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In the busy hustle of modern life, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Whether you’re grappling with a chaotic schedule, a toxic work environment, or old emotional scars, some days can feel almost insurmountable.
And just to add extra obstacles, this mental stress can also affect your energy levels, physical health, and even your skin.
Don’t just fake it until you make it, or try to hide from your problems under a self-care veneer of yoga and bubble baths. Thoughtful journaling can help you better understand and handle the challenges in your life for improved mental, emotional, and physical health.
Benefits of journaling include:
That’s all great in theory, but where do you begin? To help you start (or continue) your journey of self-reflection, we’ve put together 58 daily journal prompts for mental wellness.
Get out any doubts, anger, or second thoughts about things that happened today. Examine any negative feelings. Are they an appropriate response? Then think about all the good things that happened.
Who would you spend it with? What would you do? Linger over the fine details. Imagine everything from your ideal weather to the meals you would eat.
How does this quote inspire you, and why does it speak to you so deeply? If you feel a connection to the person who said it, include those details.
This one is important. Do not list the things you should be grateful for — only things that you actually appreciate. Why are you happy to have these things in your life? How do they make your life better?
What emotions do these things actually evoke in you, and why aren’t you grateful for them? What pressure do you feel from friends, family, or society to be grateful? How can you release this pressure and stop feeling guilty or obligated?
Tell them all the things you wish you had known. Describe how much better your life will get and all the amazing experiences they can look forward to.
Describe your life right now. Include all the precious details that you don’t want to forget. Paint a vivid picture of the things that make you happy.
It can be from your own point of view or from an outside perspective. What do you need to hear when you’re having a tough time? What do you wish someone would say to you?
How have you grown? What have you learned? If you’re in a better place, feel proud of the progress you’ve made. If you’re in a worse place, consider the things that have gone wrong. How can you do better next year? How can you undo some damage?
What did you learn from the situation? If you could try again, would you change your decision? How would you do things differently?
Why are you excited about it? What are you expecting? Once it’s over, what can you start looking forward to next?
Describe what you like about them. Make a note of any particular lyrics that speak to your heart. (And if you haven’t already, consider turning these songs into a playlist that you can easily listen to for a pick-me-up.)
Brainstorm things you’d like to accomplish or experience in the next year and ways to make each one happen. Try to make these reasonable goals — you want to set yourself up for success, not disappointment.
This can be an item from your 12-month bucket list or a totally different goal. Describe this goal in detail. How are you taking steps to achieve it? Do you foresee any obstacles?
Why would you change it? Does this thing currently affect your confidence or mental health? Do you think other people see you the same way?
Acknowledge your successes, even if they’re small. Congratulate yourself for doing well.
Why this person? What would you ask them? Would you be happy to see them, or would you be seeking some kind of closure?
What do you admire about this person? Why have they had such an impact on your life? If you could thank them, what would you say?
How do you want to feel tomorrow, and what three things can you do today to help make sure you feel that way?
Do you still feel embarrassed? Do you try to keep this story secret, or do you share it with friends? If someone else told you that story, would you judge them for it or find it funny?
Are they actually good for you? (Healthy, sustainable, productive?) How can you practice healthy self-care more often?
What are the best parts of your personality? Do you think others would agree with you? How can you play into these traits more often?
Think about things that consistently trigger feelings of anxiety for you, and identify at least one strategy you can use to calm your response to each. If you aren’t sure what your triggers are, make this an ongoing list. Revisit it as you discover new sources of stress.
First, explain how and why you helped. How did it make you feel afterwards? How do you think the recipient felt? Would you do it again, or take a different approach?
Where do you want to be in 5 years? What kind of life would you like to be living?
Why do you love it? Do you spend it with anyone special? What activities do you usually enjoy during that time?
Think broadly — economic struggles, character flaws, bad habits, toxic relationships. Be honest with yourself, and brainstorm ways to overcome these obstacles.
Discuss what they did and how it made you feel. Write out why you are forgiving them, and let it go. If it helps, take this page out of your journal and burn it to ceremonially release your painful feelings.
How did you learn it? Was it a painful experience? If you could do things differently, would you rather change that experience or hold onto the lesson you learned?
Describe what you like about it, and forgive the things that make you self-conscious. Apologize for any choices you’ve made that mistreated your body, or affected it in a negative way.
Do you say thank you or brush them off? Do you believe people when they compliment you? Why or why not? Which compliments do you receive repeatedly?
What was happening at that moment? How did the compliment make you feel? Did you agree with the praise at the time, and do you now?
Remind yourself of happier times, point out good things in your life, and give yourself an optimistic pep talk. Look back at this message when you’re feeling down.
Why? Is your fear rational? Have you ever encountered this fear in real life?
Why has this memory stuck with you? Who else was there? What made that time so happy?
What caused you to cry? Were they happy or sad tears? Were you crying for yourself or someone else? If you don’t often cry, why not, and what was different this time?
What was so funny? Who else was there enjoying the moment with you?
You don’t have to give it to them. Is it a grateful letter? An angry letter? A message of forgiveness?
For each memory, try to think of one good thing that wouldn’t have happened otherwise. We always imagine that our life would be better IF...but this time, think about all the positive memories and experiences you might have missed.
Why do you think you still have these habits? Are they coping mechanisms? And, if so, are they actually helping?
They can be short or long. You can write a few mini-apologies at once or focus on one long apology each day. Consider actually sending some of them if you think it would help.
Describe how each one makes you feel. When do you encounter them? What memories do these scents bring to mind? Is there a way you can enjoy them more in your everyday life?
How did you get through that time? Are you better off now? To remind yourself that you aren’t alone, list friends and family in your current support network.
What’s been holding you back from taking them before? What are you afraid will happen as a result of these risks? Are they reasonable fears?
Do you have an affinity for water, fire, air, earth? Have you always been drawn to plants or animals? Why do you think this element resonates with you? What do you have in common?
What was happening? How did you react? If you responded poorly, consider how you could have done things differently. If you responded well, think about how you could do the same in your next overwhelming situation.
Do you have any stiff or sore spots? How is your breathing? Your heart rate? Is your head clear and focused? Do a full-body check-in from head to toe.
How long have you had them? Why are they so important to you? Do they remind you of happy memories, sad memories, or both?
What about them is comforting? Consider qualities that make them different from similar places or objects — weight, color, location, lighting, memories.
This is the time to vent. Get out all your complaints, then brainstorm positive solutions for the situation.
Where is it? Write about the landscape outside. How is it decorated? Mention your favorite style, or specific pieces of decor that you love. What is your favorite room in the house? Who lives there with you? (Consider using the dream house you’re describing as a “happy place” to envision in times of stress.)
Why are you worried? Is the problem within your control or outside your control?
What do you like about it? Which character is your favorite, and how do you relate to them? Do you have a favorite quote from this book?
What did you do, and how did it make you feel? Was the recipient grateful? Would you do the same thing again?
Is it something precious to you or something you feel guilty about? Is this secret affecting your life or mental health? If the secret is something negative, how can you come to terms with it or make amends?
Why do you love it? Do you wear these clothes often, or do they hang untouched in your closet? Is this outfit more about comfort or style? What kind of look is it, and what does it say about you?
What’s stopping you from going to this place? Have you ever been there before? Why is this the place you chose?
Using words that are meaningful to you, create a phrase (or several phrases) to remind yourself of your worth. Think about powerful affirmations like “I deserve happiness,” “I’ll get through this,” or “I am worth it.”
Remember, it’s okay not to be okay. Journaling can be one powerful tool to help you cope with difficult situations, learn more about yourself, and improve your overall health — from a stronger immune system to clearer skin.
But you also don’t have to endure your struggles alone! Asking for help is not weak. If you need someone to talk to, the SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline (1-877-726-4727) can speak with you about services in your area.
Take care and be kind to yourself. We’re rooting for you!
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