This article includes FREE printables and resources for Educators.

If you aren’t having students journal in your classroom, now’s the time to consider starting!

Making time for students to journal in the classroom can significantly improve your classroom community. Not only does incorporating a journaling practice in the classroom give you an opportunity to better know and build relationships with your students, journaling also gives your students an outlet to process difficult emotions so they are better able to focus on being present in the classroom. Additionally, journaling can help decrease students’ stress levels, boost students’ self-confidence, and increase their memory.

As an educator, helping your students develop a consistent journaling practice can lead to higher academic scores, fewer behavior disruptions, and an overall healthier and happier classroom community.

When students write and express their feelings, they can reduce amygdala activity, which is the brain’s emotional center; this allows students to better engage their thinking brain. This is why feelings of sadness, anger, and pain are less intense after written out on paper. Help your students develop a journaling practice so they are better prepared to engage with their learning.
Learn more about how journaling can help students (and you!) manage stress in this video.

Journaling and writing about emotions can provide a lot of benefits in mental health. You can help students learn to journal with intention as a means to work through problems, identify issues causing stress and anxiety, and express gratitude.
Here’s some of the benefits students receive from journaling:

• The process of expressing feelings through writing activates the sections of the prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain connected to planning, decision making, and language. This activity in the prefrontal cortex, in turn, decreases activity in the amygdala, the part of your brain most closely associated with feelings of fear, anxiety, and aggression.

• Simply put, journaling helps recognize, process, and manage emotions, especially stress and anxiety.

• Journaling also improves self awareness, which has a positive impact on social relationships.

• Journaling is also shown to improve memory and comprehension.


Have students search their space (this could be their desk, the classroom, or their home as part of a “homework” assignment) and find at least 3 things they are grateful for. Then, have students get out their journals and reflect on why they are grateful for these items. If students are comfortable sharing, allow them to share, but understand this might be quite personal for some students. This is a journaling (and gratitude!) exercise you can do on a regular basis. .


Journaling has many benefits. One of which is that journaling can help students improve their sense of self awareness, which can have a positive impact on social relationships.

Use these journal prompts that encourage students to think about being the best version of themselves.

Students’ thoughts and feelings are always changing. It’s important for students to know this because when they’re feeling angry or sad, they begin to learn they won’t always feel that way. It will eventually change. Similarly, when students are really happy, they should be grateful for that emotion because it won’t last forever. Encourage students to write to these journal prompts to begin managing their thoughts and feelings.


• Think of the last time you were excited (alternatively: worried or sad). How long did that last?

•Reflect on a difficult moment from your past. Now that it’s in the past, was there some benefit to this experience? What did you learn from it?

• Write down the things that are causing stress, fear, and anxiety right now. Once you are done, turn the page, and write down the things that are bringing you joy.


Educators often talk about trying to help students develop a growth mindset and learn that they are able to work through problems and tackle new challenges. Journaling is a great exercise to help students develop that growth mindset. Encourage students to write to these journal prompts to foster a growth mindset. If students are comfortable sharing about what they write, you can use these journal prompts as guides for class discussions as well!

You have to make time for students to journal. It’s best to establish a routine and choose a certain time on certain days as time for journaling. This models for students that the best way to make journaling a habit is to specially set time aside for it. You also want to make sure to set enough time aside that students feel like they can complete their journal writing. Initially, when students are new to journaling, just a few minutes might be enough time to write about their thoughts and feelings. However, as students become more comfortable with the process of journaling and writing, they will most likely need more time. Include enough time that students can opt to share as well. In in-person classrooms, you can have students share with a partner or with the whole class, and in virtual classrooms, you can spend a few minutes through video conferencing sharing or students can share through online discussion boards.

Students will be more invested in journaling if they have the opportunity to personalize their journal. Giving students time to decorate a notebook or add a personalized cover-page to a journal allows students to be more invested in their journaling. For older students, you may opt for them to use a notebook as their journal, while younger students might find it beneficial to compile a journal for them that includes prompts and places to write their responses. Either way, give the students some sort of opportunity to personalize their journal.

The key to becoming comfortable with journaling, is figuring out what to write about. For students who are not used to journaling, it will probably be difficult to know what to write about without some sort of prompt. While students are new to journaling, consider providing prompts for them. You can have prompts appropriate for whatever age group you are teaching and you can have prompts that encourage students to write about many different feelings and emotions. As students get more comfortable with their journaling, more and more will probably opt to write their emotions without a prompt, but providing a prompt is still beneficial for a lot of students.

Students doing school virtually or in a one-to-one technology setting can write in a journal or type. Hand writing journal responses often allows the student to process what they are writing more, but typing a journal response often allows the student to get their response out faster. Some students may prefer typing and some may prefer writing, and that’s okay. Both are receiving the benefits that come from journaling. And of course there are some very young students who can’t yet write, these students can still journal and respond to prompts but you can encourage them to do this through drawing.

Journaling is a great opportunity to help your students develop a greater sense of self-awareness, to build stronger relationships, and learn to regulate and manage their emotions. Setting aside just a few minutes a day to journal can significantly improve your students’ emotional health and your overall classroom culture, so get out those journals, and create a great day!

Discovering The Mako Method™ (Our Framework for Managing Stress)

New Year – Same Me.    The New Year isn’t about reinventing myself. But it is a great time to reintroduce myself, and for all of us, it’s a great time for re-evaluating our goals, our work, and our intentions for the upcoming year.     I work as a stress management consultant helping people build resilience to the stress they are experiencing. I also work with teachers, mental health professionals, police officers, and others who work around stressed populations.    My goals are to:   
  1. Help people manage their stress. 
  2. Help people teach these practices to those they serve. 
  The foundation of my work is called The Mako Method™. This is my personal framework for building resilience to stress. The framework consists of different actionable strategies that I teach folks to help them navigate their way through stressful experiences.   When it comes to stress management, The Mako Method™ strives to:   
  • Make It Accessible: You don’t have to pay to go to a yoga class, or meditate for an hour – this framework consists of things you can do from anywhere on any budget. 
  • Make It Manageable: The framework is made up of actionable practices; exercises you can actually do to start managing your stress. 
  • Make It Work: The Mako Method is evidence-based strategies that have been proven to help people change the way they can process and perceive stressful information. 
  The Mako Method™ has the power to change the way we process and perceive stressful information and ultimately change the way we respond to stressful situations.   

Watch the full video to learn more about The Mako Method™ and to learn more about my journey as an entrepreneur. 

And be sure to download my FREE Mako Method Guide to start taking control of the stress in your life. 


Establishing & Enforcing Boundaries for Helping Professionals

As a caregiver or helping professional, you give a lot of yourself to the people you serve.    You give your TIME, your ATTENTION, your EMPATHY, your PATIENCE, and COMPASSION   You do this because you want to provide the best care possible for those you serve, and that’s awesome, but *WHEW* all of that giving can be quite draining.    If you don’t learn to set AND enforce some boundaries, you run the risk of continuing to take on more & more responsibilities until you are no longer effectively able to serve because you’re bogged down by feelings of burnout, exhaustion, and possibly even resentment.      But let’s be honest, enforcing boundaries can be tough.    Here are 3 of my tips for establishing & enforcing your boundaries and protecting yourself from burnout and compassion fatigue:   
  1. Reflect and Prioritize – Make a list of the things you need time for in order to be happy, healthy, and able to provide care for others. Make these things a priority.
  1. Learn to Delegate. When you recognize you’re stressed or starting to develop feelings of anger & frustration, know that it’s time to ask for help! 
  1. Accept the Guilt, and Move On. Don’t be ashamed of feelings of guilt as you start to enforce your boundaries – that guilt’s a reminder of your generosity & desire to help! But don’t let that guilt trick you into altering your boundaries. Acknowledge feelings of guilt and then move forward with your boundaries still in place. 

Want to learn more about boundaries and making sure you can recharge so you can be more fully present and compassionate as you support others? Check my Cost of Care course!


Journal Prompts for Managing Thoughts & Feelings

Your thoughts and feelings are always changing. It’s important to know this because when you’re feeling angry or sad, you know that you won’t always feel that way. It will eventually change. And when you’re really happy, you won’t try to make it last forever, because that’s impossible. Everything changes.  Have you ever felt really down or sad and felt like things would always be that way? No matter how strong those feelings are, something shifts and you realize with time that those feelings have changed. That’s the nature of our emotions; they give us information but they are not who we are. 


  • Think of the last time you were excited (alternatively: worried or sad). How long did that last?
  • Reflect on a difficult moment from your past. Now that it’s in the past, was there some benefit to this experience? What did you learn from it?
  • Write down the things that are causing stress, fear, and anxiety right now. Once you are done, turn the page, and write down the things that are bringing you joy. 

Journal Prompts for Watching Your Thoughts

Sometimes we tell ourselves (in our minds) about how good or bad we are, about what we can or can’t do, or about other people. When we notice these stories, we can step back from them and decide if we want to believe them or not. If we are aware of them, the stories no longer have so much power over our actions. Noticing our thoughts gives us the power to change them if we want. You can notice your stories or thought patterns by watching your thoughts come and go.  Watching your thoughts is different from “thinking.” When you watch your thoughts, you try not to get carried away by any one thought or fear or fantasy. 

  • Can you think of any beliefs you had about yourself in the past? Do you think these beliefs were helpful or harmful to you?
  • Write about some of the things you think you should do. Then, write about some of the things you think you shouldn’t do. Why do you think you feel pressure to do or not do these things? What do you think is stopping you from starting or stopping these habits? 
  • What strengths and what weaknesses do you think you have? Why do you consider certain traits strengths, and why do you see other traits as weaknesses? Can you try writing about the things you consider weaknesses as additional strengths instead?

Journal Prompts for Focusing Inward vs. Focusing Outward

You always have the ability to focus outward or focus inward. Focusing outward means paying attention to what’s happening around you. Focusing inward means paying attention to what’s happening inside you: your breath, your feelings, and your thoughts. Most people are good at focusing their attention outward – on their friends, on their phone, or on what people around them are doing. Focusing outward can keep us safe and help us read social cues. It is equally important to be able to focus inward. If you don’t, you might not notice your thoughts or feelings until they get really strong and start to affect your behavior. Another thing, we tend to hold onto negative comments from others much more strongly than positive ones. If we’re not careful, negative comments can affect us for weeks, months, or even years!


  • Do you spend more time focusing outward on what’s going on around you, or focused inward on yourself?
  • Write about some of the people in your life. Think of the people you spend the most time with and reflect on how they impact your life. How do you feel about yourself after spending time with them? In what ways do they affect your thoughts and behaviors?
  • While trying to ignore outward definitions, what do the words success, happiness, love, courage, and harmony mean to you?

Jotting Down The Good

Stress from work, friends, family, and mundane routines have a tendency to put us in a pattern of negative thinking that literally feeds on itself and creates more stress and unhappiness for us.

This cycle of negativity that develops from prolonged stress can lead to irritability, more stress, insecurity, anxiety, depression and so much more. So, it’s important to find a way to cultivate a positive attitude that can reprogram our thoughts to be dominantly positive, break the cycle of negativity, and start bringing some good stuff into our lives.

One of the ways you can shift your mindset out of the negative is by gratitude journaling.

Writing can be a great release. Often, when we write about things that make us feel good, we generate a feeling of gratitude. You might find that a gratitude journal is the best approach for incorporating a gratitude practice into your schedule. 

How you decide to go about this gratitude journaling practice is up to you. Maybe you’ll have a journal solely used for gratitude purposes or maybe you’ll use a journal that you use for a handful of purposes. Some people have a personalized journal or use one that was given to them that evokes some type of emotion or sense of importance. Maybe you’ll find journaling in the morning right after you wake up works best, or maybe you’ll find writing in the evenings is a better fit. For some people, writing by hand feels easiest, while others prefer to type. Allow yourself to be flexible as you find the approach that works best for you, but do try to put some effort into sticking to a gratitude journaling routine. Once you get into the habit of gratitude journaling, you will find endless benefits.

Here are some tips for success as you start your gratitude journaling practice. 

Positive Words, ONLY: Don’t use this space as an area to vent out the negative. Stay focused on the good stuff. Do NOT fix your pen to write the words “don’t, can’t, won’t, not” – none of it. Use positive words, only.   Use Prompts: Writing prompts are a great way to help your gratitude practice and process come easier. I would aim to write about 5-10 things each day. Here are some of the prompts I use: “I am so grateful for..” “I always feel good when..” “Today was amazing because…”   Be Genuine: Please don’t do this if it feels like a chore. If it’s too much of a hassle, we can find you something that is a better fit. Allow this to be something therapeutic for you. A release, that pours right back into you. The worst thing you can do with your gratitude practice is simply go through the motions. In order to really reap the benefits you have to cultivate the feeling of goodness and thankfulness. You have to make a conscious decision to make an effort to be more grateful. You need to be able to feel what you write and believe that it’s true.   Speak It Into Existence: I don’t use my gratitude journal just for the things I’m grateful for now. I write about the things I’m grateful for in advance because I know the potential of my mind and positive thinking. “I am so blessed in my business. I work with 8 clients per week to help them strengthen their yoga/mindfulness practice. “I am so thankful for all of this opportunity through A Peace of Yoga. I work with the best and the brightest everyday to master my craft and become great at what I do.”   There’s No Right Time: While I do advise you to start writing down things that you’re grateful for in the morning, don’t limit yourself to that time frame. As good things happen to you throughout the day, write them down! I like to jot down a few feel goods before I call it a night too. It leaves me with a sense of peace and oftentimes I awake with that same sense of gratitude. It’s okay to journal when times are bad too. Use this as a tool to help shift you into a better mood by reflecting on the things that make you feel good. You can’t be mad and grateful at the same time. It’s just how it works. So choose gratitude. Turn the negatives into positives – but only write in the positive tense. Does that make sense? So for example: “My relationship didn’t work out.. (insert name) turned out to be a waste of time, but at least now I have time to focus on myself and know what I want.”


DO NOT Waste Your Energy Throwing Shade in Your Journal.

Try this: I am thankful I have time to work on myself and I know that when the time is right  I will attract the perfect partner with all the qualities I desire. Maybe elaborate from there on what that relationship will look like..Have a little fun with it.

See the difference. The key is to Stay. In. The. Good. Don’t even acknowledge the negatives. This is specifically about GRATITUDE. 

  Elaborate:  Depth over Breadth. So, I just mentioned elaborating on your journal entries. Explore what you really feel by going in depth on what you’re grateful for. This will help you in the genuine department. Make it clear what you’re writing about so that if you were to go back a year from now you could understand what you felt in that moment and maybe even regenerate that good feeling. There is a big difference between: “I am so grateful for my favorite student, Alex.” & “I am so grateful for my favorite student, Alex. That boy cracks me up everyday. Today, I convinced him that he set the school on fire with his magic powers (we had a fire drill) and had him confess on video…   Don’t Rush: Give yourself time with this exercise. Don’t just jot it down and run out the door. Write it, absorb it, feel good about it.   Mix it Up & Get Creative: Don’t put the same things everyday. Continuously find reasons to be grateful. I know people who use ticket stubs, pictures, receipts, etc. as prompts to reflect on. I personally like to keep a picture or two of my niece, Aria, laying around. She’s amazing too.    But This Is Corny…Listen, if you find something that makes you feel good and helps you to live a life you enjoy, you need to keep doing that. No one has to know that you do this, or that you repeat affirmations in your mirror, or that you say “thank you” to yourself with every step. This is a process for you and if it feels a little weird, great. It’s good to step outside of your comfort zone!   Just Be Patient: Most studies will say it takes 21 days to form a habit so let’s give it three weeks before we give up and say it isn’t for us. After all, according to my audience, we’re probably dealing with at least 20 something years of mostly negative thinking. It’s going to take some time for the brain to get used to this new way of thinking.  

The goal here is to get to a point where your brain automatically defaults to looking for the good in every situation. You want to make gratitude what your brain looks for when it needs to feel good. Always searching for something positive, always pulling away something positive from every circumstance. What you will learn overtime is that your thoughts are like any muscle, the more you exercise them, the stronger they become. Positive thoughts reap positive results. Negative thoughts reap negative results. So, stay in the good. Happy journaling and as always, create a great day.