Why and how we created a self-care and gratitude journal

Our mission at Girls’ Night In is to help women relax, recharge, and cultivate community. That is, to celebrate the ethos of a true girls’ night in, one that’s centered on both restoration and enjoying time with your friends. So far, we’ve done this by creating a Friday morning newsletter that reaches over 20,000 women across the U.S. and internationally and is meant to help you enjoy a fun break in your inbox, an oasis amidst all the other crap happening in the world. In addition, we’re so grateful to have helped hundreds of women gather offline each month for book club discussions. And last week, we introduced the Girls’ Night Shop — a line of products designed for homebodies everywhere.

So, how do physical products fit into our mission?

When I started Girls’ Night In, I had no idea what it would become, but I sure had a ton of dreams (maybe too many!). One dream of mine was to design and develop tangible, real life products. Having been a digital designer for most of my career, I felt there would be a certain satisfaction in creating something you can hold. And with the state of the world right now, it felt even more important to create something solid, firm, and sure. Something I could hold in my hands, touch, and feel.

There’s a wonderful sense of slowing down that comes with writing in a journal. Growing up, I had three favorite activities: reading books, buying blank journals, and writing in them (NERD ALERT, I know). Somewhere along the way, my physical journals turned digital, and I lost the sense of true reflection that comes with putting pen to paper. When you get away from a screen and write something by hand, everything feels more purposeful, and for a moment the world feels calm and free of distraction.

I wanted to celebrate this sense of slowing down through the Girls’ Night In line of products, and I knew we had to create a journal as part of it.

After eight months or so in the making, the Girls’ Night In shop finally launched this past Monday and our Take Care Journal is the product I’m more proud of, so I wanted to share why the team designed it the way we did.

How we designed a journal for positive reflection, not negative self-assessment

We started by looking at the current landscape of journals. Our assessment was that everything felt too rigid. The planner or “productivity” category of journals were just that — too focused on what I did today, what I wanted to do, what I wanted to accomplish.

Well, it’s 2017 and we’re…tired. Why should we have to obsess over the doing, the getting-things-done? What if we created a journal that helps you slow down and reflect? A journal that elegantly fits into your daily routine? One that makes you feel good about yourself, not worse?

“What was I grateful for today?” and “What did I do for myself today?”

The Take Care Journal features two prompts, and only two prompts across its pages: “What I Did For Myself Today” and “What I’m Grateful For Today.”

One practice that personally keeps me grounded is gratitude. When I’m in a terrible mood or find myself falling down a rabbit hole of negative self-talk, I like to ask myself, “What am I grateful for?” It’s a quick and easy way to instantly gain a mood boost and major perspective on your life. Most of us are incredibly privileged and we should observe and appreciate that. Oftentimes, when we think it’s the end of the world, it’s probably not.

Journal interiors include prompts for gratitude and self-care

And then, the self-care prompt. So far, the “what I did for myself today” prompt has actually been jarring for me. It’s helped me realize how little I take care of myself most days and it’s a great reminder to incorporate small routines, activities, or—yes, purchases!—for myself. We far too often forget to reflect on our needs and what might make our days better.

How to create a gratitude and self-care routine

Here are some tips that I’ve personally used to create a new routine that helps me reflect positively:

  1. Determine whether you’re a morning or evening journal-er.
  2. Put your phone in a different room so you’re not distracted or tempted while journaling. :)
  3. Fill in the two prompts, then free-write for a bit about your day, how you feel, good things that happened today.
  4. At the end of each week, read back and review what made each day great. If you see any people in the “What I’m grateful for” section, I shoot them a text to say hey or thanks. If you did a little thing for yourself that you’re still smiling about (example: I treat myself to a matcha latte a few times a week), it’s great reminder to keep doing that thing next week. 🍵
A match(a) made in heaven. :)

The journal is the first of many thoughtfully-designed products for GNI, I hope. Thanks so much to the GNI community for your continued support and inspiration, and I hope you enjoy some moments of gratitude and self-care today.

~ Alisha, Founder at Girls’ Night In

Special thanks to Alex Stikeleather, Leah Reidy, Tyler Calder, Olivia Rogine, Becca Barton, and Corey Speisman.


Girls’ Night In (GNI) is a community and brand that helps women build new friendships, cultivate community and lead a happier, healthier life in an increasingly stressful and lonely world. We bring together a community of over 20,000 women across the globe through our Friday newsletter and monthly book club meetups.

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Questions? Write us at hello@girlsnightin.co.

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