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May 02, 2024

How to Start Journaling for Your Mental Health (with Prompts)

Yop & Tom

Journaling is a bit like salad. It’s one of those things you  know  is good for you but easily dismiss when times get tough. Now and again, you’ll reach for it and make one in a hurry. But without the right flavours, without the right toppings, it all feels a little bland.

But journaling is one of the best things you can do for your mental health.You just need to know where to start, what flavours to add and how to make it interesting. You’ve got to find your flavour.


Why should you think about journaling for your mental health?

Journaling carves out dedicated time for your mental health

Once you’ve made the decision to journal for your mental health, it starts to ebb its way into your daily routine.

Ideally, you’ll find a  type of journaling that you really enjoy. One that you look forward to and becomes a natural part of your daily routine. 

A bit like  habit stacking, your journal automatically becomes a nudge to focus on this often neglected part of your life. Your mind.


Journaling  works

The mental load can be  heavy when you’re carrying it around with you every day. 

You know that feeling when you’ve just shared a problem with someone? How it doesn’t feel quite so gigantic anymore? Journaling gives you that feeling too. It works because it holds space for your  mental health.

Sometimes, you’ll just need a place to prepare your thoughts before you share them out loud. Other times, you might not have someone immediately available to talk to. But journaling’s always available to you, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. And it’ll never press its agenda on you.

It doesn’t have an opinion. It’s just there to listen.


Journaling allows you to process your thoughts

When you get your thoughts out of your head and down onto the page, you can  see them. It’s probably the most low-tech way to actually look at what’s going on inside your head.

You can dive deeper into your thoughts, create a plan to support them and detect any potential patterns or triggers for your mental health.


Journaling gives you someone to refer back to when you’re ready to reach out for help with your mental health

We  always  recommend speaking with a mental health professional. Even if you don’t think it’s “that bad”, therapy is one of the best ways to get to know yourself. It’s important to find someone who’s the right fit for you, who you feel comfortable sharing your feelings with.

But, even when that person’s the perfect fit, it’s still 100% natural to feel nervous about sharing your highs and lows with them.

When your mind goes blank or your thoughts get jumbled, your journal can be a useful tool to refer back to in your sessions.

Your journal is always honest

It’s too easy to pretend that everything’s fine when answering the question “how are you?”. 

We naturally forget the bad bits and want to remember the good, our brain likes to  dissociate itself from those tricky memories. 

Your journal makes sure that you don’t live in denial. It allows you to see how you really feel, so you know when it’s time to do something about it and reach out for help.


What to journal for your mental health

Track your daily mood and emotions

Tracking your daily mood and emotions is an incredible habit, as it allows you to see both the highs and the lows.

Often, we only reach for our journal when we’re feeling down. But by logging your mood on the daily, you can match it to different activities, the people you spent your time with and plenty of other things to spot any patterns that might be influencing your mental health.


House your Morning Pages

Most people think of  Morning Pages as a practice for your creativity but we love using this as a way of journaling for your mental health. There’s nothing quite like getting all that mental chatter out of your head before the day begins. 

You’ll be surprised as to what comes up. Sometimes, it’ll seem insignificant and mundane. Others, it’ll give you food for thought. Perhaps even nudging you to add a little more ease into the day ahead now you’ve checked in with how you’re feeling.


Use your journal as your mind’s A&E

When your stress levels are rising and you can feel the anxiety setting in, reach for your journal.

As we said above, it’s  always there for you. Keep it stashed in your bag, in your car, next to your desk. And get that problem out of your head and onto the page (but please, always, reach out for professional help when you need it).


Turn it into your self-care list

Journaling for your mental health isn’t all about writing down the bad and uncovering your struggles (although that does help). It’s also about helping you to do the things that make you happy.

This is the ultimate  to-do list. Your self-care list is a series of things that’ll make you feel good on that particular day, or a bank of joyful activities to draw on whenever you’re feeling blue (it’s easy to forget what we love when we’re feeling down). It’s all designed to add a little more light and love into your day.


Capture your joy

Social media might be a highlight reel. But your journal can be a celebratory place, where you share the things you don’t want the rest of the world to know just yet.

The job offer you just received. The pregnancy news that isn’t ready to go public. The new friend you made at the coffee shop.

Write it in your journal. And celebrate yourself that little bit more.


10 prompts to get you started with journaling for your mental health

When you need a little nudge to get you started with journaling for your mental health, pick one of the prompts below and give it a go. Try writing for just two minutes and see how you feel once that time is up.

  1. How do you feel today?

  2. What’s stuck on your mind right now?

  3. If your mood was a colour, what colour would it be and why?

  4. What did you do today? How did it make you feel?

  5. How well did you sleep last night? How’s that impacting your mood today?

  6. If you could add one thing into your day today to support your mental health, what would it be?

  7. Spend 10 minutes writing down every thought that’s in your head this morning.

  8. Choose 10 activities that bring you ease and joy when times are tough. Write them down and then choose one to do today.

  9. What’s one moment you’re celebrating this week? And yes, it can be “too tiny to count”!

  10. How can you make next week a little easier for yourself?

Now you know journaling for your mental health doesn’t have to be complicated or technical. All it takes is you, a pen and some paper. And a willingness to begin.

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