Benefits of Journaling
Regular journaling has been shown to improve mood, facilitate insight, and spark creativity. Journaling allows you to explore your emotions and reflect upon your life situation. When you use writing for behavior change, it makes you accountable.
What do I write about?
You can write about anything. There are no rules to what you write. Entries may be very simple, such as a delicious meal you enjoyed and other things that make you grateful. You can use your journal to make lists, such as “my top goals for this year” or “things I can do to reduce stress”. More deeply, you can write about how you felt about certain situations you encountered in a day. When you are feeling anxious or depressed, journaling can help you identify what is triggering your emotional state. Noting your dreams and hopes for the future are common topics.
How do I start journaling?
To start, try writing in your journal at least once per day. Set a reminder on your phone if you think you’ll forget. And, if you miss a day, that’s fine. Just continue where you left off and don’t let that discourage you.
Don’t worry about your grammar or sentence structure. Aim to keep your writing fluid and free-flowing. Through journaling, you may begin to make connections with your mood and triggers and develop a deeper understanding of your thoughts.
Some people like to keep their journals completely private, while others like to share their content with close friends or with a mental health professional. Either way is fine as long as journaling is benefiting you.
After some time journaling, you may want to read over what you’ve written. Notice how you’ve changed or how your perspective has evolved. How do you feel about yourself or a certain subject now compared to when you started? This self-exploration through journaling can provide profound insight.
Journal Prompt Ideas
Prompts provide an idea for you to start writing. Often you will find that these prompts lead to an expansion into other topics. Here are 15 journal prompts to get you started:
- Write down up to five things for which you feel grateful. Be specific and personal.
- Identify something about yourself that makes you feel insecure, less than or shameful. Then, write how that makes you feel, such as embarrassment, frustration or sadness. Finally, write a letter to yourself showing self-compassion and acceptance for the part of yourself that you do not like. See if you can shift your perspective.
- Identify the important values you hold and how you can live this every day by your actions. You may connect your values to specific goals.
- Explore your feelings through writing by jotting down how you feel and the thoughts that triggered these emotions. See if you can connect your thoughts, emotions, and subsequent behaviors.
- If you are struggling with regret, remorse, or grief about someone in your life, write a letter to that person expressing how you feel. Once your letter is complete, you can decide whether to share it or keep it private.
- What are your main stressors? How can you cope with them?
- List out your coping mechanisms when you are feeling down. What activities can you do that will improve your mood and get you through.
- If you are dealing with an addiction, write about how your addiction has impacted your life and what you would like your life to be without it. List reasons why you want to stop your addictive behaviors and what steps can help you get there. Write a commitment and/or break-up letter to your addiction.
- What are your dreams? What future goals would you like to achieve? How steps can you start taking now to realize your dreams?
- Write down something you can do for yourself and something you can do for others.
- What quote inspires you and why?
- What have you learned from your mental health struggles? How can this make you stronger in the long-run?
- What is the biggest obstacle you are facing? How can you overcome it?
- Write a bucket list. What can you start doing to accomplish these?
- Who are the most important people in your life and why?