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Home arrow Health arrow Mental Health arrow The 10 Best Journaling Apps for Mindful Self-Discovery

The 10 Best Journaling Apps for Mindful Self-Discovery

Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: August 1, 2023
9 min read 1105 Views 0 Reviews
clock 9 eye 1105 comments 0

Discover the perfect companions for your journey of self-discovery and personal growth with these top-rated journaling apps.

best journaling app

How do we vet brands and products? Learn more.

In recent years, we’ve experienced a profound shift in the realm of mental health. 

Increased awareness surrounding the importance of mental well-being has led to a rise in products and services created to support it.

Journaling apps, in particular, have shown promise in helping people express their innermost thoughts and track their feelings over extended periods.

If you’re looking for the best app to help you make journaling a regular habit, we’ve got you covered. Here’s everything you need to know about the 10 best journal apps.

#1 Best Overall star
Sensa Health logo
4.5
stars
  • Includes guided meditations
  • Constantly evolving content based on CBT techniques
  • Helps to deal with stress and anxiety
  • Digital journal only available on the paid version
  • Doesn’t offer therapy

 

 

 

Visit Sensa
Visit Sensa
#2
CBT Thought Diary logo
4.5
stars
  • Provides educational resources about CBT
  • Offers mood tracking features
  • Free version has limited features
  • Meditations only available for iOS users
#3
happyfeed logo
4.4
stars
  • Budget-friendly
  • Entries can be shared with friends
  • Only paid version is available
  • No option for a long-term journaling

The 10 Best Journaling Apps

With so many online digital journal apps, it can be hard to decide which is the best fit for you! In this next section, we will give readers a detailed overview of each of the best journal apps – including their unique features – to make your decision easier.

#1 Sensa 

Sensa Health logo
Our rating:
4.5
stars
  • Lessons based on the CBT method
  • Mood journal
  • Challenges & self-improvement activities
  • Quick relief function
  • Assessments to help you grow
Start Sensa Quiz Now

Sensa isn’t a typical journaling app. After learning about the powerful effects of journaling on reducing anxiety and depression, the Sensa team decided to make a one-stop shop for all the resources their users might need to improve their mental well-being. 

Along with all the features you would expect to find in one of the best journaling and mental health apps, like a mood tracker and diary, Sensa also includes multiple features used in cognitive behavioral therapy.

Things like CBT lessons, activities designed to make building habits easier, and Quick-Relief exercises that you can use when feeling stressed really set Sensa apart from the competition.

Weekly assessments help users watch their progress over time and make it easier to commit to using a digital journey daily and enjoy all the benefits of a daily journaling practice.

Pros
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    Discounts available for longer subscriptions
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    Includes meditations
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    Weekly wellness assessments for all users
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    Uses CBT techniques
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    Focuses on mental well-being
Cons
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    Journaling feature is only available in the premium version
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    A 1-month subscription can be pricey

#2 Happyfeed

happyfeed logo
Our rating:
4.4
stars
  • Available on iOS, Android, and web
  • Option to include photos in the daily tracker
  • Focuses on gratitude
Learn More

Journaling is a staple in positive psychology and, when turned into a daily routine, has the power to make real change.

That’s why the creators of Happyfeed decided to create a diary app designed to help users easily record and reflect upon their day every day. 

It offers features that allow you to store your photos and short descriptions in the form of a gratitude journal. The latter feature is scientifically proven to contribute to greater feelings of happiness.

After storing your photos and text for each day, you can send your entry to friends that are a part of your Happyfeed “pod.” You can also shake your phone to have a random memory pop up when you need a boost.

Pros
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    Web version available
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    Option to share your entries with friends
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    Includes photo journal feature
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    Gratitude journal prompts
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    Budget friendly ($3.99/month)
Cons
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    No resources for improving mental conditions
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    No weekly assessments

#3 Reflectly

Reflectly logo
Our rating:
4.2
stars
  • Designed to help users create a daily journaling habit
  • Provides daily journal prompts
Learn More

Reflectly is one of the best journaling apps available for people craving additional support in making journaling a daily routine. It’s also ideal for anyone who isn’t ready to commit to paid journaling or diary apps since most of its features are free.

The sign-up process is super simple, and after installing the app, the easy-to-use interface allows you to dive right in. Take advantage of the daily journal prompts designed to help provoke deeper thinking than staring at a blank page. 

Mood tracking features help you log your feelings over time so that you can easily track how you’re feeling, and the graphs used for the mood tracking feature are also easier to read than many journal apps, making it very user-friendly.

Reflectly uses multiple reminders and personalized daily challenges to help users stay consistent with their new journaling habits.

Pros
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    Fun and easy to use
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    Most features available in the free version
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    Includes talk-to-text feature for journaling
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    Provides daily journal prompts
Cons
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    Talk-to-text feature can be glitchy
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    No resources for improving mental health
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    No web version

#4 Daylio

Daylio logo
Our rating:
4.0
stars
  • Offers a comprehensive mood and activity tracker
  • Easy-to-use journaling feature
Learn More

Looking for a journaling app that offers a variety of features? Then Daylio is just for you!

From tracking your mood and daily activities with just a click of a button to creating detailed journal entries about your day, Daylio includes all the features you could want from a journal app and more!

The app is completely customizable and offers one of the widest varieties of settings that we have seen in a diary app. It also allows users to review their previous day, month, or year in simplified charts and graphs.

Users also have the option to set daily goals for themselves, which can then be tracked using the app to measure success and enhance motivation. We also love that journal entries can be password protected to shelter them from prying eyes.

Pros
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    Completely customizable
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    Ability to secure personal information
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    Super budget-friendly ($3.99/month)
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    Versatile tracking options
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    Interactive and fun to use
Cons
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    Doesn’t offer journaling prompts
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    Can be difficult to manage so many features
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    Free version offers limited features

#5 Momento

momento logo
Our rating:
3.9
stars
  • Integrate activity from social media feeds
  • Stores a variety of information, photos, videos, notes, and locations
Learn More

Momento is a journal that you can use to record notes, photos, videos, locations, and the people you visited with, all in one place. It also syncs with your social networks and apps, with the option to import activity from Facebook, Twitter, and even saved songs from Spotify.

This diary app is ideal for anyone going to work, traveling, or with a generally busy life. It allows users to quickly view daily, monthly, and yearly summaries, with the option to share their memories with their loved ones at the touch of a button.

Pros
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    Password protected for secure storage
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    Stores a variety of information, including notes, photos, and videos
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    Connects with popular social platforms
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    Option to store entries locally and on iCloud
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    Very budget-friendly ($2.99/month)
Cons
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    Backup features can be temperamental
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    No mental health resources

#6 Penzu 

Penzu logo
Our rating:
4.1
stars
  • Most like a normal journal
  • Variety of journaling formats for users
Learn More

Penzu is an all-in-one journal app that allows users to combine multiple journals into one easy location. Enjoy digital journaling in designs created specifically for over 30 functions, including logging your food, tracking your pregnancy, and recording your dreams.

With Penzu, you have a digital journaling tool that you can take anywhere. Use it to record your innermost thoughts and feelings worry-free, thanks to military-grade encryption software. 

Although extremely easy, Penzu does not offer interactive features or multiple reminders to help keep users on track with their journaling habits.

Pros
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    Extremely simple to use
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    Free version available
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    Yearly subscription is extremely discounted ($19.99)
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    Unique journal designs like a pregnancy or dream journal
Cons
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    No option to back up stored information
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    Customer support is limited
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    No features to help users journal regularly

 #7 5 Minute Journal

5 Minute Journal logo
Our rating:
4.0
stars
  • Utilizes principles from positive psychology
  • Uses gratitude practices to enhance user happiness
Learn More

5 Minute Journal is a digital journaling app that uses the principles of positive psychology to enhance the happiness of its users. It provides users with writing prompts that can be completed in under 5 minutes, centered around gratitude and self-reflection.

Along with a strong focus on journaling as a form of self-reflection, 5 Minute Journal also provides users with a mood tracker and guides for mindful living. You also have a notes section which can be used for more long-form digital journaling. 

Turn on your app alerts for regular reminders to complete your daily journal entry, and experience all the benefits of a regular journaling practice in under 5 minutes a day.

Pros
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    Features allow users to create regular journaling habits
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    Users are given journal prompts for self-reflection
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    Based on principles of positive psychology
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    Includes mood tracker and guides for mindfulness
Cons
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    Free version offers limited features
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    Sometimes glitchy after software updates
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    Limited resources for improving mental wellness

#8 CBT Thought Diary

CBT Thought Diary logo
Our rating:
4.5
stars
  • Uses CBT techniques
  • Offers a variety of guided journal entries
Learn More

CBT Thought Diary is a great journal app that focuses on improving the mental well-being of its users through education and improved mindfulness. 

It uses a variety of CBT techniques to help users become aware of negative thinking patterns and provides them with the resources they need to overcome them.

Though CBT Thought Diary is technically a free journal app, many of its best features are only available through purchasing the premium membership. 

For between $4.99–9.99 per month, users can access a library full of educational courses, have daily mood check-ins, or choose from a wide variety of guided journal prompts. 

With the premium membership, users can also export journal entries and mood statistics, which can be shared more easily with a healthcare professional.

Pros
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    Free version available
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    Uses proven CBT techniques
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    Meditations available for iOS users
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    Premium version is still inexpensive
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    Educational resources about CBT available to users
Cons
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    Premium version is required to access the best features
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    Limited features for Android users

#9 Dabble Me

Dabble Me logo
Our rating:
3.8
stars
  • Incredibly beginner-friendly
  • Simply send an email to create journal entries
Learn More

Looking for a journal app that will fit seamlessly into your busy schedule? Dabble Me is super simple to use and doesn’t require learning how to manage a new app.

It allows users to submit their daily journal entries by simply responding to a daily email sent out by the Dabble Me team. Every day, you will receive an email straight to your inbox asking how your day went.

Attached to this email is an entry from the previous day. It could be from last week, last month, or last year, and it serves as a simple reminder and an opportunity to take time away from your busy schedule to check in with yourself.

In new entries, users can add photos, videos, or even their favorite Spotify song from that day. From Dabble Me’s web version, users can also access their old posts to edit or delete them. 

Pros
  • checkmark
    Super easy to use
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    Premium version only costs $3/month
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    Can be accessed via your email inbox
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    Daily emails help keep users motivated to journal
Cons
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    Not interactive
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    Most features can only be accessed through paid version
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    Limited features

#10 Symple app

Symple app logo
Our rating:
4.2
stars
  • Allows users to thoroughly track their physical health
  • Imports information from Apple Health
Learn More

If you need a journal app that will allow you to record much more than just your thoughts and feelings, Symple can help. 

It is an app designed to help you take back control of your health and wellness and gives you all the tools you need to track and study the factors influencing how you feel.

Symple allows you to log everything from the moment you wake up until you’re ready to go to bed. Users can keep track of physical symptoms they might be experiencing that day, the food they’ve eaten, and even import things like steps and sleep data from Apple Health.

Users also have the option to include relevant photos from their day and use the notes feature to record any important information they might want to remember. Everything is stored within the app until you or your healthcare provider use the calendar feature to pull up details about specific days.

Pros
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    Can be used to manage mental and physical health issues
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    Connects with Apple Health
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    Beginner-friendly and easy to use
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    Allows users to record detailed information about their health
Cons
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    Doesn’t include journal prompts
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    A subscription is required to access all the features
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    More focused on physical health than mental well-being

Best Journaling Apps Comparison

Comparison Winner: Sensa
4.5
stars
4.5
stars
4.4
stars
4.2
stars
4.2
stars
4.1
stars
4.0
stars
4.0
stars
3.9
stars
3.8
stars
Brand
Sensa
CBT Thought Diary
Happyfeed
Reflectly
Symple
Penzu
Daylio
5 Minute Journal
Momento
Dabble Me
Pros

Longer subscriptions are heavily discounted

Includes guided meditations

Provides educational resources about CBT

Offers mood-tracking features

Budget-friendly price

Entries can be shared with friends

Very user-friendly

Free 1-week trial

Many features are available for free

Very beginner-friendly and easy to use

Yearly subscriptions are heavily discounted

Military-grade data encryptions for secure storage

Option to use password protection

Very budget-friendly

Fully customizable

Paid version is only $4.99

Variety of daily journal prompts provided for users

Budget-friendly pricing options

Password protected for privacy

Web version can be used to manage posts

Premium version is only $3/month

Grid diary feature

Cons

Digital journal only available on the paid version

Free version offers limited features

Meditations only available for iOS users

No options for long-form journaling

No free version

Certain features are glitchy

No web version

Not designed for improving mental wellness

Doesn’t provide journaling prompts

More focused on physical health than mental well-being

No journaling prompts

No backup tools

Paid version is required to unlock useful features

Doesn’t offer journaling prompts

Limited resources for improving mental well-being

Sometimes glitchy after software update

Backup features can be glitchy

No journal prompts

Not journal-focused

Limited features

Most features only available through the paid version

How We Tested the Best Journaling App

With so many stellar journal apps to choose from, deciding on our top 10 wasn’t easy!

Luckily, when it comes to high-quality apps, there are certain criteria that our team of reviewers uses to qualify apps that we’re considering recommending to our readers.

Here is more information about the criteria we use for our selection process to ensure that only the most fitting apps make it through our screening process.

Quality

When it comes to apps, quality refers to the condition of the software. High-quality software is that which is free of bugs and unexpected crashes and is user-encrypted to ensure that your personal information isn’t shared with third-party platforms. 

Price

During our selection process, we prioritized finding many journaling apps that were particularly budget-friendly. That being said, at times, it’s worth purchasing a more expensive app as long as it delivers value.

Brand reputation

Apps created by reputable brands are always our first choice. Purchasing products from a reputable brand is the best way to ensure the quality of your product and that your customer service experience will be positive.

Effectiveness

Journaling apps are created to help users organize their thoughts, feelings, and life experiences with simple coordination. We gave bonus points to apps that were particularly easy to use and prompted deeper reflections from users. 

FAQs

Is digital journaling safe?

When you take appropriate precautions to protect your data, digital journaling is totally safe. Secure your personal thoughts and information with reliable journaling apps that offer encryption and password protection.

Is it okay to journal on your phone?

Many people find journaling on their phones to be convenient and helpful. Journaling apps enable you to keep a consistent journaling habit on the go by documenting your thoughts, emotions, and experiences wherever you are.

Is journaling just a diary?

Though journaling and diary keeping share similarities, they are not the same.
Writing a journal involves writing about one’s feelings, experiences, and reflections, whereas writing a diary involves capturing daily events and personal happenings chronologically.

A Word From a MD

Many people start using digital journaling apps in order to improve their mental well-being and start creating better habits. If that’s the reason why you’re in search of the best journal app, then a great next step for you to take on your health and wellness journey is to start penciling in regular exercise.

Studies have shown that even working out twice a week can have a positive impact on both mental and physical health. Endorphins are useful for improving your mood, and getting out of the house can even reduce feelings of loneliness.

If you’re working on creating better routines, then journaling is a great place to start. And whenever you’re ready, getting into the habit of exercising regularly should be next on your list!

Conclusion

There is no best journal app. Instead, there are a lot of amazing apps, with each one being better suited to help you meet your unique needs.

That being said, our team really loved Sensa, CBT Thought Diary, and HappyFeed. All these apps help to get in the habit of daily journaling and improve mental well-being in the long-term.

Written by Isabel Mayfield
Isabel Mayfield is a certified yoga instructor with over 10 years of experience in the fitness industry. She is passionate about self-improvement and loves to help people improve their sense of self-worth through education and support in meeting their fitness goals.
The article was fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
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Isabel-Mayfield-health-reporter
Written by Isabel Mayfield
HR_author_photo_Rosmy
Fact checked by Rosmy Barrios, MD
Last update: August 1, 2023
9 min read 1105 Views 0 Reviews
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