If journaling is something you’ve been intrigued by, but just haven’t been able to bring yourself to do it, you’ve found yourself in the right place. Because this article right here folks, is the ultimate guide to journaling. I’ll explain why it’s good for you, tips for how to get the most out of it, and include a list of daily journal prompts for mental health, to get you started.
Perhaps you think that in order to reap the mental health benefits of journaling, you have to do it every single day. This is false.
You can turn to journaling whenever you need it. It doesn’t have to be another item on your lengthy to-do list, or even a part of your daily routine (although if it becomes that, great!).
And if you want to get an inspirational notebook, go for it! But really, all you need is a pen, some paper, and a few minutes to yourself.
So let’s get straight to it, shall we?
What can journaling do for your mental health?
1. First and foremost, it is an excellent brain dump
We’ve all been there – too many thoughts, too much anxiety, all swirling around and tangled up in our brains. It can feel impossible to even focus, let alone find solutions to our worries.
Putting pen to paper can help you sort through all of those thoughts and physically dump any anxiety you’re feeling somewhere else. I kind of see it like hot yoga for your mind, but instead of sweating out the toxins, you’re writing out the toxins.
2. It can help you gain awareness by tracking your patterns
When we keep repeating certain patterns, it’s often because we aren’t aware of what triggers them. And we may not know how to change these patterns right off the bat.
When you journal, you’re able to go a bit deeper into your thoughts and better understand why you feel, think, or behave a certain way. And, also set intentions for how you may want to handle certain situations differently moving forward.
3. You’ll practice expressing yourself
Feelings are complex. And when we journal, we create a safe space for us to explore our feelings. Instead of reacting automatically to how we feel, we are giving ourselves time to pause, reflect, and LISTEN to our feelings. Usually, they are trying to tell us something important.
If you often feel completely overwhelmed by the way you feel, and want to learn how to navigate your emotions more effectively, I recommend you check out my Feelings Guide here.
4. You can start to access new narratives about yourself
When you are overwhelmed by the thoughts in your mind, it can be really hard to look at your situation from a different perspective.
Taking the time to write them out slows you down enough to think things through a little more intentionally and explore other perspectives more thoroughly. I find when I journal, I open myself up to other possibilities that I wouldn’t have even thought about.
5. It’s a “me-time” activity that keeps on giving.
Sure, bubble baths are fun, but have you ever tried spending 30 minutes connecting with your inner world?
Journaling is one of the most emotionally nourishing ways to spend time with yourself. Because it isn’t just about the time you spend journaling – it’s about the long-term gains.
You learn to reflect more deeply, problem solve more effectively, be kinder to yourself, and understand who you are. Journaling can help you get in touch with what you want out of life and figure out a way to make it happen. If that isn’t worth taking some time to sort out, I don’t know what is!
How do you start journaling?
There is no right or wrong way to journal. You can do it HOWEVER you want, whenever you want, for as much time as you want.
But if having structure is helpful for you, here are some guidelines from the Center for Journal Therapy, to help you get started. Just remember the acronym, WRITE:
W – What. What do you want to write about? Think about what is present for you, what you feel good about, what you want to change, etc. Then go for it!
R – Reflect. It can help to give yourself a few moments before you begin to reflect a bit, center yourself, and review your intention for journaling.
I – Investigate. This is an opportunity to go a bit deeper than you normally would throughout your day. Be curious about what comes up for you, and explore it from many different angles.
T – Time. Gathering our thoughts and focusing can take some time. Try committing to 5 minutes minimum, if not more. And remember, you may need a few minutes to warm up, so if you find yourself struggling a bit at the beginning, that’s okay, Just give yourself some time.
E – Exit. Take a look at what you’ve written and review. What are the takeaways? Exiting the activity with intention can help you bring any insights back into day.
30 daily journal prompts for your mental health
Last but not least, here is the list of prompts to help you care for your mental health.
I encourage you to choose whatever resonates, or you can even try one a day for the next month, if you feel so inclined.
1. Today, I am feeling…
2. Three things that I feel anxious about are
3. Three things that I feel hopeful about are
4. What would I want to tell myself 10 years ago?
5. In 10 years, what do I hope my life will look like?
6. What are some things I tend to avoid, and why do I avoid them?
7. What is one goal I have for myself, and why is it important to me?
8. When I self-reflect, I feel
9. What are 5 things that I am grateful for?
10. How do I know when I’m starting to feel burnt out and what can I do about it?
11. This week, I hope to…
12. One of the greatest struggles in my life has been
13. One of my greatest achievements has been
14. If I could make 3 wishes come true, they would be…
15. How would my loved ones describe me?
16. In what ways do I want to grow?
17. How can I start to feel more at peace with myself?
18. In this moment, I am…
19. Who do I look up to, and why?
20. If I could write a letter to my body, I would say…
21. What are the biggest dreams I have for my life?
22. To me, having self-compassion means…
23. How do I treat people I love, and how can I direct that energy more towards myself?
24. What are 3 things that I love about my personality, and why?
25. What is one of the greatest challenges I’ve had to overcome?
26. What do I want to do to take care of myself this week?
27. The best compliment I’ve ever received was…
28. Name 10 things on my bucket list.
29. What makes me feel most alive?
30. When I look back on my previous journal entries, what kind of progress have I seen in myself?
So, what are you waiting for? You have all the tools to get started. Grab a pen and paper, and go for it!
If you found any of this information helpful, let me know! I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me here.