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The idea of journaling sounds so idyllic. Sitting alone with an empty notebook in a grassy field, thoughts and feelings pouring out onto the page—it’s a scene straight out of a teen drama. However, for many (myself included), free journaling can be a daunting task. Personally, all my attempts to journal have turned into crafting tomorrow’s to-do list or random doodles, and I know I’m not the only one. Could guided journals be the answer?
These journals, which are typically geared toward a range of goals, interests, and purposes, often include prompts, mantras, and reflections to guide your writing. Rather than staring at a blank page before you—we’re looking at you, Natasha Bedingfield—guided journals provide structure and cues to make it easier to get the jumble of words in your brain onto the page.
The benefits of journaling are plentiful. Putting pen to paper on a regular basis can decrease stress, and help manage anxiety and depression. But the rewards go beyond your mental health. Expressive writing can also improve your memory and reduce negative thoughts. Why is this significant? Reducing the presence of negative thoughts in your head leaves you better equipped to handle stress in your life.
See also: Build a Journaling Starter Kit
5 guided journals to kickstart your journaling practice
Ready to get started with your own guided journal? Whether you’re looking for prompts to guide you toward your career goals, help you manage interpersonal relationships, or combat that ever-present stress, you’ll find a guided journal best suited to your needs. Here, we’ve included some of our favorites.
Looking for a guided journal that will help you manifest those career goals? Written by Dr. Colleen Campbell, a career coach based in California, this journal allows you to put those professionals aspirations to paper. Regardless of whether you’re just starting your professional life or you’re looking for a career change, this journal can help you think about where you want to go and how you can get there. This journal includes both prompting questions and career-focused exercises. $16.95
Trying to get all of your emotions out onto paper but have no clue where to start? Consider working with The Anti-Anxiety Notebook. Designed by therapists, this journal will help you process different events—and the emotions that arise from them—by giving you helpful prompts, probing questions, and space for reflection. This journal uses Cognitive Behavioral Therapy techniques—similar to those you may experience during a therapy session. $38
Only have about five minutes to spare? No problem—there’s a journal for that. The Five Minute Journal gives you the space to reflect on your day, process your emotions, and keep a daily record in less time than it takes you to do, well, most things. Each daily entry includes prompts to share what you’re grateful for, good things that happened, daily affirmations, and what could have gone better. Five minutes will never fly by so fast. $24.95
We know that practicing gratitude is good for us. But actually setting aside time to write down what we’re grateful for? It can be a difficult routine to stick to. Luckily, this gratitude journal from Ink + Volt helps guide you through a daily gratitude practice. With prompts, exercises, and tons of blank pages for free writing, you’ll find yourself feeling a little happier, freer—and well, more grateful. Plus, this journal comes with weekly challenges, so you won’t get bored of your daily practice. $24.50
If you’re looking to write down everything (hello, brain dump), this is the guided journal for you. This journal includes prompts pertinent to your wellness-related adventures—from your self-care practices to your meals—as well as space for daily reflections. This journal is the perfect combination of part to-do list and part guided reflection. If you’re looking for a space to put your day on paper (in a very beautiful and organized way), this is the guided journal for you. $37.99