What Are The Potential Downsides Of Journaling?

What Are The Potential Downsides Of Journaling

Journaling can be a great way to express and process emotions, thoughts, and negative events and help us with personal growth. However, some potential downsides should be considered before beginning a journaling practice. In this article, we’ll explore some of the potential downsides and how to address them.


What are the potential downsides of journaling?

Time Commitment

Depending on how often you choose to journal, the time commitment can become a significant factor. You may find yourself writing for longer than expected or having to regularly clear time in your day to make mental space for this activity.


Fear of Reopening Old Wounds

Journaling can bring up old feelings and memories that we would rather stay buried for our mental health.


If this is a concern, you can start slowly by focusing more on the present, identifying specific negative tendencies, and gradually working towards the past as you gain confidence.


Feeling Overwhelmed

Facing a blank page can feel daunting and lead to feeling overwhelmed. Instead of sitting down with a specific goal in mind, leave it open-ended and allow your thoughts to flow freely without judgment or expectations.


Becoming Too Self-Critical

We can often be our own harshest critics when it comes to evaluating our self-progress or lack thereof.


Life journaling should not become an exercise in beating ourselves up; instead, use your entries as a way of celebrating successes and acknowledging improvements.


Not Being Productive

Without proper guidance or structure, journaling can become an unproductive activity. If you find yourself struggling to find value in your entries, consider adding prompts or setting goals for each entry. Most people find tremendous support by writing negative thoughts in a journal.


Anxiety Over Privacy

Depending on where your journal is kept and who has access to it, there may be some anxiety over the privacy of your thoughts and feelings.

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Consider using a physical journal with a lock or an encrypted online service to ensure that your entries remain safe from prying eyes.


Unhelpful Comparisons

Reading old entries can lead us down the path of comparison; comparing our current selves to our previous ones in terms of progress or lack thereof and seeing all the negative things. 

This type of thinking can be detrimental so remember that progress comes in many forms and different speeds.


Fear of Judgment

Writing about our thoughts and feelings can feel like a vulnerable experience as you turn into a passive observer in your life, which can lead to fear of judgment from other people if they were to read your journal.


It is important to remember that you are the only one who knows what’s in your entries and that no one else has the right to judge them.


Not Knowing Where To Begin

If you have never kept a journal before, it can be difficult knowing where to start or how best to structure it.


Consider starting with some short, simple prompts such as ‘What do I need today?’ or ‘What am I grateful for?’ These types of entries will help get you into the journaling habit without feeling overwhelmed.


Not Seeing Results

Journaling can be a slow process of doing the same things daily and may not give you the quick fix that you were looking for.

It takes time to see results, so don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen overnight, keep going and eventually, the benefits will become apparent.





How do you start journaling when you hate it?

Change Your Perspective

If you’re feeling resistant to journaling, try changing your mindset from seeing it as a chore to embracing it as an opportunity for self-expression and exploration.


Start Small

Instead of setting yourself the goal of writing long entries every day, begin with short bursts such as writing a few sentences each morning or evening. This will help build your confidence without feeling overwhelmed.

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Choose A Time And Place That Works For You

Pick a spot and time that feels comfortable and calming, this could be in the morning before work, by the window at night, or even on your lunch break throughout the day.


Find What Feels Right To You

Experiment with different forms of journaling, you can incorporate drawings, photos, lists, letters, or anything else that feels right for you.


Let Go Of Expectations

Don’t feel pressure to have a specific outcome in mind; the goal is simply to write without judgment or expectations.


Take A Break When Needed

If writing becomes too overwhelming or triggers difficult emotions, it’s ok to take a break and come back later when you’re ready.


Make It Fun

Find ways to make the process enjoyable – this could be playing some music while writing, using colorful pens and notebooks, or setting up a cozy space dedicated to journaling.


Add Structure If Needed

If you’re feeling stuck, adding structure to your entries can help provide focus. Try writing about a single topic each day or setting yourself short prompts such as ‘What am I most proud of today?’


Celebrate Your Progress

Journaling is not only about exploring difficult topics, it can also be used to celebrate successes and recognize improvements. Make sure to take note of the progress you make along the way.


What are some 25 easiest prompts to help you get started?


  1. What am I most proud of today?
  2. How do I feel right now in one word/phrase?
  3. What are three things that made me smile today?
  4. What did I learn today?


  1. What can I do to bring more joy into my life?
  2. What is something positive I can focus on right now?
  3. Who or what am I grateful for today?
  4. If I could choose a superpower, what would it be and why?
  5. What makes me unique and special?
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  1. In what ways have I grown over the past few years/month/week/day?
  2. What is my biggest hope for the future?
  3. What steps can I take to reach my goals?
  4. What small act of kindness did I do today and how did it make me feel?
  5. If I could travel anywhere in the world, where would I go and why?


  1. What are three positive affirmations for myself?
  2. In what ways have I expressed positive creativity today?
  3. How can I show more self-care/self-love this week?
  4. How has nature made me feel recently?
  5. Is there a memory from childhood that still brings a smile to my face?


  1. What personal qualities am I most proud of?
  2. What is a challenge I’m currently facing and how can I overcome it?
  3. What have been my biggest successes this year/month/week/day?
  4. What kind of negative energy do I want to let go of?
  5. How can I practice self-compassion right now?
  6. If I could pick a new hobby, what would it be and why?


Bottom Line

Journaling can be a powerful tool for greater understanding and expressing our thoughts, feelings, and experiences.


It can help us to process emotions, gain insight, set goals, manage stress, and cultivate self-awareness.


However, it is important to remember that we all have unique needs and preferences when it comes to journaling, so experiment with different prompts and techniques until you find what works best for you!



  • Ben

    I'm Ben, a data engineer who adores journaling. My passion for recording life experiences inspired me to develop Otto's Journal, an online diary app. Join me as I blend data and storytelling in the ever-changing tech world, making journaling more accessible and exciting.

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