The Beginner's Guide To Audio Journaling

You may have heard of the emotional and mental benefits of regularly expressing your innermost feelings through a journaling practice (via Psych Central), but sometimes putting pen to paper is easier said than done. Whether it's time constraints, uncertainty when it comes to what to write, or even feelings of boredom — journaling just isn't everyone's cup of tea. But it really is the stream-of-consciousness flow that guides us into our clarity, and you don't necessarily need to write down anything in order to experience the therapeutic benefits of expressing your feelings.


This, of course, leads us to audio journaling — the answer for anyone on the go or who simply doesn't love sitting down to journal in a notebook. Audio journaling is just what it sounds like, speaking your thoughts and feelings out loud and recording them on your phone. "You aren't trying to write eloquently, or even communicate with another person in a way that they'll understand — you just vent," Dr. Charryse Johnson, LCMHC, NCC, a psychotherapist and mindfulness practitioner, told Bustle. If you aren't fond of writing or are even slightly intrigued by the idea, this one's for you. Luckily, if you aren't too familiar with audio journaling, we can help. After all, implementing a new practice is always best done with some guidance. In this case, we will take you through the steps to a successful audio journaling adventure, which includes navigating the awkward phase of learning to talk to yourself.


Set aside designated time for your entry

You may find that you prefer to release your thoughts and sift through your plans for the day when you first wake up. An intentional morning routine can shift the direction of your day, and audio journaling is a great way to begin. "By focusing on planning your day, you tap into your positive psychology. If you say out loud some actions and goals, then you're more likely to achieve them," Elizabeth Lucy, public health specialist and healthy weight expert who uses journaling in her practice, told Journify. However, getting started on your journaling journey will take some intention. It'll likely feel funny at first to speak into your memos on your phone, but over time it'll become second nature. If audio journaling in the privacy of your bedroom at first feels a little safer, then do just that.


Some prefer to journal before bed after the day's events have wrapped up to reflect on what happened and how they're feeling. If you do your audio journaling in the evenings, remove yourself and retreat to a quiet area where you can freely talk without feeling self-conscious. There's no wrong way to do this, and there are a lot of journaling styles out there, so whatever comes up in your session is worthwhile. You should have more content to talk about if you audio journal at night since the day is over, but speaking whenever feels the most therapeutic for you is key.

Choose an app or set of prompts

If the free flow of thought is leaving you with some empty silences, and it likely will, which is totally normal, using an audio journaling app or choosing some prompts to speak on will direct your experience. OneNote, Google Keep, Evernote, Otter, and Apple Pages are all great apps to start your audio journaling journey (via Journaling Habit) and keep your thoughts in an organized place.


If you do prefer to have some more solid direction in your journaling, following prompts that ask you to list all the things that are going well for you right now or how it feels to let go of that what no longer serves you can bring a lot of clarity and momentum to the direction you'd like your day to go. If a concerning or heavier topic is on your heart, sometimes simply getting it off your chest can really lift the weight and bring the relief you're seeking.

Try audio journaling while walking in nature

Sometimes, a simple walk in nature can really open the doors of the mind and reveal solutions you previously hadn't considered. Taking your phone with you and doing an audio journaling session during your walk might leave you with some surprising results, much like the deeper conversations that seem to emerge when you walk with a good friend. More strenuous trails are probably not ideal for audio journaling, but leisurely, scenic walks, where you can get your thoughts flowing, are ideal.


You may be a bit apprehensive when coming upon others along your trail or anytime you're audio journaling in public, but most probably won't pay much mind to someone speaking into their phone, for you could just as easily be on a phone call. Plus, you may feel inspired to speak on what you see and hear during your walk and intertwine the elements of place into your audio journaling entry, which could feel grounding for some.

You don't have to listen to your recordings

It's common to cringe a bit when you hear the sound of your recorded voice, and you definitely don't have to put yourself through that if you fall into that camp. The point of audio journaling is the expression, not a reexamination of your thoughts and feelings. You may be wondering why recording is necessary at all in that case, and essentially, the answer is to keep your process organized, see how long your entries are, and of course, not feel like you're just talking to yourself. "If listening to the recording isn't advantageous, free yourself and press delete," Dr. Carla Marie Manly, Ph.D., a clinical psychologist, told Bustle. "The simple act of deleting a recorded journal entry is a perfect metaphor for the practice of letting go of negative energy and stress throughout the day."


You may find that you do, in fact, want to listen to your recordings in retrospect and gain some insight into how you were feeling during a particular time period or before a big breakthrough occurred. This is another perk of having your sessions recorded — just like reading old diaries can be nostalgic and insightful. That said, refrain from any self-judgment or criticism if you decide to listen to your audio journaling. After all, the purpose of this is the process, not the product.

If you're stumped, pretend you're in an interview

If you're feeling beyond awkward about talking to yourself and recording your ramblings, use your imagination. Many of us may daydream in the shower or on a long drive about what we'd say if we were interviewed for a podcast or talk show. Use that imaginary scenario for your audio journaling. It's your process, and you can certainly take center stage if you'd like. You could answer theoretical questions about your past, your art or work, your relationship, how you got to where you are, and where you plan to get to, or even lighter, fun stories would also get the ball rolling.


Audio journaling can be an incredibly creative tool for your imagination and even your manifestations. After all, energy goes where attention flows, right? You could also explore speaking as though your desire has already come to fruition and you're being interviewed about your success. These kinds of visualizations done with audio journaling can be quite potent when embodying what you would like to see.

Use positive affirmations as entries

Another tool for audio journaling is, of course, positive affirmation. This one is foolproof and can help you get started if you aren't feeling very chatty for your daily audio recording. Affirming what you would like to be true can shift your mood and mindset, orienting you in a way that you may feel more comfortable opening up. 'I am' statements can prove to be quite powerful too. Self-affirmations can improve your self-worth, and when the affirmations are focused upon the future rather than the past, they can inspire aligned action and success can blossom, according to the experts at Psych Central.


If you aren't feeling uplifted, positive affirmations can almost feel, well, annoying. However, if you can find the momentum to get into the zone, the practice can be effective. If listening to an inspirational speaker or positive podcast you know and love before you begin your audio journaling session lifts you into the mood you'd prefer to be in, set aside some time to do just that.

Stick with it

The first few entries will undoubtedly feel clunky and strange. But don't give up just yet. You'll soon get the hang of audio journaling with some sustained practice and commitment. Don't take it too seriously though — ease is what you're after here. The purpose is for the exercise to be therapeutic. It's not something you need to excel at. After all, you won't be sharing these with anyone, not even yourself, if you choose not to listen to them.


You could also opt to do a combination of audio and written journaling. Maybe some topics are better explored out loud, while others you'd prefer to dive into on paper and explore the depths quietly. Play with journaling exercises until you find the flow most suitable to you, your schedule, and your unique needs. Committing to a new practice takes focus and dedication, but the results are typically well worth it when it comes to your well-being.