Journaling Prompts for Mental Health

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Your diary may have held all your secrets and dreams when you were a teenager. But these days, it might not be so easy to put your heart in a notebook. Having a few simple journaling prompts on hand can get those emotional juices flowing, so you reap more benefits from your writing practice.

Journaling is a simple yet powerful tool that can support your mental well-being and serve as a creative outlet. “It can help you organize and process your thoughts and emotions,” says Honolulu-based therapist Lana Lipe, LCSW.

Regularly putting pen to paper allows you to establish a deeper connection with yourself and increase your emotional intelligence. Journaling can also be an effective way to deal with feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression and resolve issues that have been obsessing you for years. “It can help you release difficult feelings and move toward solving some of the biggest challenges in your life,” says Lope.

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Dealing with a blank page can seem downright daunting. Instead, get inspired with a dedicated question or prompt. He solves the Where the hell do I start? problem by refining your focus on a specific topic. “It can help you focus and clarify your experience,” Lipe says.

Here are 25 of Lipe’s favorite starters. Use them as a guide to get your journaling practice off the ground.

Journaling Prompts for Gratitude

These entries are easy ways to remind yourself of all the good that surrounds you (and is within you!).

  • One thing I learned recently that I’m grateful for is…
  • The person who has influenced me the most in life is…
  • One good thing that happened to me today was…
  • My three greatest strengths are…

Journaling prompts to manage stress or anxiety

“Writing about stressful or anxious feelings can be an opportunity to reframe your self-talk, allowing you to see negative situations in a different light,” says Lipe.

  • I feel stress in ________________ part of my body. It’s like feeling…
  • My anxiety may be trying to tell me…
  • The proof that my anxious thoughts are true is… / The proof that my anxious thoughts are false is…
  • One thing I’m clinging to and would love to let go of is…

Journaling Prompts for Dealing with Depression

  • “Journaling decreases rumination, where you think about the same negative thoughts over and over again,” Lipe says. It can help manage feelings of depression.
  • One thing that motivates me to keep going when things seem really tough is…
  • One of my favorite memories is ________. It was like…
  • I know I feel depressed when _______________. What helps me feel better is…
  • One thing I wish people would understand about me is…

Journaling prompts for creative expression

Think of these prompts as the journalistic equivalent of a sunset or a beautiful flower: pure inspiration.

  • Describe your perfect day using your five senses.
  • Look out your window. Write a poem about what you see.
  • Freedom to me is like…

Log prompts for self-reflection

You want to understand how you really feel something? Often a private writing session can make it happen.

  • For me, happiness means…
  • The negative emotions that I tend to avoid are _______________. It’s because…
  • Write yourself a forgiveness letter for a mistake you made in the past.

Journaling prompts to support healing

You cannot change the past. But you can better understand painful experiences and offer yourself an extra dose of compassion, which can help you come to terms with what happened and find a way to move on.

  • Write a letter to someone who hurt you. Tell them how their actions made you feel.
  • If I wasn’t afraid of being judged, I would authentically live my life doing…
  • The advice I would give to my younger self is…

Journaling prompts for self-love

Healthy self-esteem starts with celebrating your strengths and finding ways to do good on your own every day.

  • The accomplishment I’m most proud of is…
  • For me, self-love means…
  • Something that makes me unique is…
  • Today I loved myself by doing…

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