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, while others are funny and sarcastic; some require pages of writing while others only ask for 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 spent some time on Amazon looking for the most popular, well-liked options. Below, I've made a list of the best guided journals out there, according to what reviewers have to say. I've include a wide variety of lengths, types, and styles.
1. This Self-Exploration Journal That Helps You Nurture Your Dreams & Become More Mindful
What's great about it: With more than 900 reviews, 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?"
What fans say: "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 Habit-Forming Journal To Show You How To Crush Your Goals
What's great about it: If part of your objective is to set goals, this BestSelf Co. journal is the way to go. 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, along with targets, goals, and scheduling.
What fans say: "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."
3. A Guided Gratitude Journal So You Can Be Happier & More Thankful
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 you are thankful for every day. At the end of each week, there is a checkpoint to recap and reflect.
What fans say: "I have found that it is very easy to keep up with. Each day has space to write three things that you are thankful for, and I love that it makes me think of the good in each day instead of focusing on bad things that may have happened. It really helps keep my outlook on the bright side!"
4. This Unique Five-Year Journal That Shows You How You've Changed Over Time
What's great about it: I personally have this 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.
What fans say: "This December I will have finished filling this journal. I will cherish this book for a long time. It just so (happens) that I started out this journal lonely, depressed and heartsick. In the five years afterward I met a wonderful man, became friends, dated, fell in love, got engaged and I'm filling out this year's entries as a happily married woman who is kicking depression's butt. I got to capture all those changes in my life in this journal!"
5. A Funny, Irreverent Journal That Helps You Relax & Be More Zen-Like
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. According to the journal's description, it prompts you to "give the good around you a warm f*cking hug and kick the bad on its ass." Reviewers love it and say the humorous tone helps them actually use it.
What fans say: "My Best Friend sent this book to me when I was in a bad place. It has honestly helped, and with a sense of humor. I've LOVED the way it spoke to me, and the activities were very cathartic. I didn't expect this is to be more than just entertainment, but it honestly did help."
6. A New Guided Journal From Michelle Obama, Inspired By Her Best-Selling Memoir
What's great about it: If you're a Michelle Obama fan, you will love her debut guided journal, which is based on her recent best-selling book Becoming. The guided journal helps you reflect on your life and "find value in your own personal journey of becoming. " It's full of prompts that encourage you to explore you hopes, challenges, and dreams. The journal, which is currently available for pre-order, will be on sale November 19.
7. This Hilarious Journal For Moms To Find Moments Of Peace & Log Memories
What's great about it: It's tough being a mom and this funny guided journal helps you get through it with a sense of humor. The book provides candid, unfiltered prompts about motherhood and encourages you to find alone time, even just briefly, to write down a few sentences. Questions include things 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?"
What fans say: "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."
8. A 12-Week Workbook With Morning Pages Designed Specifically For Creative People
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.
What fans say: "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
What's great about it: This clever guided journal, which boasts more than 1,700 reviews on Amazon, 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.
What fans say: "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!"
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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