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Journaling is well known to help with mental health.
It’s a common tool suggested by therapists and advocates alike to help people cope better with depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems.
But I don’t know about you, when I open a notebook and stare at a blank page the words don’t just “flow”.
My emotions don’t come pouring out into neat little sentences that accurately describe how I’m feeling.
Instead, I just get blank page overwhelm and my feelings continue to make a mess in my head.
But then I found a solution, and it’s a pretty darn good one if I do say so myself.
Journaling prompts for mental health.
I’m sure you’ve heard of journaling prompts before, but basically, they’re questions or exercises to get your journaling started. No more blank page overwhelm and a heck more insight into what’s going on inside your head.
They work. Shockingly well. So today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite journaling prompts for mental health.
Ready? Let’s get started!
Mental Health Benefits of Journaling
Before we get into the nitty-gritty of the actual journaling prompts I thought it would make sense to go over why you and I should be journaling for our mental health.
Because I know journaling can feel like a bit of a chore if you’re not a natural writer, but once you understand how helpful it can be suddenly it seems much more worth the effort.
Journaling can help by…
- Reducing anxiety, depression, and stress
By writing down these intense feelings you are getting them out of your head and onto paper. This clears some space in your head for other, nicer thoughts and also the act of writing stops you falling into the whirlwind of rumination and overthinking which, let’s be honest, only makes everything worse.
- Helps you understand your feelings
When everything in your head feels like a sad, angry jumbled up mess it can be really difficult to actually understand what you’re feeling and what triggered these feelings in the first place. Journaling can help you sift through all these thoughts and turn them into something you can actually understand and learn from.
- Learning more about yourself and why certain things affect you
When you go to the doctors the first thing they do is diagnose you. I mean it would be a bit silly if you walked in and they first tried to treat you without knowing what’s wrong… Well, journaling can help you figure out why something affected you so much, and once you know the what’s and whys it’s a lot easier to figure out an action plan for the future to keep you feeling happy!
- Improving your relationships with others
Your relationship with others can have a huge impact on your mental health, and journaling really can help to improve these relationships. Say you’re annoyed at your friend for something, naturally, we might be a bit off with them, snappy or even have a full-on go at them. But here is the thing, sometimes we’re upset not because what they said or did was that terrible, but because it triggered something in us. So when we journal we can figure that out and if that is the case we can have a calm conversation about it rather than an argument that hurts everyone.
So as you can see journaling can be a pretty powerful tool. In fact, it’s super useful even if your mental health doesn’t need a pick me up!
How to Start a Journaling Practice
I get it.
Starting something new is difficult, especially if you have depression.
Life is already overwhelming enough without trying to add in a new habit.
But here’s the thing, journaling will make your life less overwhelming in the long run. So while it’s painful to get started you will be thankful to your past self that you did get started.
So how do you start a journaling practice?
I advise you to give it a shot for 30 days.
30 days is enough time that you will have started to see some benefits if journaling is right for you right now. It’s also long enough for you to start to form a habit.
Decide when you are going to journal each day. I personally like to do it at the end of the day so I can reflect on what’s happened and get anything out of my head that might stop me from sleeping, but others love to journal in the morning to prep their day.
It really doesn’t matter when you journal as long as you choose a time that fits best in your life.
Then set an alarm or a reminder on your phone that goes off at that time every day.
Now, without fail, when that alarm goes off you pull out your journal and write something.
Even if you only write three words, still pull out that journal and write in it. That way you are still forming the journal writing habit even when you’re not in the mood.
Now obviously you won’t get much benefit if you only write three words a day for 30 days, but it won’t matter if you do that on some days. Consistency over perfection!
Then after the 30 days, you can reflect on whether journaling is right for you. You can also turn that pesky alarm off because chances are you will have formed a great journaling habit to the point where it will feel weird not to journal at that time of that day.
Journaling Prompts for Mental Health
Okay, so you know how great journaling is and you also know how to actually start journaling, still, one question remains….
What should you actually write about in your journal?
There really are no hard and fast rules on what to write about in your journal. In fact, some people just do a “Dear Diary” type entry each day.
But in order to really get the most out of journaling, prompts are a great place to start, however, I would advise you never end on a negative note.
A journal should be a tool for self-discovery and exploration, which does inevitably mean you will probably write about some pretty deep and sometimes not so happy stuff. And it’s important to get this stuff out of you and onto paper.
However, if all your journaling sessions are about the negatives in your life, well that’s certainly not going to make you happy. So if your journaling has taken you on a bit of a sadder journey then end with one of the happy or gratitude prompts and get your headspace back to positive!
I think it’s time for the prompts, don’t you?
Journaling Prompts For When You’re Feeling Low or Depressed
1 – Describe what depression has taught you that you otherwise would not have learned.
2- Write down exactly what’s going on in your head right now, then write about how you would like things to feel and be in your head.
3 – Imagine your best friend was going through depression right now, what would you say to her and what would your expectations be of her. Do you treat yourself in the same way?
4 – What is a trigger for your depression? Explain why you think this affects you so much and whether there is anything you can do stop it having such a major effect.
5 – Choose one thing to forgive yourself for and write a letter of forgiveness to yourself about it.
Journaling Prompts For When You’re Feeling Anxious
6 – What is a trigger for your anxiety? Explain why you think this affects you so much and whether there is anything you can do stop it having such a major effect.
7 – Describe a situation from the past when you were very anxious. Was whatever you were anxious about as bad as your anxiety made it out to be? Was there anything you could have done to reduce your anxiety?
8 – Feeling anxious about something right now? Describe the feeling and give it a rating out of ten. Do you think the amount you are anxious is proportionate to the task or event being worried about?
9 – List out everything you are worrying about right now. Now go through the list and write how you can make each item easier, less scary and less anxiety-producing.
10 – Write about a time you achieved something despite being very anxious about it. How did you deal with your anxiety and still make that achievement?
Body Positivity Journaling Prompts
11 – List out all the different ways in which your body is great, that has nothing to do with how you look. Then focus on one of those points and go deeper on exactly what your body allows you to do why you are thankful to your body.
12 – Suddenly feeling low about your body? Work backward writing about your day and figure out what triggered this feeling. Once you’ve located the trigger, describe why it caused you to feel bad and whether it’s really rooted in fact or not.
13 – Explore how much of your self-worth you tie-up with your body image and then list out other aspects about yourself, not body related, that elevate your self-worth.
14 – Imagine your body is your best friend, what would you say to her?
15 – List out at least ten things you believe are beautiful about your body, then focus on one aspect and describe it in greater detail on why it is beautiful.
Journaling Prompts for Self-Discovery
16 – List out ten accomplishments in your life and which one you are most proud of.
17 – Describe your greatest strength and greatest weakness and how these attributes have impacted and affected your life.
18 – Write about a book that you really connected with. Why did it have such a big impact on you?
19 – If you’re discussing a subject with three friends and everyone shares the same opinion, would you argue the counter-argument even if you didn’t agree with it? Explain why you would or wouldn’t.
20 – If you had to change one thing about yourself, and you could only change one thing, what would that be and why?
Gratitude Journaling Prompts
21 – List the three things you are most grateful to in your life, then explain why you are so grateful to these people, animals, objects or things.
22 – List out things that maybe you take for granted that are not freely available in other parts of the world, like running water, personal safety or electricity. Explain why you are so grateful to have each thing in your life.
23 – What is ten things you adore about your current living space and explain why they are so wonderful.
24 – Describe one person in your life who you’re so grateful are there. How do you know them? What is a fun memory of the two of you?
25 – Talk about your future plans and what parts you are grateful exist and are really looking forward to. Then examine your past and describe three experiences you are most grateful to and why.
Happy Journaling Prompts
26 – Describe the last time you literally couldn’t stop laughing. What was so funny? Explain it in great detail and remember the joy you felt at the time.
27 – Create a schedule for your dream day. What would it look like? Would anybody be there, if so who? What would you get up to?
28 – In what ways do you pursue happiness in your day to day life? Could you be doing more?
29 – How would the world look if there was more happiness?
30 – Write about all the different ways you can bring happiness to other people’s lives. For the mailman, a casual acquaintance, your spouse, a family member, a friend; what little (or big) things can you do to bring more joy into their lives?
A free, printable gift to help improve your mental health!
If you are struggling with depression or mental health in general and are looking to improve it, then I have a free gift for you to download that should help!
And that is the daily self-care routine checklist that I use to help me beat depression!
That way you can go over the daily self-care routine yourself and hopefully that will really help you implement those self-care practices that make the biggest difference for me in combating my depression and improving my mental health.
Plus the checklist actually comes with some bonus planning your day printables and they’re just really fun to get your planning on and get your days organized!