The best journals to develop a daily practice of self-reflection, creative thought processing, gratitude and anti-anxiety habits for well-being.

By now we’ve likely had some time to become familiar with our habits after our routines have changed over the past year. Hopefully, throughout the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve had a chance through the highs and lows to make positive changes that we can continue to practice for a better approach to personal wellness. Small joys have become at times monumental—being able to see friends and family in person, shopping at a farmers’ market, enjoying an outdoor space— but there are still lasting psychological effects from a pandemic that we might be feeling. One way to stay present and actively processing without belabouring the point is through journaling. For those who felt an aversion to printed plastic covered diaries with a tiny lock and key, or never felt called to keep a daily journal, the writing we’re thinking of is less dear diary and more putting daily thoughts to paper and exploring our psyche the same way we engage ourselves with a beauty routine or bedtime ritual.

Perhaps the most comprehensive journal, and one of our faves, is the Anti-Anxiety Notebook. Developed by therapists, the notebook is based on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), and helps to track emotions, become more aware of thought patterns, and the relationship between the two, empowering us to challenge and adjust our mindsets over time. CBT is based on the idea that how we think (cognition), how we feel (emotion) and how we act (behavior) all interact together. Specifically designed to reduce anxiety and manage stress, this journal is meant for use whenever you feel the need for a mental health boost.

Many journals tie in with self care routines, like Wilde House Paper’s offerings. The Day Journal, and it’s counterpart, the Night Journal are designed with a simple layout that guides the reader/writer through a quick, ideal day or night routine, depending on the cover chosen—either black or white. For those who are more list-oriented, or tend to have multi-tasker minds, Wilde House Paper also makes a Self Reflections Notepad for use throughout the day. The minimal pad is designed to be kept on hand to jot down and consolidate thoughts, emotions, plans and goals for reflection.

The Five Minute Journal by Intelligent Change offers a gentle but structured approach. With guided exercises intended to lead us down a path toward an enhanced version of ourselves, this journal focuses on shifting state of mind to optimism, elevating self and improving relationships. Offered in six different colors, Intelligent Change also makes a kid’s version for the littles, as well as an app version for those who prefer a smartphone to pen and paper. Another daily practice that helps shift the mind towards optimism is gratitude. We love brightly colored options for a sunny reminder that invites to get to started.