Embrace mindfulness with creative journaling

Author and illustrator Kia Marie Hunt shares how journaling can be a way to express your creativity as well as boost your mental health.
A person writing in a scrapbook, the pages filled with photos and stickers.

Letting your thoughts flow onto the page of a journal can be an inspiring creative release, but it's also a great way to reflect on how you're feeling. Spending as little as 20 minutes a day journaling can boost your sense of wellbeing, especially when you know it will only ever be seen by your eyes. And the really brilliant thing? Anyone can do it. There are no rules, only the paper in front of you ready to convey whatever it is you're feeling that day – whether that's through words, drawings, collage, or printing out your own photos.

Author, illustrator and journaler Kia Marie Hunt is the creator of a series of kids' activity journals, My Awesome Year. She also runs her own Etsy stationery store, and produces monthly journaling kits for her growing Journal Club community.

For Kia, this has been a lifelong creative outlet. "I used to say that I first got into creative journaling as a way to record memories during a year travelling in Uruguay and Brazil," she says. "But I've recently discovered loads of handmade journals from my childhood. Apparently I've always loved creative journaling – I just had to find my way back to it."

Journaling is also a great way to get to know yourself, says Kia, who has 15.7k Instagram followers for her account @kia.creates and also runs the Instagram page @inspiringjournals. "As well as being a cathartic activity, having a journal as a space for pure expression, without expectations or limitations, is so liberating. You gradually get to know more about yourself every time you create," she says.

1. Find your journaling style

A person holding an open journal crammed with colourful drawings and stickers in front of a packed bookshelf.

"Journaling is about capturing a moment and preserving it for the future you to read back," says Kia, "but it's about enjoying the present too."

A woman typing on a pink and white computer keyboard.

"A journaling process is like a fingerprint, every one is unique and there's no right way to do it," says Kia. "For me, journaling starts with adding colour to the page, usually with decorations that are relevant to the theme. I spend a long time printing photos, selecting stickers and choosing washi [decorative adhesive] tape," she explains.

Whether your style is minimalist and bold, or you love a rainbow of colour, let your personality shine through – and that might vary every time you open your journal.

"To finish a spread, I fill up the space with doodles and more stickers," adds Kia. "I really don't stop until the page is full because that's how I like it. For me, more is more – but that's definitely not to everyone's taste!"

2. Choose a topic

A top down image showing a woman's organised desk, with rolls of washi tape next to an open journal.
A person peeling a sticker off to place it into a journal.

There are all kinds of different ways to journal – documenting dreams, one-line-a-day entries, unsent letters – and you can experiment as you go, or have different notebooks for each.

"There are so many journaling sub-communities," says Kia. "Bullet journaling can be quite neat and minimalistic, focused on planning your days, weeks or months and tracking habits and goals. Junk journaling is using your journal almost as a scrapbook, sticking in anything and everything: leaflets, tickets, lace, string, paper, material – you name it!"

A daily gratitude log can be a great way to bring positivity into your life. "It's a way to record things you are grateful for, big or small," says Kia. "It sounds simple, but shifting to that mindset can really change your life.

"The best way to find your favourite kind of journaling is to experiment," she adds. "Try all kinds of things and don't limit yourself – no one needs to fit into just one journaling 'box'. Variety is fun."

3. Get creative with print

A woman in a dress with sunflowers on it holding a print from her PIXMA printer.

"I love the high print quality I can get from the Canon PIXMA TS5340 printer. There's something really fulfilling about printing, making, and then using my own sticker designs in my journaling," says Kia.

A person holding a Canon Zoemini as it prints out images.

The 2x3 inch prints produced by the Canon Zoemini are perfect for adding into a journal, and not only that but they are printed on sticky-backed paper so you won't need any glue.

Journalers and crafters alike can also use their home printers to make an endless supply of new and imaginative journal materials, just as Kia does with her Canon PIXMA TS5340 printer.

"Sometimes I create designs digitally with Adobe® Illustrator®* and send them straight to the printer over wireless. Other times I create my designs by hand and use the PIXMA to scan them before editing. Seeing a sticker sheet design right through from idea to physical item is so satisfying.

"I've been loving adding photos to my journal spreads," she says. "I began with photos from trips or days out when journaling about travel memories, but I've started to print more and more, capturing all kinds of moments such as flowers on a walk, or the way the sun looked in my studio on a particular afternoon."

Kia uses the pocket-sized bluetooth Canon Zoemini printer to create instant 2x3in sticky printouts to layer onto her paper simply by connecting to a smartphone.

"Being able to snap the photos on my phone, add a filter using the Canon Mini Print App, quickly send it straight to the Canon Zoemini and print it directly onto sticker paper is amazing. It adds such a nice feeling of synergy to the process – I can capture a moment and add it to my journal almost instantly."

The Canon Mini Print App has a large selection of customizable stickers, borders, and text fonts so you can play around and personalise your images before you print them off.

4. Make it uniquely yours

A person pressing down an ink stamp into a busy journal page.
A woman photographing her open journal with her Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III.

"I use my Canon PowerShot G7 X Mark III to capture small clips of the journaling process, and to take photos of my finished pages," says Kia. "I can connect to my phone via wireless and easily transfer any photos or videos. Then I make any edits on my phone and I can share the journaling content with my community on the same day."

You can use the Canon Mini Print App, which is compatible with the Canon Zoemini and Canon Zoemini S, to showcase your personality and mood with frames, filters, doodles and more. But it doesn't just stop at stickers and photos – Kia builds up her journal with all sorts of resourceful items.

"I love to build texture by adding printed materials like folded pages or envelopes. It's nice to add interactive elements to the page," she says. "I have one junk journal I use just in October that's solely dedicated to the Halloween Journal Challenge I host each year. It's super textured, with ripped, tea-stained pages, filled with lace, wax seals and spooky prints, and tied together with string!"

There are limitless ways to let your inner creative run wild, and Kia's pages show how her photos, bespoke stickers and beautiful handwriting give her journal personality.

"Once the page is decorated, I pick up a pen and start writing. I don't usually give too much thought to it. I practise what I call 'free-writing' and fill up the space with the words that come out. Don't overthink it and don't worry if it's messy or has spelling mistakes – it doesn't matter."

"Being able to share my creative process and finished journal spreads with the journalling community on social media is really important to me, because it's where I connect with other people who love journaling," says Kia.

The wonderful thing about journaling is that your process is all your own. All you need is a notebook to start creating magic.

Written by Lorna Dockerill

*Adobe and Illustrator are either registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe in the United States and/or other countries.

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