If you have never tried journaling, you might think it doesn't have many benefits. But did you know journaling can help you manage your stress in a healthy way? Journaling helps your brain regulate your emotions, so even the most challenging emotions will feel less intense than they would if you didn't journal.
Journaling helps you prioritize problems, fears, and concerns, and it helps you identify negative self-talk, thoughts, and behaviors so that you can make a positive change in your life. Journaling is a tool that can help you reduce depression, anxiety, and stress, although it should not be used in replacement of traditional therapy.
Since journaling is so beneficial for your mental health, you should absolutely incorporate it into your self-care regimen! Before we jump into the top journal prompts for self-care, let's first cover how to journal.
How to Start a Journal
Honestly, how you start a journal is up to you and your individual preferences. You can stick to a physical journal and a nice pen, or you can choose to type on your laptop in a document, or type in the Notes app on your phone.
Personally, I choose paper and pen, and since my family knows I like to journal, they always buy me journals and pens. I always love being gifted with beautiful journals and nice pens, but that's just my personal preference. Whatever you choose, whatever is most convenient for you, will benefit you! I find that if you do choose to keep a pen-and-paper journal, get a really nice, smooth pen. It will feel so much better when you write.
Also, you have the option of having multiple journals at once. There are plenty of forms of journaling. You can have a bullet journal, a journal for goals, a free-writing journal, a dream journal, and there are so many more options!
Right now, I have a bullet journal for my career and job, a "goals" journal where I write down daily, weekly, and long-term goals (like cleaning out my closet), and a free-writing journal, where I just write about my life, thoughts, and desires. But in the past, I only really wanted one journal for everything. It's completely up to you, and your preferences may change over time!
How often you should write in your journal is also up to you. Maybe at first, try to just get in the habit of doing it by writing for a couple minutes each day. But since I've been journaling for years, I don't force it, and only pick up the pen when I feel like it. One week, I might never journal that week. Another week, I might journal every single day. It's really just when I feel like doing it at this point, but after first, I wrote in my journal every day.
And finally, when you're done with your journal, you can either save it or destroy it. I know plenty of people who like to save their journals. Personally, for me, it depends on what was happening during my life while I kept the journal. If it wasn't a positive time period, I will burn the journal or rip it up to shreds. It feels good to do that! At the same time, I do like saving it if I had the journal throughout a great time in my life.
If you're keeping a digital journal, you can either save it or delete it.
One last tip – don't ever worry about spelling, grammar, or your handwriting while you journal. Your journal is a judgment-free zone, not an English essay.
Top Journal Prompts for Self-Care
And now we will dive into the top journal prompts for self-care! You can use these prompts repeatedly if it benefits you. Or you can stop using prompts as you solidify the habit of journaling. It's completely up to you! That's the best thing about journaling. You can choose how you approach it!
What am I grateful for and content with in my life?
Research has found repeatedly that there are many benefits of gratitude. Focusing on gratitude makes us happier, increases our psychological well-being, enhances positive emotions, increases self-esteem, and so many more benefits.
Plus, this also shows you what you don't want to change in your life. Which leads us to the next journal prompt...
What am I unsatisfied with in my life? How can I go about making a change?
A lot of times, we just live our lives on auto-pilot without thinking of what we're actually not happy with. Or we just accept it as our realities, without acknowledging our own power to change our circumstances. Of course, some things, we simply have no control over. But focus on what you do have control over. What are you not content with in your life, and how can you change your situation?
What limiting beliefs are holding me back from living my dream life?
Maybe you have the dream of getting paid to travel the world, but your brain always defaults to the belief that you can never achieve such a life. That's called a limiting belief. Since you believe you never could, you just never even try. Your own brain limits your ability to change your life. Identifying your limiting beliefs is the first step to dismantling them.
What is one adjustment I'd like to make in my routine?
Our routines are simple tasks we completely every day, and they shape our lives. Identifying ways that you can add to your routine or take something away is a simple way to change your life one step at a time. What adjustment would you like to make? Try making one adjustment a week. Maybe you start to wash your dishes every single time you eat. Whatever it is, know that within your routine, you have the power to shape a different life for yourself.
What is one thing I can do to reduce stress in my life?
We all have to do self-care activities that aren't necessarily fun. Whether that be cleaning or meal prepping, while these activities are not fun, they do reduce our stress. Lately, I've been preparing lunches for my week so that I don't have to worry about buying food at work. It's been reducing my stress, even though I don't look forward to doing it. Think of one way you can reduce your stress, even if it's a "boring" activity.
What are my top priorities and goals in life?
Sometimes, we have so many responsibilities to attend to on a daily basis that we forget what we're working towards. Write down your top priorities and goals in your life so that you have motivation every day to continue on your path. Change your perspective of My work is tedious to This is helping me meet my goals.
What makes me feel relaxed?
When we're feeling particularly stressed out, it can be hard to remember how to relax ourselves. Make a list of what activities help you feel relaxed so that you can refer back to it when the stress is taking control. This will make it easier to calm yourself down in the future!
What am I proud of myself for?
Oftentimes, we wait for outside sources to give us validation. Whether we crave validation from our parents, our boss, or our friends, we should practice giving it to ourselves. People are busy with their own lives, and their first priority is not to validate you. So make it your own priority to validate yourself, so that even when outside sources don't give you validation, you are okay on your own.
What do I need to forgive myself for?
We all make mistakes, and we are all too hard on ourselves. Write yourself a letter of forgiveness to lift a weight off your shoulders. Also think about anyone else you want to write a letter of forgiveness to. Remember, this letter is only for you, so you don't have to send it to the other person if you don't want to.
What do I want my life to look like in 3 years?
Although it's important to focus on the present moment, we also have to think about how we can make ourselves happier in our futures. What do you want your life to look like? Having a clear idea of what you want makes it easier for you to make an action plan on how to get there.
What inspires you?
Maybe you get up every day to go to the gym at 5 AM. What inspires you to do that? What inspires you to wake up for work every day? What is your purpose in life? You can look back at this journal entry whenever you are feeling uninspired. It will reignite the flame inside you.
What can I do to help myself grow?
Whether you want to improve your physical, emotional, mental, financial, or social well-being, what can you do to help yourself? Maybe that's taking group fitness classes, or maybe you want to get certified in certain skills. Whatever your goals are, how can you achieve them?
Most of all, don't forget to enjoy yourself!
Journaling is an excellent self-care practice to help you improve your well-being. But try not to make it a chore. If you're finding you just absolutely hate writing, make it more fun for yourself.
Maybe you write simple lists, rather than long letters. Or maybe you create a visual journal if you enjoy drawing and art. Or maybe you prefer to talk out loud, so you record it in your Voice Memos app. Or maybe you'd rather take videos of yourself talking and store them on your computer.
Don't be afraid to get creative and have fun with it. Journaling should make you feel better, not worse! No one way of journaling is better than another. Do what works for you and makes you happy!