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15 easy journaling prompts for better mental health

Self-care is a general concept of taking time each day to do things for yourself — activities that may help clear some space in your mind and lead to better overall mental health.

In recent years, the concept of “self-care” has emerged as a major topic of discussion, particularly for people with busy schedules, such as parents and those with demanding careers. A prevailing idea within the concept of self-care is that the more you take care of yourself, the better prepared you will be mentally and physically to perform other tasks in your life, whether they be taking care of other people or doing your job.

Though people use it for a variety of different things — creative writing, work, creating a record of events — journaling is seen by many as a strong form of self-care. Journaling gives one the ability to sit down and clear some mental space by storing away thoughts, emotions, and memories. Journaling can also be a powerful tool for working through one’s emotions, thought processes, or how one is leaning on making a decision about something important.

Below, you’ll find 15 journaling prompts designed to cater to better mental health. Use these prompts as a form of self-care — a way to explore your thoughts and emotions, but more than that, a way to clear space so you feel better prepared for whatever life brings you next. For each of these, a question is posed. You could stop at simply answering the question, but you’ll get more benefit if you let yourself answer it and then spend some time writing about what that brings up.

  1. Imagine a cloud at the front of your forehead. What is brewing inside it? In other words: is there a thought or a feeling that’s nagging on you today? If that cloud were to open up and rain were to pour out, what would the raindrops contain? What can you let go of?

cloud

  1. What is something that happened in your day that surprised you or that you learned from? Nothing may come to mind immediately. Sometimes, with questions like these, we expect something really epic to surface, and if nothing does, we give away the power of the exercise. Instead, think about something really small. Maybe you dropped a penny on the ground and the sound gave you a jolt. Moments of surprise or learning can be that small.
  2. In the local newspaper in my town, a quote is grabbed each week as the “quote of the week.” It’s usually something someone said about something topical. Think about your own “quote of the day.” What did you or someone else say today that you could use to represent your overall feelings about the event of the day?
  3. Imagine that you could split yourself into two right now. One of you would have the energy that’s weighing your body down, the other would have the energy you hope to embody tomorrow. Describe both of those people in detail. What’s weighing person 1 down? What is person 2 unencumbered by, and what can they accomplish because of it?
  4. What was a disappointment in your day today? How did you build yourself up for something else, and how did reality fall short?
  5. What do you hope to accomplish tomorrow? If everything could go 100% right — you feel upbeat, you’re able to focus, you have energy — what would you finish the day with?
  6. What is something that you witnessed, encountered, or did today that you can be grateful for? Your gratitude could come from your ability to do it, the fact it happened to you, or the fact you were in the right place at the right time to see it. Be broad with this, but don’t let yourself off the hook. Really find something to express gratitude for.
  7. Did you meet anyone new today? If so, describe them. What was the experience of meeting them like? If you didn’t meet someone new today, focus on someone you already know. What are they like? Do you remember the first time you met them?
  8. Where did you go today? Not just in a broad sense - get specific. Detail each and every space you inhabited. When did you arrive, how did you enter, what did you find once you were there? When and why did you move out of that space? What do you think happened in that space once you left it? Does it matter?
  9. Imagine what tomorrow is going to be like. What are you nervous about? Excited for? Ho-hum about?
  10. Where are you sitting right now? What’s comfortable or uncomfortable about it? Focus on the space around and beneath you in granular detail. Let yourself leave your own mind and instead focus on those details.

person sitting using their phone

  1. What do you hear outside right now? What about inside? What does the sound of your typing sound like? Describe it all in great detail.
  2. If you could tell yourself from five years ago what you are up to today, what would he or she think?
  3. Write a letter to yourself in five years. What are your hopes for that person?
  4. What’s standing in your way today? How can you push that obstacle aside? Would it require asking for help? If so, who can you ask for help? What do you think they’ll say when you ask?

Hopefully, some of the prompts above will help you find a little peace, whether it be at the end of the day or at the precipice of a new one!

Lauren Harkawik
Author

Lauren Harkawik

Lauren Harkawik is a journalist, essayist, and fiction writer based in Vermont. You can read her writing on her website.

Visit Lauren Harkawik's website