Whether you’re eight or 80, journalling can be a great way to make sense of your world. While the pandemic had us downloading meditation and even social media detox apps, digital journalling—pen to paper 2.0—is a powerful tool for continued self-discovery.
For some, it can be more natural to have an iPad in hand than a physical journal, and this crop of digital journalling apps serve as the handy, interactive medium to capture dreams and process feelings.
“Journalling is a means of communication between both our conscious minds and unconscious psyche. As we allow for the chatty mind to quieten and allow our hands to free-flow without filtering and judgement, pretty potent truths may pour out,” says Stephanie Chaunte Leong.
Leong explains that when we remain present with our writing, we “drop into a flow state, which may feel similar to meditation. These are different pathways to the same destination, meeting ourselves at a deeper level.”
Benefits of journalling
Maximillian Chen, clinical psychologist at Annabelle Psychology and part of WhiteCoat’s tele-health mental wellness team describes mindfulness as, “a state in which we are aware of where we are, what we are doing, and how we are feeling, without being overly reactive and overwhelmed. It’s an ability that we humans all have and need to practise so as to engage in it more easily and intentionally.”
For Chen, all good stress management strategies tend to incorporate an element of mindfulness. “Journalling has also been suggested by research studies to improve mood and overall wellbeing, lower anxiety, and may even provide some benefits to our physical health. Writing about ourselves, our thoughts, emotions and behaviours builds self-awareness and personal growth, and can help us analyse our sources of stress as well.”
“As we go through our days, our thoughts might become dimly perceived or disorganised. Journalling can help us to become more aware of our judgements, fears, worries, hopes, and thoughts,” explains the psychologist. “The act of writing them out also helps us to fully articulate and organise our thoughts, allowing us to make better sense of them. As we record down our experiences and thoughts, they can be experienced with less emotional pull.” The key is then using these thought patterns as data, to understand how they relate to external situations and behaviours.
“When we journal for only ourselves, without any filtering, or having it be performative, such as sharing it on social media, we remove some internal blocks which then allows us to come into contact with our psyche/soul/unconscious,” says Leong.
Best digital journal apps for iPad
If you find a notebook too limiting, consider the multi-functional iPad, which enables you to not only take charge of your productivity and goals, but aid in digital journalling and doodling.
“Journalling approaches can be varied. They range from structured to unstructured, specific to general, visual, verbal or mixed. Different journalling approaches lend themselves better to different goals. Through periodic check-ins on our ‘whys’ and adjusting where needed, we can achieve our own ‘best’ approach through experiments and practice over time,” says Chen. “Let go of your perfectionistic tendencies and expectations. At its core, journalling is an act of self-care.”
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Goodnotes is a digital journalling and note-taking app that enables users to draw, doodle, sketch, plan for and write about their day. While the app offers various pages and ‘paper’ formats, aesthetic Goodnotes templates and digital stickers can also be purchased via Etsy and uploaded to the iPad. The app gives users the option to hand-write their thoughts and ideas using the Apple pen, or type and import images into the app.
“Draw big circle that represents your day,” advises Leong. “Within the circle, to doodle or write the emotions that came up during the day, without needing to justify or reason why. For each emotion, give them a speech bubble, for them to express what they wish to say.”
For user security, all data is stored and synced on iCloud to all devices, enabling you easy access to your thoughts and plans when you’re on the go.
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Sleep, nutrition, and other lifestyle factors play a significant role in our mental health. Recognising this, Moodfit, marries these trackers with mood and gratitude journalling, cognitive behavioural techniques, mindfulness and breathwork.
A shadow work expert, Leong says: “The deeper or lesser-known parts of us begin to emerge, knowing that there is a safe space to be seen and held. This safety lets our shadow parts express more freely, as we begin to feel into the emotions these parts may be carrying. This is why journalling is both cathartic and healing.
“As we process with words, our minds may be met with memories from the past. Our bodies can feel what wasn’t safe to feel before at the time of the experience, and the emotions can then transform.”
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This two-in-one digital diary and planner is great for those looking to create a visual record. Making mindful journalling fun, Zinnia aids in habit tracking and adds life and colour to otherwise overwhelming to-do lists and weekly logs.
If you’re not up for writing down your feelings, why not make a digital collage with Zinnia’s digital library of washi tape, stickers, artist-curated fonts and other decorative elements to truly personalise and keep you creatively motivated. While your journal is protected with iCloud syncing, you’re also able to save your work as PDFs or share directly to Instagram, Facebook or Pinterest.