My Journals: Managing Physical & Emotional Health (2014)

In response to special requests, I am sharing a look at my journals this week.  While journaling might not seem outwardly related to organization, when I started to really think about it, I realized that journaling is a powerful tool I use to keep on top of both my physical and emotional health.  That sounds like personal organization to me!  I keep a number of journals that I use for various purposes, each of which are detailed below.

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Personal Journal

I’ve kept a personal journal with some frequency since I was about eight years old.  Twenty-three years later I’m still reaping the benefits of writing!  I use this as a place to express my feelings, work through difficult emotions, and record important events and milestones.  I don’t write in my personal journal on a consistent basis, just when I feel like it.  I’ve been using Moleskine Volant Large Ruled Notebooks for the past couple of years as my journals of choice.  I truly love this brand (as you’ll see by my loyalty across the board for all of my journals).  The Volant line in particular is great because they are well made, reasonably priced notebooks that come in a set of two in a nice variety of colors with ruled or plain pages.  I love how lightweight and portable they are.  Plus, I really like the kind of paper in them, which is smooth and easy to write on.

Health Journal

Over the past year I have started keeping a more detailed health journal to help me keep track of my general well being.  I started this journal early last summer when I was experiencing some minor but chronic health issues.  While I have since gotten a handle on those issues, I have found that good health is something I have to actively pursue.  I don’t write in this journal on any sort of regular basis, really just when something of note comes up, but it does prove to be a valuable resource when I need to discuss my health with doctors and other health practitioners.  Again, I use a Moleskine Volant Large Ruled Notebook for this.  I also like to color code in my health journal and use a set of my favorite pens called Le Pen by Marvy.

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Food & Fitness Journal

I’ve kept a log-style journal of my eating and exercise habits off and on for over nine years now.  I find this is an excellent tool to keep on top of my nutrition.  It also comes in handy when I am training for a race or if I’m experiencing any health problems that could be food-related.  Most of all, this journal helps me stay on track by being accountable and helps me really pay attention to my nutrition.  While I tend to go in and out of phases with using this journal, I find that I generally feel better when I’m in an “in phase” with it as I tend to be more mindful about my nutrition.  Sometimes I will go months without keeping a food & fitness journal, but when I am keeping track, I will do so every day, usually filling in the previous day during breakfast.  I have an older video where I go into much more detail about how I keep this journal and my basic practice has not changed since.  You can watch it target=”_blank”>here if you’re interested.  I used the Moleskine Classic Pocket Notebook for many years, before just recently switching over to the Moleskine Volant Pocket Notebook just this year as it is much smaller and lighter so it is easier to travel with.  Plus it tucks nicely into a pocket in my Filofax.  I also use the LePen pens in this journal, as well, as I am particularly fond of color coding.

Gratitude Journal

My gratitude journal is the only one I write in every single day without fail.  I started this practice about five years ago after reading about the benefits doing so can provide one with in Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort & Joy by Sarah Ban Breathnach.  Every night right before I lay down to go to sleep I will write down five things that I am grateful for that day.  There is no right or wrong when it comes to gratitude and I find I can always immediately come up with five things, no matter what kind of day I have had.  The beauty of this practice is that it puts me in the best frame of mind possible right before I go to sleep.  I noticed a big change in my anxiety and general outlook almost immediately after starting this practice five years ago, which is why I have incorporated it into my daily routine and will continue to do so.  I have never found a quicker, easier, or cheaper pick-me-up with such a strong influence and lasting effect.  I’m using a Moleskine 2014 Daily Planner in the pocket size with the soft cover as my gratitude journal this year after making the switch from the Paperblanks planners I was using previously.  I like having a dated notebook for this practice and the Moleskine planner is perfect as it offers the same wonderful paper and construction that I love in my other journals.

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Journal Pouch & Supplies

As you may already know, I am particularly fond of keeping things contained whether that be in boxes, bins, or pouches.  I keep both my personal and health journals in a Kate Spade pouch I’ve had for a few years.  I find the 7″ x 10″ size is perfect to fit both of my Moleskine Volant Large Notebooks as well as my pens.  This keeps it all together and easily accessible.  While this case is no longer available, you can find others in the same size and style at Barnes and Noble.  I am especially fond of the Jonathan Adler designs.

Collage Journal & Supplies

One last journal I have that I do not access nearly as often as my others is my collage journal.  This, again, is based off of advice from the Simple Abundance book I referenced above.  For this, I use a Moleskine Volant Large Notebook with plain paper.  I keep it as well as my collage supplies, which include scissors, double-sided tape runner, markers, stickers, and magazine clippings, in a Jonathan Adler Accessory Pouch.  While I do not use my collage journal all that often I find that it is nice to have on hand for when the mood strikes.  Something about making collages is so therapeutic and refreshing!  Sometimes I find that I don’t quite have the words to work through something or express myself properly and it is at those times that I turn to this journal.

I realize this might seem like an awful lots of journals to some people, but to each their own.  I like to have separate journals for different purposes, but you might find that one notebook for all purposes suits your needs best.  I feel like as with most things, I am able to find what works best for me through trial and error, and over the years my journaling practices have evolved into what I have shared here today.  I know that with time my preferences might change, but I am certain that no matter what kinds or how many journals I might keep, I will always turn to journaling throughout my life.  Expressing myself on paper helps me understand myself better.  As with planning, I find that writing things out allows me to better work through things, whether they are how I approach my days or how I heed my heart.

If you’d like to watch me talk through my journals and journaling practices, check out the video below:

I would love to know if you journal, what kind of journaling you do and what your favorite journal accessories and rituals are.  Sharing ideas is a great way to motivate and inspire each other to try something new.  I always love hearing from you!

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* Post contains referral links.  This is not a sponsored post. All products shown were purchased by me with the exception of the 7 Year Pen, which was a gift.  All opinions are genuinely my own. *

48 comments

48 thoughts on “My Journals: Managing Physical & Emotional Health (2014)”

  1. I’m a lot like you when it comes to having different pouches,bins,totes,etc. For different things. lol. My husband thinks I’m crazy for it. But I tell him “I’m just organized” lol.

    1. “Wow “, I say while glancing over at my stack of 5 journals and a planner for family expenses and one for family activities. My hubby says I’m crazy too, but who does he call when he can’t remember something? Lol, to me it’s the same as instagram people posting pitures of everything, twitter and facebook posts…except you keep it to yourself.

  2. One of the things I love about journaling is being able to look back and see how things have worked out, it can be a real encouragement during a rough patch in the road. For the everyday bits, I use a 10 Plus Journal, just a few lines each day for 10 years. We lost our home in a tornado and somehow my journal survived. I had to get a new one because of debris damage, but I still have the ability to look back. Food journals are almost a must for those of us on Weight Watchers. As an artist I also have a sketch book that I use similarly to your collage journal. You can never have enough pens, I also love water color pencils which can be used wet or dry. I use the Simple Abundance Gratitude Journal for my 5 daily ‘thank you’ items. Lots of crazy writing people out there ! Thanks for sharing.

  3. I started keeping a sort of gratitude journal at the start of this year. It’s not exactly gratitude, more good things from the day. I find that I hang onto negativity and often find myself dwelling on even little things that have gone wrong which is very draining.

    Having never done this before, I just bought a cheap £1 diary which is a week on 2 pages. I really am finding that I could do with more room, so next year I think I will treat myself to a page a day style but I am going to stick with this one for continuity!

    I’m not the most disciplined when it comes to this sort of thing and have to admit I’ve missed a couple if weeks. I also have found that sometimes I am having to fill out a couple of days at a time. I have definitely noticed an improvement though in how I feel. I also notice that I feel best during the times when I have completed this on a daily basis.

    I am in no way a naturally organised person, but I know I feel better when I am trying to be organised. I find your videos very helpful in trying to find methods to help me beat my self destructive disorganisation! Thank you.

    1. I think you can still keep a gratitude journal and have it be beneficial without writing in it every day if that is what suits you best.

      1. Hi, thank you for replying. I will definitely stick at it as I can see an improvement even when I do have to backfill. My aim is to get to the point where I write every day but it’s okay to not be there just yet. Keep up the organisational work! I look forward to your next video.

  4. I wrote about my journals here – http://anglersrest.blogspot.co.uk/2014/02/book-of-me-prompt-6-diaries-and-journals.html

    I have every journal I have ever written, since I was 12 so, 33 years worth! I have gone as you will read in the link above to a Moleskin type journal, (I love that inside pocket!) This acts as my external brain! – I write feelings, thoughts, ideas, reviews – everything. I keep a small planner for appointments etc.

    I had not come across Simple Abundance before, so now off to look at Amazon.co.uk !

  5. Have you ever had someone read your journals? I’d like to keep one but I worry about the privacy factor.

    I’m also a complete wreck with anxiety in an MD office! In fact, I’m so scared to go to an MD, it’s been years since I went to one! Maybe I need to journal about this 🙂

    1. I have not had anyone read my journals with the exception with when I shared specific things with specific people when I needed advice.

  6. Hi Jen,

    Nice video. I think journaling is an organization of your thoughts and experiences. I have tried at different times to keep a journal but I don’t keep it up. If I’ve got something really serious or emotionally charged, I will write about it, but I usually delete it later. I usually do most of my writing on the computer. I am in the process of writing my life experiences at the moment.

    I hardly use many physical journals any more. I usually buy them for their cuteness, but don’t write anything significant in them. Although, I do admire people who do write down their thoughts in journals.

    Keep up your good work on your health and your self improvement. We never stop learning and it’s always good to learn about yourself as you grow and change. Good luck kiddo.

  7. This was a very informative, thought provoking post. You’re so darn cute with you colour coding, I think you do that because you are so artsie (spelling?) and have an eye for details 😉 In your next life you’ll have to become a teacher 🙂
    I have been journaling since I was a young girl. Although, when our children were young I just didn’t make time for it. “Big” mistake – because now would love to look back at the trials & tribulations and reflect.
    My gratitude journal only began for me a few years ago. It was actually a Oprah show that inspired me. I agree, it does give ya a nice deep breath before a nights rest. I don’t do it every night … but I have encouraged my 20yr old daughter to try to incorporate it into her day/week.
    You got me thinking about the “health” journal, such a brilliant idea for any woman to think about, we’re complicated …there’s bits … 😉 Journal it … Thanks for the reminder!
    I don’t tend to use anything particular to write my stuff into … which ever journal/calendar/day book I want at that time. But it has to be pretty 🙂
    I’ve been enjoying your journal/daily reminder/planning posts … they do really work on so many levels.
    We are always constantly learning aren’t we …. That’s a good thing …
    Have a good weekend 🙂
    Shaunie

  8. I love your videos and what you do. Thanks so much. I do keep a journal. I keep it in my big bag I take daily to work. I write in it when I get a feeling, a thought or concern. It’s very therapeutic and some quotes or scriptures I see and want to remember. I also do card sketches when something hits me that I want to remember. it’s really a what ever journal. It’s leather bound hard back and has a elastic band to hold it. I love it. I still want to get a A5 day planner as you have encouraged me that I really need this. I have a large one year one month (way too expensive, I ordered on web site and did not really know what I was getting and hate it but cost too much to not use- lesson learned on that one) I keep track of design teams I am on and what days to post and comment and anything else really important. but like I said I need the Kikki K or Filofax type.. Thanks for all you do. Hugs

    1. I have a journal for Inspiration. I’ve always clipped out or re-written bits that edify me. Among my late dad’s things was a stenographers notebook that had handwritten inspirational messages he had written down!

  9. I am currently writing in The Happiness Project one line a day journal. I love journaling and have many that I use but this is the main one. I use it kind of as a gratitude journal and put the best/happiest moments of my day. And I am the same with pouches/bins/totes, I use them for everything!! Thanks for sharing your journals!

      1. It is a great book, Happier at Home as well by Gretchen Rubin. If you haven’t checked them out, I definitely recommend them. She has a great blog as well. 🙂 Happy Saturday!

        1. Her other book, The First 20 Minutes, is a really interesting read too. Not about happiness, rather she sums up the latest research in exercise science. I read it last summer and I feel like it was so packed with information I need to go back and read it again, lol.

  10. Thank you for sharing! I keep a journal next to me when I do my morning prayer and Bible study. I jot down verses that are meaningful, things I’ve prayed about, etc. It’s nice to look back later to see how prayers were answered and scripture that brought comfort during stressful times. I usually pick one or two verses to put in my Erin Condren planner (which I use for work) per week to glance at while I’m working. I love the idea of a gratitude journal. It’s so important to care for your emotional health. I find that when I’m kind to myself, I’m much kinder to others!!

  11. Hi Jen! I’m a complete lover of all things paper and little bags, tins and boxes to store things in, so I enjoyed your latest video on journals. I kept a journal from the time I was 9 until I was 21, and would really like to get back into it. I tend to do gratitude prayers instead of writing things down, but it would be a nice way to get back into journal writing.

    I also wanted to share two things you might enjoy. The first is an excellent food & fitness journal I’ve used in the past. My sister and I both want to get healthier and lose some extra pounds, so I bought a copy for each of us to use, so that even though we live far apart, we can still work together. I found it here at Amazon:
    http://www.amazon.com/DIETMINDER-Personal-Fitness-Journal-Exercise/dp/0963796836/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1395530205&sr=1-3&keywords=fitness+journal

    I really like that this book has a place for keeping track of water intake, and vitamins/prescription meds.

    Also, since you seem to really like little bags and pouches, I thought I’d mention some of my favorite Etsy sellers:
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/MarfDaze
    (Martha has Dr. Who designs!)
    and
    https://www.etsy.com/shop/HahnStitched

    I love to purchase handmade bags and fill them up for loved ones. For example, when my mom was going through cancer treatments, I gave her a Dr. Who bag since she’s such a big fan, and filled it with things which might help her such as hand lotion and lip balm, since I heard the treatments really leave your skin and lips dry. I purchased a crossword puzzle bag for my mother-in-law as a Christmas gift filled with goodies like her favorite gum, and mechanical pencils for her puzzles.

  12. I have a food and fitness journal. I keep it in a personal size Filofax for which I’ve made my own daily inserts. It really helps staying accountable. I also have different tabs with my exercises, recipes, and meal plan. I also keep a spiritual journal in which I write about my Bible study or verses I like. Those two I write daily, but I also have an art journal in which I write whenever I feel like it.

  13. I’m a moleskine girl myself. And a colour coder extraordinaire. One of the many skills I picked up in uni 😉 I have a year planner and I’ve just started using a second ruled notebook to use as a 1/2 marathon training program. I actually picked up the same blue 2-pack as you Jen, great minds! lol. Have you ever heard of bullet journalling? I just discovered it and it’s totally changed the way I organize my thoughts. It works for me 🙂

    You’ve inspired my to start keeping a food journal again. I have IBS too and things have been a bit off lately… you are so right that being “in phase” helps manage things. Need to get back to it!

    I also have a 5 year journal that I right in *almost* everyday. I started it last fall and I can’t wait to get into the second year and see what I was thinking a year ago. Days I forget I go back and fill in with a quote that resonates with me.

    One last thing. I know you take a lot of flack for putting yourself out there. I think your tenacity shows great strength. Keep speaking your truth girl! There are people here who genuinely appreciate all that you do.

    1. I appreciate you, Jen. I’m in Ithaca visiting a grandbaby and helping out, but in all my spare time and baby nap times, I’m reading your blogs or watching your youtube videos!

  14. I’ve been journaling for a long time. This post & video are great because it’s given me some additional ideas for other journals to incorporate into my life. I especially like the health journal idea!

  15. Jen,
    I love all of the journals! I currently keep a journal of all the cute things my daughter says (she’s two and a half) because I know I’ll forget! One day she can look back at it and see the silly and sweet things she said at such a precious age.

  16. Hi Jen! Thanks so much for sharing another great video! 🙂 I do not currently journal, but I am starting to think I should. I also deal with some anxiety issues, and wondering if journaling may help? I am a list maker..lots of lists around here…lol, but it is something I must do as my head is always spinning with all this stuff I need to remember to do and that has to get done. I am a busy stay at home mom of 2 kiddos, 3rd and 5th grade and I am always running and it can really feel quite overwhelming at times which in turn brings on the anxiety I believe. Always feeling like I have so much to do and never enough time to do it all! Anyway, just wanted to let you know I enjoyed this video as I do all of your videos and I just may start journaling now and see if it helps me. You have inspired and continue to inspire me Jen with organization and other things in life too, and for that I send you hugs and a big thank you!! 😉

  17. I love that you decided to do a journal overview as part of your planning mini-series! I know you’ve talked about various individual journals before, but it’s really helpful to see them all together and get a sense of how you incorporate journaling into your daily routines. And can I tell you, this was so impactful and insightful to me:

    “As with planning, I find that writing things out allows me to better work through things, whether they are how I approach my days or how I heed my heart.”

    Oh if we could only “heed our hearts” more often! Thank you so much for sharing this!
    I’m typically sporadic about keeping up with my gratitude journal and other personal “trackers” outside of my paper planners, and I totally agree that when I’m “in phase” (great term!) with my food and fitness journaling I make smarter, healthier choices and generally feeling better. Thanks for reminding me of that!
    Enjoy your week off, we will miss you! Looking forward to sharing Spring!

  18. I just watched your video. My heart just ached every time you mentioned what you gleaned from Simple Abundance. Here’s why, I had that book for years — longer than your five — and I would read it over year after year. Around 2 years ago I bought a 2nd one from a used book store with intentions of setting up a “books that helped me a lot” box to give to my daughter. My daughter is a young adult now, the age where I thought I would give her the box but she isn’t a reader so last year I gave it to a thrift shop. This year as we entered 2014, I decided, “if I don’t get it at age 47, then I’ll never get it — why keep reading this book?” I had highlights in it and notes so I threw it away instead of giving it to a thrift store. My son pulled it out the trash can when he was emptying the trash and asked why was I throwing away I book rather than donating it — and I told him that it was time for me to get rid of it and that it had personal notes in it. It looked like it was really hard for him to throw away a perfectly good book. Well now after seeing this video and your references to it — my heart sank that I didn’t keep that book. That you’ve been reading it 5 years made me see that “I’m not the only one”. I knew exactly what you were referring to when you said collage journal — I had one of those too — gone — threw it away — figured — who cares at age 47. Now I’m sad that I even feel that way — shamed too. Thanks for sharing Jen.

    1. Sometimes we do things we regret – I try to think of those moments as opportunities to learn and grow. If you really miss the book, why not start all over again with another copy? If not, then maybe something else will come your way that can help inspire you.

  19. These ideas inspire me to get more organized. I got a new job and I don’t have the same time as I had before. I forget everything.

    I would like to know where did you get the stickers you put on your weekly planner. I looked for those at staples and I couldn’t find them. Thanks Jen.

    1. I actually made them myself using Avery Removable Multi-Use Labels (5148) – I’m going to post a tutorial on how to format them yourself for color coding on OLJ soon 🙂

  20. Hi Jen!

    LOVE your videos! Especially love all the planner videos, so much fun to watch and very inspriational. Also thanks for this post about your journals, I’m looking to start a food journal and may buy some of the little notebooks you use. Is there anyway you could show a mock up of how you set the journal out in the little book? Maybe just a fake entry or some such? would be very interested to see how it works in a smaller book.

    Oh, and how did you label the outside? It looks so professional!

    Thanks, Keep the amazing videos coming!

    1. Do you mean my food journal? I do have a video on that already – httpvh://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPPhlr9QlF8

      I just used letter stickers for the outside 🙂

  21. Hi Jen,

    Thanks for sharing your awesome organizing strategies! I find myself returning to your videos and re-watching often 🙂 I was wondering if you had a link for the magnetic paper clips that you use. I can’t seen to find them.

    Thanks 🙂

    1. I bought mine at The Container Store over the years but now I don’t see them offered on their website. They are by Oli Block.

  22. Who is your therapist? You mentioned that you found therapy very helpful in managing your anxiety and I have yet to find a therapist who I can truly build a meaningful relationship with. I know her first name is Judith, but what is her last name and where is she located? I’m hoping she can help me manage my anxiety as well as she was able to help you, Jen.

      1. That’s ok, I understand. Though I was wondering if you had any recommendations of good psychologists in the Glenview/Chicago area. Anyone that one of your friends or family members have used that they’ve had luck with? Happy to discuss privately with you if you don’t want it posted publicly on the blog. If you don’t mind answered, what type of therapy and how often did you do? Did you do cognitive behavioral therapy?

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