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Keeping In Mind: 21 Prompts For Mental Health Journaling

When was the last time you picked up a pen and a piece of paper? In our fast-paced world filled with constant stimulation and demands it can become rare to have an opportunity to stop and be with our thoughts.


But the feeling of pen in hand, ink on paper, can be grounding. The act of writing our thoughts down allows us to process and accept emotions that are otherwise unfaced.


This is what makes journaling a powerful tool for our mental health. Journaling offers a safe space for self-reflection, expression, and processing of emotions. It can be a cathartic practice that helps individuals gain insight into their thoughts and feelings, ultimately leading to improved mental well-being.


But starting writing can be difficult: every writer knows that the blank page presents an obstacle that’s hard to overcome. Starting with mental health journaling prompts gives you an immediate way in, reducing one barrier to improved mental health.


So let’s find out how journaling can help with your mental health, and explore 21 powerful prompts for mental health journaling.



How Journaling Can Help Your Mental Health


Journaling serves as a form of self-therapy, allowing individuals to explore their innermost thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment. Putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) provides an outlet for releasing pent-up stress and anxiety, offering a sense of relief and clarity. By documenting their experiences and feelings, individuals can identify patterns, triggers, and areas for personal growth.


Two types of journaling have been identified by psychologists (Sohal, 2022) as beneficial for mental health:


  • Gratitude journaling: the writer focuses on things they’re grateful for and expresses them on the page.

  • Expressive journaling: the writer uses journaling as an opportunity to express both positive and negative emotions.


Journaling has several positive mental health benefits and is often recommended (Mugerwa, 2012) by therapists and councillors as an additional tool, taking place alongside other therapies. But one of the best things about journaling is that you don’t need a therapist to do it: it’s a cheap, accessible and effective form of self-care that you can get started with today.


Journaling can help anxiety because it encourages you to accept negative emotional responses, supports the processing of trauma and promotes positive thinking to combat depression. Journaling about your fears could even be a first step towards facing them and overcoming phobias


21 Prompts for Mental Health Journaling


Staring at a blank page can be hard. If you’re new to journaling, you may even find the act of creativity and expression intimidating but don’t be put off. Journaling is a personal act, and can become anything you want! But when you’re not sure what to write about, pick one of these mental health journal prompts at write the first thing that comes into your mind.


  1. Reflect on a recent challenge you faced and how it made you feel.


  1. Describe a moment of joy or gratitude from your day.


  1. Write a letter to your past self, offering words of encouragement and support.


  1. List three things you love about yourself and why.


  1. Document a recurring thought or worry and explore its origins.


  1. Describe a place where you feel at peace and why it brings you comfort.


  1. Write about a mistake you made and what you learned from it.


  1. Explore a childhood memory that still impacts you today.


  1. List three things that inspire you and how you can incorporate them into your life.


  1. Write a letter to someone who has hurt you (this can be for your eyes only).


  1. Document your daily routine and how it affects your mood.


  1. Describe a recent accomplishment and how it made you feel.


  1. Reflect on a time when you felt proud of yourself for setting boundaries.


  1. Write about a goal you have for the future and what steps you can take to achieve it.


  1. List five things you are grateful for today.


  1. Describe a favorite hobby or activity and why it brings you joy.


  1. Write a poem or short story expressing your current emotions.


  1. Reflect on a recent interaction with a loved one and how it made you feel.


  1. List three things that make you smile and why.


  1. Document a fear you have and explore ways to overcome it.


  1. Write a message of self-love and acceptance to yourself for difficult times.


Tips for Mental Health Journaling


Now you’re armed with our mental health journaling prompts, it’s time to start your practice. Be patient, find a routine, and write whatever comes into your mind. Here are some mental health journaling tips to help you get started.


  • Set aside dedicated time each day for journaling, whether it's in the morning, evening, or during a break in your day.


  • Find a quiet and comfortable space where you can write without distractions.


  • Experiment with different journaling formats, such as free writing, bullet points, or prompts.


  • Be honest and authentic in your writing, allowing yourself to express whatever comes to mind without judgment.


  • Don’t be a perfectionist: forget about grammar or spelling mistakes, because this writing is just for you. The important thing is to get your thoughts down on paper.


  • Be patient with yourself and permit yourself to explore your thoughts and feelings at your own pace.


Wrapping Up


Remember, journaling is a personal practice, so feel free to customize it to suit your needs and preferences. Whether you're looking to reduce stress, gain clarity, or simply connect with yourself on a deeper level, regular journaling can be a powerful tool for improving your mental health and overall well-being.


Journaling can help with anxiety and depression, and managing the thoughts and feelings of PTSD. When you’re ready to take the next step, explore oVRcome’s personalized treatment programs for anxiety and specific phobias.


References: 


  1. Sohal M, Singh P, Dhillon BS, Gill HS. Efficacy of journaling in the management of mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Fam Med Community Health. 2022 Mar;10(1):e001154. doi: 10.1136/fmch-2021-001154. PMID: 35304431; PMCID: PMC8935176.


  1. Mugerwa S, Holden JD. Writing therapy: a new tool for general practice? Br J Gen Pract. 2012 Dec;62(605):661-3. doi: 10.3399/bjgp12X659457. PMID: 23211255; PMCID: PMC3505408.

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