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9 Guided Journals For Self Reflection, Planning, & Practicing Gratitude

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Regularly journaling has many benefits for both your physical and mental health, but it can be an intimidating habit to start. Between blank pages and thick journals, it 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, get your creative juices flowing, and plan and practice gratitude.

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

A Funny, Irreverent Journal That Helps You Relax & Be Zen

Best for: Reflecting on yourself and making affirmations

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.

According to one reviewer: "If you get stuck when trying to journal and you are straightforward and tend to swear, then this is the journal for you. Its just awesome. You'll be amazed at what a difference it makes. Just buy it. You won't be disappointed. when it comes to your mental health, find something you can relate to and do what makes YOU happy. You'll thank yourself later, I promise. Go buy this journal.”

2

This Self-Exploration Journal That Helps Become More Mindful

Best for: Reflecting on dreams, plans, and yourself

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.

According to one reviewer: “Sometimes it's hard to sit down and write in a regular journal because my mind if fried after long work days. Having a guided journal that makes you think and write about things you normally wouldn't on your own accord is so relaxing and helpful in keeping a healthy mind.”

3

A Guided Journal For Practicing Gratitude

Best for: Practicing gratitude

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 20,000 positive ratings.

According to one reviewer: "I've been using my 'Good Days Start with Gratitude' journal for just over 6 months. I love the easy, 3 bullet-point practice. It has helped to pinpoint the good in my day without been stressful (not an avid writer to keep a free-form journal or diary). Love the quotes, and enjoy looking back at all the positive things happening on the day-to-day. Would highly recommend!”

4

A 5-Year Journal That Shows You How You've Changed Over Time

Best for: Tracking personal growth 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.

According to one reviewer: “This is my second time buying this book. I like that it has prompts for each day so that you don’t have to come up with something on your own. The questions range from serious to lighthearted. Some make you think - “what living person would you like to sit down and have a drink with?” Some are just fun “what was your last credit card purchase?” And some simply help track time as the years go by - “what is your current address?””

5

A Guided Journal From Michelle Obama, Inspired By Her Memoir

Best for: Reflecting on memories and experiences

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.

According to one reviewer: "Beautiful. Clean format, love the blue colour scheme. I love the open date format and the prompts for each page. You don't HAVE to do it daily, or even in order, but when you want to capture your memories and feelings it is there. I think in the intro Michelle did a great job explaining that it is more about taking the time to capture memories that is important, not necessarily the big events that [happen] in our lives but even the small parts and little random details that evoke a memory or feeling in the distant future.”

6

This Hilarious Journal For Moms To Find Moments Of Peace & Log Memories

Best for: Parents documenting their and their child’s lives

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?"

According to one reviewer: "This is real, unapologetic, funny, and empowering. You get to document all aspects of motherhood and still get to be a person independent of that, with little reminders to take care of yourself and remind yourself of things You like and want to do. The drawings are [h]ilarious, the quotations are fun and real, and there are so many reminders that whatever you're going through, it's ok, and you're not alone, and you don't have to be perfect or happy all the time or have it together.”

7

A 12-Week Workbook With Morning Pages Designed For Creatives

Best for: Creatives reflecting on their process

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.

According to one reviewer: "Love this book as a guide, as something to come back to when I need a boost, and as a gift to other writers who are having lapses.”

8

A Habit-Forming Journal For Setting & Crushing Your Goals

Best for: Building habits and setting 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.

According to one reviewer: "This journal is a subtle guide without basically telling you what to write like some other "guided" journals I have looked at. I like the fact that it's not predated so if you skip or miss a day it's no big deal and just pick up where you left off. I would definitely recommend this for someone who wants to start journaling but not sure where or how to start.”

9

A Planner Where You Can Make Affirmations, Goals, & A Vision Board

Best for: Planning and productivity

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.

According to one reviewer: "I love the simplicity of this planner! Has enough pages for the months and weeks and plenty of notes space in the back. I also like that it guides you on goals without buttonholing you into a specific way to work on your goals.”

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

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