, because this one’s a bit frustrating.  There’s no perfect formula for self-care journaling.Instead, it’s about building your own.

You need to find the unique things that bring you joy and add them into your life in a way that feels comfortable and accessible to you. But… thegood news is that there are a few key ingredients that can help you out along the way.

“Self-care can only benefit a person if it is consistent with their goals and values.”

Zishan Khan, MD

Step 1: Get your journal ready

You can use any type of journal for your self-care journaling practice. If written word is more your thing, then a  lined notebook’s your best bet. But if you’re a bit more artsy and prefer to go outside the lines, then take a look at the  dot grid options.

Whichever type of journal you pick, we recommend it’s in a  colour that brings you joy! That way, you’ll be starting your self-care practice before you even get to the first page.

Step 2: Pick up your pen

Just like with your journal, a colourful pen can add a little extra sunshine to your self-care practice. Lucky for you, we’ve got the perfect one right  here.

Step 3: Choose your self-care style

There are so many different ways to journal for your self-care. So how do you know where to begin?

Easy. Just choose the style that naturally appeals to you the most. It doesn’t have to be perfect, it just has to pique your interest enough to give it a go (pssst: you’ll find plenty of self-care journaling ideas below).

Step 4: Set your reminder to begin

Choosing to begin and actually beginning are two very different things. Set a reminder in your phone or schedule some time in your calendar to start your self-care practice. 

And remember, once you start to feel the benefits this will become far easier to stick to!

smiling woman in blue denim jacket. Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

11 self-care journaling ideas to get you started

1. Self-care lists

If you’re a fan of organisation like us, you’ll love a good to-do list. But this is a  to-do list with a difference. 

There’s no drudgery. There’s no “omg I’ve got so much to do”. Instead, it’s just pure joy. This is a list filled with the things that make you feel good. 

From taking a long bath (yes, they do help sometimes) to booking that therapy appointment and giving yourself 20 minutes to read your favourite  book. It all helps you feel that little bit more cared for.

2. A bank of joy

This is essentially the ultimate self-care to-do list. You’re going to write a giant list of all the things that help you care for yourself. 

Then, when you find your self-care waning and need a simple break, you’ve got a bank of joy to dip into. Just choose one activity and add it to your day.

3. Sunshine folder

When someone gives you praise - whether it’s at school, your colleagues at work or one of your best mates - there’s a fleeting moment where it feels great. But then, the moment passes. You forget what they said and self-doubt rears its ugly head again.

Your sunshine folder is about making that moment last. You’ll log all your praise and positive reviews from other people. So next time you’re having a dip of confidence, you can bring that glow back to life just by opening your journal.

4. Time-blocking your self-care

How often do you fall to the bottom of your own to-do list? You mean to go to the gym to get those feel-good endorphins after work, but end up working late. Again. 

We all do it. 

Time-blocking reserves a spot in your diary that’s just for you. No meetings can be booked in. no extra tasks can be added. Instead, it’s your space to give yourself exactly what you need.

5. Essential to-do lists vs nice-to-do lists

When you’re in a state of anxiety or overwhelm, every task feels urgent. It’s as though there’s nothing that can be dropped off your plate. Instead, you have to work longer and harder to get it all done. And only then can you relax.

Your essential to-do list gets you past that. You’ll write down all the tasks that must be done. Before looking at the ones that are just “extras”. And yes, self-care is an essential task.

6. Mental health journaling

Getting all those tangled-up thoughts out of your head and onto the page, where they can be ironed out, acknowledged and supported is a form of self-care.

Sometimes, self-care is about doing the work and processing those trickier emotions. Mental health journaling is perfect for that. 

7. Self-care habit tracking

Try adding all those things that make you feel good into a  habit tracker. The little things that make you feel better on a daily basis. From getting outside to drinking more water, going to bed early and leaving your phone untouched for the first hour of the day.

You could even set yourself a target to hit each week and see how you feel at the end.

8. Gratitude journaling

You might know that we have mixed feelings about  gratitude journaling. In our view? It’s about training your mind to seek out the good, even in challenging times. But rest assured, youdon’t have to block out the bad either.

Instead, try to find a quiet moment at the end of the day to write about one good thing that happened and what allowed it to be. Can you add a little more of it into your day tomorrow too?

9. Make a plan

Planning can be self-care if overwhelm’s got you frozen in inaction.

It might be planning moments for yourself (especially useful when your kids or your work is taking over your schedule). Or just planning your path through the chaos. 

Whatever it is, sitting down with your favourite drink and 15 minutes to  put a plan together can be just the self-care moment you need.

10. Positive affirmations and reminders

This is essentially inspiration journaling. Where you use your self-care journal to bring together all the things that inspire you. 

From quotes to song lyrics, movie moments, recipes and everything in between. Keep a note of the things that make you happy to remind yourself why you’re doing this thing in the first place.

11. Conversations with friends journaling

Know that feeling when you head home from seeing your friends and just feel better about yourself? Your self-care journal can help that feeling last.

Write down the things that made you feel that way. What did they do or say? What didyou do or say?

Store them - a bit like you would with a mini memory journal - to refer back to time after time again.


By now you’ll know that self-care journaling is open to interpretation. It doesn’t have to be rigid or conventional. It’s about doing things your way and making yourself feel good. That’s it!

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