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  • Writer's pictureCassandra Martin-Himmons

Expressive Journaling - What Is It? And 5 Ways To Do It

This is for my fellow creatives and those who feel that they’re not so creative!

In previous posts I’ve spoken about journaling – different types of journals you should consider keeping, how to incorporate journaling into your daily schedule and even why you should journal.

Well, in this post, I’m gonna talk about expressive journaling. What it is and five different ways that you can creatively express your thoughts and feelings through the power of journaling. Because as we know, journaling helps you to manage your stress before your stress manages you.

What Is Expressive Journaling?

As with other forms of journaling, expressive journaling lets you de-stress and helps re-energize your mind and soul. Are you like with a lot of things going on in your mind? Try expressive journaling, it can help you declutter your brain and get your feelings out on paper where they can be examined and interpreted.

If you are a creative person, the great thing about expressive journaling is that you’re not limited to just words. Journaling like this can help you live more of your life in the moment, as you deal with the past and future in your journal.

You’ll feel less stress in your daily life without all those stressful thoughts and feelings hanging around in your brain, which will help you deal with your days with less worry and pressure.

Expressive journaling can include:

  • Poetry

  • Doodling

  • Collages

  • Drawing

  • Scrapbooking (my fav)

  • Videos

  • Audio recordings

  • And yes, even writing

How To Journal Expressively

There are many different types of expressive journals. Here I’ve listed five. You can either use them exclusively, or you can mix and match what you want when you want it and have several different components in one journal.

Art Journal

picture of painting brushes to encourage art journaling
Express 'Yoself Thru Art

Even if you don’t feel artistically talented or creative, an art journal is still an excellent idea if you like doodling and sketching. Feeling funky feelings? Turn it into a sketch. Draw an outline and then color it in with colored pencil or gel pens. You can use the opposite page to write about how you feel about what you’ve created, what inspired you to create it or any other feelings or emotions you want to express related to your creation. You could even go old school back to childhood and draw with crayon. Or use the medium of collage and color to represent how you feel about different situations. Here are some prompts to try:

  • What color represents your strongest emotion right now?

  • Draw a line. What does it represent?

  • Make a collage of what you like to do in your spare time.

  • What do you need more of in your life?

Gratitude Journal

There’s no better way to increase your feelings of appreciation, hope and joy in your life than with a gratitude journal. Everyday you can reflect on your experiences, what you’re thankful for and even lessons that you want to remember for the future. In the gratitude journal that I created, there’s room for posting pictures of those people, places, objects, and experiences you’re most grateful for. If you keep a gratitude journal, try taking it a step further and let the people you’re thankful to have in your life know how you feel! Here are some prompts to try:

  • What are 3 challenging situations you’re grateful to have overcome?

  • What makes you happy to be alive?

  • Who are the people you’re most grateful to have met?

  • What’s something you took for granted in the past that you’re grateful for now?

Dream Journal

Keeping a dream journal can really help you tap into your creativity. Each morning write down as much as you can remember of your dreams from the night before. Make sure that you leave space after each dream entry, in case while you’re reviewing the dream you have additional insights which you’re gonna want to record. Your dreams can tell you a lot about your waking life (what stressors you have, the need to increase your self-care, etc.) when they’re interpreted correctly! Here are some prompts:

  • Write down all of the characters you remember.

  • What did you see or hear in your dream?

  • What colors stood out the most in your dream?

  • What were you doing in your dream or what was being done to you?

Creative Writing Journal

If stories are your thing, try a creative writing journal. You can use it to write a short story every day, challenge yourself to write a short story in just 100, 200, or 300 words or set a timer for 10, 15 or 20 minutes and write a complete story within that time. Bonus points if the stories you write are related to an emotion you’re experiencing. These types of challenges will help you hone your skills. Here are some prompts:

  • Write a poem of no less than 100 words related to the feeling of delight.

  • Write a short story about what it means to dwell in possibility.

  • Write for 10 minutes about your favorite motivational quote.

  • Make a list of your favorite words. Now write a story about them.

Positivity Journal

Picture of Cassandra's hands as she is writing in her journal
It's All Good

This type of journal is great for helping improve your mindset. Everyday, pick something positive that happened that really inspired you or gave you joy no matter how small. Write about what happened, who was involved and how it made you feel. This type of journal can help you see the more positive side of life which helps decrease feelings of negativity overall. Here are some prompts:

  • What made me smile today?

  • Was there anything that looked exceptionally beautiful today?

  • What sights, sounds or smells intrigued me today?

  • What makes me laugh?

Bonus: Electronic Journaling

If you really don’t like to write, consider journaling electronically. You can keep a video journal diary – either on your phone, in an app or by keeping your YouTube videos private. You might also consider audio recordings. Again, you could keep them on your phone or use an app.

For instance, you can make a quick video about something that made you smile on any given day or you can make an audio recording about why you’re grateful to have that special someone in your life. It’s all up to you.

So that’s it, five different ways that you can express yourself creatively when words get in the way. It’s all about making time.

Let’s talk! What kind of expressive journaling are you going to try? Let me know in the comments section.


Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, wellness coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. In her spare time, she enjoys papercrafting, volunteering and travel. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In

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