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12 ​​Alternatives To Journaling For Non-writers And More

Are you stuck staring at a blank page while trying to write in your journal? Don't worry. There are plenty of alternatives to journaling that can help you express your thoughts and feelings differently.

In this article, we'll be exploring some great ones so that you can find the right method that will best suit your needs. But first, let’s answer the question below.

Why Do People Need to Journal?

Journaling has risen in popularity as it has become a go-to tool for self-reflection, personal growth, and emotional healing. It is also an effective way to manage stress and process emotions.

People turn to journaling because it serves as a safe space, like an invisible friend. Through journals, we can freely convey our inner thoughts, feelings, or struggles without fear of judgment.

In addition to being beneficial for mental health purposes, we can use journaling as a powerful vehicle for self-help. Many people find clarity on certain issues they may be facing while journaling.

For instance, when feeling overwhelmed with stresses related to work or relationships, the act of writing out our frustrations instead of keeping them bottled up inside can be cathartic. It may help us escape from negative thought patterns into more positive spaces to understand better situations that have been challenging us.

Writing down our experiences is also very helpful in tracking developmental progress over time. With a journaling habit, you document changes or personal growth moments from momentous events such as career successes or travel adventures—all things that are easy to forget if not documented.

Related Read: Best Eco-Friendly Notebooks & Journals.

Alternatives to Traditional Journaling

Try speaking out loud, engaging in creative activities, or meditation to express yourself and get the same mental health benefits journaling provides.

1. Speaking out loud

Speaking out loud is a great alternative to conventional journaling and can be highly beneficial for mental health. Verbal self-expression allows individuals to self-reflect and process their thoughts and emotions. This leads to greater self-awareness and reflection on behaviors that may be detrimental or working against them,

Start talking about challenging situations or complicated feelings. It can offer clarity and insight while providing a safe space for innermost thoughts and feelings.

Rather than writing down all your worries on paper, talking aloud forces you to slow down and hear yourself from another perspective. Speaking out loud helps us sort through a current challenge and encourages linear problem-solving. For inspiration, check out our journal prompts, which apply equally to speaking and writing.

2. Creative activities

Photo by Sincerely Media on Unsplash

Artistic activities such as drawing, painting, writing poetry, photo journaling, or composing music provide an outlet for self-expression and reflection. Inspired pursuits can help people identify patterns in their minds and behaviors they may not have been aware of before.

For instance, creating art is a great way to convey your feelings without relying on words – letting your mark-making speak instead. Creating art can fulfill our creative needs and help us reflect on our thoughts more easily than writing in a journal.

3. Meditation

woman meditating
Photo by Katerina May on Unsplash

Meditation is a great alternative to traditional journaling for those looking to go beyond writing. It can be incredibly helpful in nurturing mental health, calming the body, and allowing space for introspection.

This type of intentional relaxation activates positive emotional states and brings awareness to the physical sensations felt in our bodies.

In addition, it teaches us how to become more mindful so we can recognize negative thought patterns before they cause a detrimental effect on our overall health or well-being.

4. Movement-based therapy

woman dancing
Photo by Andre Furtado on Unsplash

Movement-based therapy is a form of expression that incorporates physical movement to address emotional issues and help with self-discovery. It uses the body’s natural movements as a medium for healing, such as dance, yoga, or tai chi.

This therapy helps people explore their deepest feelings and uncover hidden thoughts or responses by engaging with their surroundings and practicing mindfulness.

This can allow people to gain more insight into how they feel in certain environments or during certain events. It enables them to learn helpful coping mechanisms that prevent difficult situations from escalating further.

5. Mood-tracking apps

Mood-tracking apps offer an alternative to traditional journaling and can be a helpful tool in managing mental health. These digital tools help people monitor their state of mind and become more self-aware. They show trends over time so users can understand their feelings in different situations.

Mood trackers have many features to help with tracking and improving how you feel. Some are graphs, educational content, and reminder notifications.

Some highly-rated mood tracker apps are Daylio, Reflectly, and Moodfit.

More Alternative Ways to Journal

Whether it's art journals or gratitude journals, there are plenty of different forms of self-inquiry. Don’t be afraid to try something new. Let yourself get creative and discover what works best for you.

6. Art journals

art journal
Photo by Estée Janssens on Unsplash

Art journals are a unique way of journaling, specifically designed to combine both art and words into one. They allow individuals to explore their inner thoughts, feelings, emotions, and notions through different mediums.

On each page of an art journal, you can write down your reflections or use visual representations such as drawing or painting to reveal yourself. Through writing, sketching, or photographing our experiences, we can find meaning in our lives.

Spending time with an art journal can help reduce anxiety and stress levels. It allows us to focus on something other than our current challenges.

7. Gratitude journals

Gratitude is an emotion to recognize the good things in our lives. Gratitude journals are a great alternative to conventional journaling for those looking to practice self-reflection and express thanks for everything they are thankful for.

The technique is simple—each day, write down at least three things you are grateful for. They can range from small moments throughout your day to larger blessings like family and friends.

Letter writing is also another method. Write a gratitude-filled letter to yourself or the people that matter to you.

Through this process, it can help people realize how much abundance is already present in their lives and gain a positive outlook on life’s challenges ahead of them. When you write down what you are grateful for, you appreciate current circumstances and put things in perspective. This is helpful and necessary during everyday stress.

8. Positivity folders

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Positivity folders are an alternative to traditional journaling that can help promote an optimistic outlook. They provide a haven for people to write or compile the good things going on in their lives and communicate themselves creatively.

Create a folder filled with things that make you happy, like quotes, images, or affirmations. This is a powerful tool when it comes to finding motivation, highlighting sources of strength, and being thankful for everything in life – small as well as big.

9. Mind map journals

A unique alternative to traditional journaling is mind map journals. Mind maps are visual representations of a person's thoughts and ideas that they can use for creative problem-solving, introspection, and intuitively organizing information.

Drawing upon the idea of cognitive mapping, this approach promotes mental clarity. It allows for a better understanding of any internal process. Connecting between different concepts sparks creativity and helps gain new perspectives.

To start, write down your initial thoughts in the center. Then, create spiderweb-like streams around critical themes, considering how different factors affect outcomes. Then, you can make decisions based on your findings.

Mind maps help people understand patterns in thoughts. Visual cues like photos, colors, or symbols are used instead of words.

People can now see their emotions more clearly, creating an immersive experience. This helps them uncover both positive and negative experiences.

10. Bullet journals

bullet journal
Photo by Julia Kicova on Unsplash

Bullet journaling is a practice of tracking one's daily mood and tasks, as well as reflecting on their internal experiences. This journaling method combines organization tools like checklists and to-do lists with traditional reflective writing.

It also provides space for listing important dates, setting goals, or tracking habits in one place - using bullet points (hence the name). This journal helps you focus on self-reflection instead of just tracking daily activities. It may create healthier thought patterns.

Bullet journals are a simple way to express thoughts without worrying about grammar or phrasing. They also let users note life events and long-term goals.

11. Video journaling and voice notes

Video and voice notes are two forms of journaling that offer all the benefits of traditional paper-and-pen journals. Instead of writing thoughts on paper, create video or voice recordings.

Recording audio or video shows rather than tells allows people to capture their emotions in real time easily. Video recordings offer valuable insight into the impact of body language on experiences. A voice note could reveal the true emotion expressed during an event.

Both methods create time-stamped entries to record experiences over time and analyze behavior and emotional patterns. 

Audio or visual recordings are convenient for people who find it hard to start writing because they feel intimidated by a blank screen or paper. All you need to do is talk. There are free smartphone apps to help you record and organize these files.

12. Social media

social media
Photo by Julian Christ on Unsplash

Social media is more than just a popular form of entertainment. It is also an effective tool for self-observation and expression. Platforms like Instagram, X (formerly Twitter), or Facebook could offer a space to journal about our daily experiences and feelings.

Use social media to share funny stories from your day-to-day routines and more profound thoughts that explore what has truly touched or shaped you in recent moments. You can use other platforms, such as YouTube, for video diaries, too. Sharing embarrassing truths can be empowering, especially when talking directly to the camera lens.

How to Choose the Best Journaling Method

Understand your source of motivation and mood.

When choosing an alternative method of journaling, it is essential to understand and reflect on your source of motivation and state of mind. Daily recording of your feelings can help you notice patterns in your emotions and reactions over time.

When you notice these patterns, you can find what journal works best for you. Do you want to talk into a recorder? Can you grab a Polaroid camera and take a walk? Find what creates the least friction for you.

Try different methods.

Trying out different journaling techniques helps individuals find what works best for them. You can choose from various journaling methods like art journals, gratitude journals, and habit-tracking tools. These methods help process and convey our feelings in different ways.

Track your progress.

Keeping note of progress is important in journaling and can help you grow personally. You can monitor your progress by setting goals, doing activities, and noting moods, habits, and thoughts. When you start a new journaling method, take note of how it affects all the things listed above. Do you see an improvement? It is important to stay accountable to get real insight into how journaling may or may not be helping you. 

Conclusion: Alternatives To Journaling

Overall, journaling is a great way to express one's innermost thoughts. And while pen and paper journals are easy to pick up, you can get stuck staring at a blank page. Thankfully, other options let you explore your mind more creatively.

From art journals to bullet journals or voice notes—there’s something out there that fits every person’s individual needs and wants. To find the best way to record your thoughts and feelings, try different methods and keep a record of your progress. By practicing mindfulness, personal growth knows no limits and can help build resilience during tough times.

Jen’s a passionate environmentalist and sustainability expert. With a science degree from Babcock University Jen loves applying her research skills to craft editorial that connects with our global changemaker and readership audiences centered around topics including zero waste, sustainability, climate change, and biodiversity.

Elsewhere Jen’s interests include the role that future technology and data have in helping us solve some of the planet’s biggest challenges.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

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