Journaling doesn’t come easy for most men. Expressing your thoughts and feelings in writing can feel unnatural and intimidating. However, the benefits of journaling are far too great for men to ignore. Whether you want to improve your mental health or start achieving audacious goals, journaling will support you.
In this article, I’m going to explain what journaling is really about, why men should journal, popular journaling practices, and how men can keep an anonymous journal.
What exactly is journaling for men?
It’s easy to think of the cliche journaling style that often starts with something like “Dear Diary, today I woke up and checked my phone, then I brushed my teeth, then I had a cup of coffee”. You get the idea. This is why some men have written off journaling altogether, it doesn’t sound appealing nor masculine.
Journaling is simply writing down your thoughts and feelings to help you reflect, track and understand yourself better. Through keeping a simple journal you can reflect on these thoughts and feelings over a longer period to uncover powerful patterns. It’s easily the most underrated and effective form of self-improvement.
Why should men journal?
The Stoics were strong believers in daily journaling. Marcus Aurelius, the Emperor of Rome, journaled frequently. Some would attribute his success to his daily journaling habit. His most famous journal, Meditations, was packed with profound insights on virtue, character building, self-control, and other wisdom that helped shape stoicism. If you’re interested in learning about stoicism you can read the beginner’s guide to stoicism for a more peaceful life.
Journaling has also been proven to help manage anxiety, reduce stress, cope with depression and even help achieve your goals.
A 2006 study found that people who journaled for two 15-min sessions twice during the week had a significantly greater decrease in their psychological symptoms.
Another separate study published by Cambridge University found the long-term physical and emotional benefits of expressive writing includes:
- Less stress-related visits to the doctors
- Reduced blood pressure
- Improved immune system
- Improved mood
- Reduced depressive symptoms
- Improved working memory
- Improved sporting performance
In summary, if you want to be healthy, wealthy, and wise you should develop a daily journaling habit.
Common journaling practices
There are many variations of journaling. I’m only going to touch on four of the most applicable journaling practices for men.
1. Five-minute Journal
The five-minute journal is a popular gratitude journaling practice. As the name suggests, it should only take you a maximum of five minutes. It’s structured in such a way that will keep you returning and not having to think about what you need to write down. You only need to answer the questions and write your affirmations. There’s no friction with this and it’s great for beginners.
2. Mind Journal
Mind Journal claims to be the number one journal for men. And to be honest they might be. I’ve personally used this journal. It’s one of the best journals for beginners because each page/day has a guiding structure. The journal is split into stages of self-discovery.
3. Baronfig Clear Habit Journal
The Baronfig Clear Habit Journal is a collaboration with James Clear. It’s great for men looking to build positive habits and keep themselves accountable. James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits is deemed an expert when it comes to building and sticking with new habits.
4. Free/empty Journal
A free journal is an empty journal where you can write absolutely anything. For those who don’t want to be stuck with a structure and are happy to wing it then this is for you. I only use a free journal to write my tasks for the day or anything important I want to remember. However, I have recently been using Evernote for random notes or ideas.
How to keep an anonymous journal
Some might argue that keeping a written journal is most effective, I disagree. I get uncomfortable writing all my feelings and thoughts on a piece of paper that could land in anyone’s hands.
This is a valid reason why most men won’t start a journaling habit. It’s hard to be 100% honest if there’s a possibility someone close to you might read all your thoughts. It might sound irrational but it’s a thought in the back of my head so I can never fully invest. It’s also harder to physically write every day.
I’ve been keeping my online anonymous journal for years. It’s super easy and it’s the only form of journaling I’ve been able to consistently practice.
Here’s how men can keep an anonymous journal:
- Create a separate Gmail & Google Drive account specifically for your journals
- Create a folder called “Journal”
- Share edit access with your personal Gmail account or other email accounts so you can still access it elsewhere
- Create a Google Doc or copy the free template into the folder
Duplicate this free template-> Men’s Daily Journal Template
- Make it a habit to fill it out each and every day.
Now that it’s in the cloud you shouldn’t have any excuses not to complete it. You could journal during your commute to work or even while you wait in line for a coffee.
Creating the habit
Choosing the right journaling practice is half the battle with developing the habit. If you don’t like the journaling practice you’re subscribed to then it’s unlikely you’ll stick with it. Trying each method mentioned above and finding which one resonates most with you is the best chance you have. If in doubt start with the five-minute journal on a separate google drive account. It’s easy and it’s designed to be accessible anywhere so you can complete it whenever suits you. Journaling is best done on a daily basis when built into your routine.
According to James Clear, habit stacking can help you build sticky habits easily. Habit stacking is a form of implementation intention where you pair the new habit with an existing habit. This means you should journal right before or after a current habit. For example, if you wake up and immediately have a shower you should journal right before or right after your shower.
Regardless of which approach you take, journaling for men is becoming more mainstream. The upside is huge and the downside doesn’t exist.