The Depression Hacker’s Toolbox: Day One Journal App

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I’ve written before that journaling helped me manage my depression. During some of my darkest times, journaling my thoughts and feelings have helped light my way out of that tunnel of despair.

Over the years, I’ve journaled in a variety of mediums. I have many half-written notebooks in boxes. Each book is a journal I started at some point. For a long time, I even used my beloved Evernote, which is still one of the best options out there and I highly recommend it.

But, for the last couple years, I’ve journaled exclusively in an app called Day One. Day One, quite frankly, is the best journal I’ve ever used. That’s not hyperbole; I’ve used a lot. From elegant notebooks to pricey applications, I’ve tried them all and, after using Day One, I stopped my search for the perfect journal because I finally found it.

Day One App - Sad Runner

Why I like Day One

First, as a designer, I dig Day One. It’s clean, it’s pretty, and it combines form and function in a way a lot of apps overlook. But more than anything, it gets the job done for me. It’s the only journal I’ve consistently returned to time and time again. I mentioned half-written notebooks above. That’s because I would buy a nice journal for a bit, then stop. A year later I would repeat the process with a new notebook or app. Once Day One came into the picture that cycle ended, and I was able to bring some consistency to my journaling.

The consistency I enjoy comes from the freedom I have when using the app. I never need to carry a notebook with me because my journal is always on my iPhone. But, I can type when I feel like it because the app is also on my computer. The two sync seamlessly together which gives me the benefit of never being without my journal, but I never have to remember to take it with me.

So, whenever I have a thought or feeling I want to record, I just grab my nearest device and enter it into my ever-present journal.

Day One Journal - Sad Runner

Free Form But Structured

The thing I love most about Day One (which is what beat Evernote for me) is that it gives you room to record data (like titles of posts), but you don’t need to. For example, in Evernote, I would write an entry and then feel like I had to have a title because the default title wouldn’t look good or be as functional. I don’t always want to title my journal entries. I just want to write my feelings down. They aren’t blog posts; they’re journal entries. Well, Day One allows you to write what’s in your head, and you don’t have to worry about formatting anything or titling it. Just write. The date, time, place, and even the weather will record automatically, so you don’t need to pay attention to it. Just concentrate on getting your feelings and emotions down into your journal.

Tweeting My Feelings

When I had to write a title, or I had a beautiful paper notebook to write in, I felt like the journal entry had to be formal and extended. I felt like I needed to devote a long time to writing each entry.

Again, Day One is available for every device. So you just pull out your phone or tablet and enter your feelings at the exact moment you identify them. But, because it is informal, I don’t need to write those long entries anymore. So I end up with multiple, micro-entries throughout the day recording my thoughts and feelings. I’ll realize something about my mental illness or how I see the world, and I’ll quickly record it in a private ‘Tweet’ to myself in DayOne. The result is this private news feed of emotions.

I can’t begin to tell you how powerful that is. Some entries look like traditional ones you would see in a formal journal. I include complete detail and story so that I never forget what happened. But it’s the short little ‘Journal Tweets’ that make the biggest difference for me. Those add up and give me a lot of insight into my mental illness and provide me with valuable wisdom.

Day One App on iPhone - Sad Runner

What to Do With Your Journal Entries

So what do you do with all those posts in Day One? Well, that’s up to you. But here are a few ideas you can try.

Share with Your Therapist

Sharing your journal with your therapist may not be for every situation so check with him/her first. For years, I’ve shared my journal entries with a mental health professional. A therapist may only see you for an hour each week but, with your journal, they can experience what your thoughts and feelings are like each day. Having that kind of access can help them help you better. Again, not every therapist likes this so you’ll want to check first before you share. But I’ve found it to be tremendously beneficial.

With Day One, you can export your entries as a PDF. That gives your therapist a beautifully formatted document to read that’s made up of all your thoughts and feelings. You can either print out the PDF or email it if that’s what you two decide.

Star Them For Later Use

You can even star an entry so you can find it later which comes in handy for me because sometimes I’ll find something in my journals that I want to explore here on the website. I’ll just star that journal entry so I can easily go back and find it later. You could star entries as prayer requests, notes for a therapist, anything you want.

Don’t Ever Read Them Again

Just getting your thoughts and feelings out of your head and into Day One will be therapeutic. There’s something magical about journaling that allows you to explore your thoughts in a uniquely intimate way. If you never read them again, that’s fine.

A lot of my entries are too difficult to re-read because they take me back to a dark place. You don’t need to read them for journaling to be effective. Just write your thoughts and feelings down, make that the habit you work to keep. That alone is a massive achievement for you.

Day One is my journal of choice. It’s a real functional app that, with some effort, can become a tool in your toolbox against depression. The ease of use and beautiful design make it a joy to journal with, and it made sticking to my journaling habit so much easier.

Download it today and try it out. Just open the app and jot down a sentence or two about how you’re feeling at that moment. Then, just put it away until the next time. You’ll find, after awhile, you’ll have a stream of entries that represent the full spectrum of your emotions.

I’m thankful I found Day One. It’s a valuable tool in my Depression Toolbox. I hope you try it and get a lot out of it too.

Day One App - Sad Runner

Disclosure: I don’t know the makers of Day One. I just think it’s an excellent product and people should use it. So, while I wholeheartedly recommend the app, please understand they don’t pay me to endorse it. That said if you did happen to make Day One: You’re awesome. Thank you for everything. And I do accept swag 🙂

Adam Weitz
Adam Weitz

Adam Weitz is a multi-discipline designer, business owner, and founder of Sad Runner. He is passionate about encouraging people with depression and works through Sad Runner to positively impact their lives.