Journaling is one of my favorite ways to feel better when I am having a bad mental health day. Or even just when I'm having a lot of thoughts in my head and just need a way to get them out.
I find it very therapeutic to write everything down. It helps me clear my mind and allows me to focus again.
Some people don't journal because they find it overwhelming. But, journaling shouldn’t feel overwhelming.
My advice is to start small and keep at it. Remember that your journal is not meant to be perfect. It is for you and you only. It’s a personal collection of your thoughts and feelings, and you don't have to share it with others if you don't want to. All you need to do is write. Write your thoughts. Write your emotions. Write whatever you want to get out.
Sometimes it can be difficult to start. That's okay. Just write whatever word comes to mind and keep writing. I like to start with what I am feeling in the current moment and why. Then I go on to whatever else I'd like to say. Sometimes if I can't think of how I'm feeling, I just write what I am currently doing. Sitting at work, sitting at my computer table procrastinating something I need to do, etc. I just try to get myself and the pen moving.
Why Should You Journal?
It is a coping strategy that allows you to clear your mind and vent your feelings without having to share them with someone else.
It can help us find triggers and patterns within ourselves.
It helps us find solutions to problems.
It helps us be more positive as our feelings are written down.
It can feel like a burden has been lifted.
It keeps us accountable.
Our mental health is very important. It decides how we will carry ourselves through the day. Even if we don't want it to interfere with our daily activities, it definitely does.
Depression can feel like an overwhelming, massive dark cloud. Having our minds racing with negative thoughts is not fun.
It really helps to get these thoughts down on paper or however you decide to journal. Whether it be on your tablet or an actual notebook, writing your thoughts down makes it feel like a weight has been lifted.
Then you are able to be clear-minded and start to analyze the problems around you. Writing down those negative thoughts allows you to start working with a more positive mindset.
I recommend journaling for everyone but especially those who suffer from depression, anxiety, or low self-esteem.
I have compiled a list of mental health prompts to help you get started on a more positive mindset.
Mental Health Prompts
In detail, describe your perfect day.
Discuss 5 things you wish others knew about you.
Write one paragraph about what made you happy today.
Identify three short-term goals and one long-term goal.
What inspires you?
Make a list of 10+ things that make you happy.
Write a letter to an important person in your life who you are grateful for having. Tell them what do you admire about them and why have they had such an impact on your life.
What qualities about yourself do you love the most?
Discuss 3 things you did RIGHT today.
Pick one positive word you'd like to focus on today and describe what it makes you feel or what you associate with it.
Write a list of 10 things you are thankful for.
Describe a situation in which you helped someone else. How do you think it made them feel? How did it make you feel?
Write a letter to the future you. What would you say to your future self?
Write a letter to the past you. What would you say to your past self now that you've been through it?
What self-care strategies have you used in the past? Rate them from 1-10, 10 being the most effective and helpful, 1 being the least.
Describe what love means to you in detail.
What advice would you give to someone going through a hard time?
Write a list of 10 things you can do to get out of a funk.
Describe a hardship you have had. How does it make you feel reflecting back on it? What do you feel you learned?
Write a list of 10 things you want to remember during difficult times. (Use this later if you’re feeling down).
Write a letter to someone who has done you wrong. Discuss what they did and how it made you feel. Try to forgive them and rip it up if it feels right.
Write a letter to your body. Try to focus on the positive. Think about what your body has done for you.
Write about how you’d describe yourself to a stranger.
What things are you avoiding dealing with?
What do you need right now?
Write a message to yourself for bad days.
Write a list of what is enough for you.
Write 10 words to describe yourself. If any are negative, write how you can work on improving them.
What are you worried about and why?
What are you excited about and why?
Write a list of 5 goals you would like to accomplish by the end of the year. Be realistic (depending on what month you write this in) and positive.
Write the words you need to hear right now.
If you're new to journaling, you can start with doing it for 5 minutes every once in a while and build up from there.
You can write as often as you want to. I like to take any free time I have to journal. It makes the time pass quicker and I feel instantly better afterward.
However, you can journal a few times a week or a few times a month, if you want to. Find what works best for you. The important part is that you do journal regularly.
I suggest keeping your journal somewhere accessible to you. You can have more than one journal if you wanted to. That's what I do. I have my home journal and my "portable" journal. My portable journal is really just my iPad and an app I use to write things down. I use the GoodNotes app for my journal, among other things I use it for.
There are so many books out there that guide you through journaling for mental health reasons. Here are a few of my favorites.
Guided Mental Health Journals
Ultimately, I truly believe that journaling is good for anyone to do. It helps us grow in all ways. However you decide to use these journal prompts, they will bring great benefits to your daily mental health. They are great for managing stress and anxiety.
Use these prompts to remind yourself of how great you are, even when times get tough.
You have to take care of yourself first. Then, you can take care of others.
Have fun journaling!