There's no denying the benefits of journaling — it can potentially improve your mood, reduce anxiety, boost your memory, and bolster your overall sense of well-being. Some studies even suggest it can
help wounds heal faster. But staring at a blank page can be overwhelming — where to begin? This is where guided journals come in handy. The best guided journals offer you simple prompts to self-reflect and get your creative juices flowing.
When you start shopping around, you'll quickly see that there's no such thing as an average guided journal. Some journals are sweet and sentimental, while others are funny and sarcastic; some require pages of writing while others only ask for a few sentences. Certain journals focus more on happiness and self-exploration, while others are designed for
goal-setting and habit-formation. The prompts can range, too, asking you everything from intensely thought-provoking questions to simple things like, "What's your favorite color?"
The journal that's best for you will depend on your personality and what you're hoping to get out of writing in it. To help you find the right one, I've rounded up a list of the
best guided journals out there in a variety of lengths, designs, and styles. 1 This Self-Exploration Journal That Helps You Nurture Your Dreams & Become More Mindful Number of pages: 128 What's great about it: With thousands of five-star ratings, this popular guided journal offers an excellent road map to self-exploration. It's full of inspirational quotes and prompts aimed at helping you be more mindful, reflect on your inner-most thoughts, and find joy in the small things. These include questions such as, "List five things that always, and immediately, bring a smile to your face" or "What gives you light?" On top of that, it’s gorgeously illustrated. One reviewer wrote: “I stumbled across this journal in search of a blank one as I wanted to start writing to get some thoughts onto paper. I found myself drawn to this journal for self exploration by the cover, quotes, and prompts that it promised and I'm very impressed! The quotes are amazingly drawn and very inspiring. The prompts make you think while having fun and I love it. A great way to reflect on yourself :)” 2 A Guided Gratitude Journal To Help You Appreciate The Little Things Number of pages: 118 What's great about it: This guided self-exploration journal is structured around the premise that happy, meaningful lives are built from gratitude. The weekly pages feature inspirational quotes, plus spaces to record three things that you are thankful for every day. At the end of each week, there is a checkpoint to recap and reflect. This journal has earned a cult following on Amazon, with over 17,000 positive ratings. One reviewer wrote: "Just started using this journal after being in a bit of a funk at the start of this year. I researched many different journals but this was the only one that i felt was simple, that didn't make too many 'demands' on my time, that was straightforward, in short, exactly what I was looking for. It's a simple concept and I've only being doing it for a week but I find myself looking for things to be thankful for, find myself adding lines below the three provided and writing in the margins...all because I want to...” 3 This Unique Five-Year Journal That Shows You How You've Changed Over Time Number of pages: 368 What's great about it: I personally have this robust five-year question-and-answer journal, and I absolutely love the concept. In short, the journal asks you a different question each day of the year (things like, "What's your mission?" "What are you reading right now?" and "What are you looking forward to?") and when you hit 365 days, you start over. Over the years, you can compare how you are doing, what your life is like, and how your philosophies have grown or changed. One reviewer wrote: “I will have had this little book two years in November and after one year was complete I discovered why it is so good. The first year the questions are new - some are fun and frivolous and others really make you think [...] The second year can be an eye-opener when you read last year's answers and realize how much things, circumstances, or you yourself have changed - and how others have stayed exactly the same. Some of these can push you to change things - for example: one question asked what I most wanted to buy and my answer was a Jeep Wrangler. This year my answer was the same and I was shocked at how long I had had the same wish, time can just get away from you. Anyway, I made a concerted effort to find the Jeep I wanted at a price I could afford and bought it. (love it) It's simple, short and often fun, but it can bring back memories, good and bad, and it can certainly make you think.” 4 A Funny, Irreverent Journal That Helps You Relax & Be More Zen-Like Number of pages: 128 What's great about it: This frank, straightforward, and hilarious book is one of the more unique writing journals out there. Titled Zen as F*ck: A Journal for Practicing the Mindful Art of Not Giving a Sh*t, the name says it all. As the description puts it, this irreverent journal prompts you to "give the good around you a warm f*cking hug and kick the bad on its ass." Reviewers love that the humorous tone helps them actually use it. One reviewer wrote: "Sometimes journaling can feel like a chore, with this journal not only do you feel motivated to keep turning the pages to see the next to [tongue] in cheek saying the exercises are ones that I have seen be greatly effective at helping to organize and de -stress your thoughts. I use this along with my regular journal in days in not sure what to write about. I often find that I need a little more space to write so I continue along in my normal journal. 5 A Best-Selling Guided Journal From Michelle Obama, Inspired By Her Popular Memoir Number of pages: 208 What's great about it: If you're a Michelle Obama fan, you will love her best-selling guided journal, which is based on her similarly best-selling book Becoming. The guided journal is full of prompts that encourage you to explore your hopes, challenges, and dreams. It’s also beautifully designed, with cream colored pages, a ribbon bookmark, and foil-stamped detailing on the cover. One reviewer wrote: "These are thoughtful prompts not found in many other guides journals. The focus on self empowerment and owning your stories is powerful and uplifting." 6 This Hilarious Journal For Moms To Find Moments Of Peace & Log Memories Number of pages: 146 What's great about it: It's tough being a mom and this funny guided journal offers a way to get through it with a sense of humor, whether you’re a parent yourself or looking for the perfect gift for one of the moms in your life. This journal provides candid, unfiltered prompts about motherhood and encourages you to find alone time, even just briefly, to write down a few sentences. It includes questions like, "What has been the biggest shock of parenting for you so far?" and "What are the tell-tale signs that your personal standards are officially in the toilet?" One reviewer wrote: "I like the humor that this book throws in to remind me I am completely normal. [...] It has different writing prompts or you can write about what you want. I use it for good and bad. Sometimes I write about things that are bothering me. Once it gets down on paper I can forget it and move on. I no longer feel the need to dwell on it and can save my cherished girlfriend talk for positive things. I also use it to document funny things my kids say and do." 7 A Habit-Forming Journal To Show You How To Crush Your Goals Number of pages: 239 (according to a reviewer) What's great about it: If part of your objective is to set goals, this 13-week BestSelf Co. journal is the way to go. Designed with short-term achievements in mind, it features tons of habit- and goal-oriented prompts with daily actions and priorities lists. It's built around what it calls the "Daily Structure for Success," which includes morning and evening gratitude prompts, along with targets, goals, and scheduling. One reviewer wrote: "The daily planners are where the magic happens. It has a half hour by half hour schedule you can set up every day so you know what you should be doing at any given time. [...] The daily sections also have a brag zone and a zone for lessons learned, but that 3 task focus has really changed the way I think about my day. As a creative, this has really helped me get my life back on track. Highly recommended for folks who have some more intense goals they want to make space for in their lives." 8 A 12-Week Workbook With Morning Pages Designed Specifically For Creative People Number of pages: 272 What's great about it: Modern self-help journals and workbooks owe a lot to this classic guided journal. Aimed specifically at artists, writers, musicians, and other creative types, The Artist's Way offers a 12-week program to self-reflect and tap into your creative potential. Along with the mini-chapters about self-growth, the journal has you keep "Morning Pages" that involve writing exercises every day when you first wake up. One reviewer wrote: "I loved it! I decided to actually follow the guidelines for the book - one chapter a week, doing the written exercises, the morning pages, the artist day..and I stuck to it. That is not usual for me, but I decided to give it a try..and it worked!" 9 A Guided Planner That Will Help You Start Living Your Best Life Number of pages: 192 What's great about it: This clever guided journal, which boasts a 4.6-star overall rating on Amazon and more than 5,000 reviews, is one part vision board and one part day planner. In addition to helping you tap into what you truly want in life, the prompts encourage you to set actionable goals and list your priorities out to make them happen. In addition to recording things like affirmations, goals, and gratitude, there are spaces for mind maps and vision boards. One reviewer wrote: "I usually start out trying to be better at using planners and always fail. This is the first planner I've stuck with and LOVE it. It really helps keep me on track with goals and make things not feel so overwhelming (which is part of their whole mission.) This is perfect for any type of personality that likes making lists, anyone starting a big project or a big life change, or anyone who needs to organize their time better. Highly recommend!" Studies referenced: Koschwanez, H.; Kerse, N; Darragh, M; Jarrett, P; Booth, RJ; Broadbent, E (2013) Expressive writing and wound healing in older adults: a randomized controlled trial. Psychosomatic Medicine, https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23804013