While you may be familiar with the benefits of journaling, you may also experience the common lack of inspiration that follows the attempt to put down words. Journal prompts help you get started with writing about your day, life, thoughts, affirmations, success, self-discovery, stressors, and other aspects of yourself that you may want to explore.
Why Write a Journal?
Journaling is a practice that dates as far back as when humans started writing. Over time, journaling has served a wide range of purposes. And mental health professionals associate the practice with health benefits3 that include coping with grief, managing stress, self-affirmation, and even conflict resolution.
There are many reasons why we should write in a journal. Psychologist, Robert A. Neimeyer, helps us to understand that when we detail our experiences in writing, we can connect events with how they directly affect us1. Thus “fostering a coherent sense of identity”.
One paper in the Journal of School Counseling puts this way: “the intellectual, reflective, and interactive processes of journaling make it a resourceful therapeutic teaching, learning and counselling tool2”
While therapists have adapted journaling as a useful tool for assisting patients, we don’t have to restrict the use of journaling to therapy. Expressive writing helps us to process our feelings and put structure to our stream of consciousness. It helps us better form our ideas, life goals, challenges, and so on. Writing about stressful events may even help in dealing with their impact on our mental health and general well-being.
What Should I Write in My Journal?
With the growing popularity of journaling, we can write across a wide variety of subjects. These prompts are basic ideas, statements, or questions that inspire you to write about a topic.
In your journal, you can detail the course of your day, save quotes or questions that pique your interest, write a to-do list, note down your plans, discuss your negative or positive feelings, keep a running list of important things you do not want to forget, and so on.
With all these benefits in mind, getting started with journaling may prove to be a challenge. Because the inspiration for writing doesn’t come easy, so, for those days when you need to journal but don’t know how here are 110 ideas and questions that can get you started.
110 Journal Prompts
Journaling prompts for motivation.
It is not uncommon for us to need motivation, and we find that journaling can be instrumental in driving personal growth and achieving goals. The key is to engage your mind with the right thoughts and words. Check out these journal prompts to get started.
- What do you want?
- Who do you admire the most, and why?
- What music do you listen to, and why?
- If you could change one thing about yourself, what would it be? Why do you want to change it?
- Where would you like to be in five years?
- What drives you?
- Which steps are you taking to achieve your goals?
- What have you done recently that you are proud of?
- In what aspects are you lacking? How can you improve?
- What is your definition of success?
Journaling for self-discovery
Journaling is useful when trying to understand oneself. These questions can guide you into writing information that will help you decipher your personality and its various facets.
- What can you not imagine living without?
- What words do you like to live by?
- When you are in any kind of pain, what is the kindest thing you can do for yourself?
- Make a list of 20 things that make you smile.
- What does unconditional love look like for you?
- Is there one thing you wish your friends and family members knew about you?
- What do you love about life?
- How do you feel about your body?
- What makes you insecure?
- What colour would you say best describes you? Why do you think so?
Journaling prompts to kickstart your day.
If you would like to start your day off by writing in your journal, start with one from this list, and work your way through it.
- What are you looking forward to?
- Outline your plans for the day in as much detail as possible.
- Who do you look forward to seeing?
- Are there any new things you’d like to try?
- What have you put in place to ensure the day is a success?
- What does the weather tell you? How do you feel about it?
- Will you exercise? If yes, what exercises do you plan to try out?
- Have you made provisions for unexpected hiccups?
- What mindset are you starting the day with?
- Does it feel like it will be a good day?
Self-affirming journaling prompts
These listed prompts help in starting or inspiring self-affirmation in journaling.
- I am beautiful because…
- Something unique about me is…
- Whenever I feel inadequate, I remember…
- I deserve [insert a privilege you enjoy] because I…
- I am making progress, and I know this because…
- What do you do to right your wrongs?
- I am qualified to handle [insert responsibility] because I…
- What do you want to be remembered for?
- List down three negative thoughts that come to mind. Rewrite them into positive thoughts.
- I deserve to be loved because…
Journaling prompts for documenting projects.
Journal writing is also an excellent method to keep track of your projects, processes, monitor progress and keep track of setbacks. Noting the dates helps to keep the project on its preferred timeline, and when done correctly, it ensures that you leave no details out. Check out journaling prompt ideas for documenting projects.
- Define the project. Be detailed as to what it entails and why you are embarking on it.
- List out clear-cut short and long-term goals for your project.
- List out possible setbacks. Discuss how each one can be handled.
- Analyse in writing any possible unexpected events/hiccups that may occur.
- If necessary, do a budget breakdown.
- List out everything needed for your project.
- Detail what help is needed for your project, and how you plan to access such help.
- Keep a comprehensive description of each step involved in the project from start to completion.
- Write about how your project makes you feel.
- Evaluate and review your work once completed.
Journaling for anxiety
Journaling as a means to manage anxiety is one method to compartmentalize, organize and address your worry. It is also a way in which you can increase your awareness on the things you can control, and on what thoughts require extra effort to quell. These starting points listed below can provide a little guidance on what to write about if you are journaling for anxiety.
- Detail five things that made you feel in control.
- List down your anxiety triggers.
- Describe how you feel at the moment. What could make you feel this way?
- Write ten ways in which you can take better care of yourself.
- Have you had any triggering events in the past week? What were they? How did you handle them?
- List five anxiety affirmations you know or use regularly.
- Recall five positive things that happened to you during the day and write them down. Emphasize how they made you feel.
- What are the top five things that inspire confidence in you?
- List five things anxiety has taught you.
- What does a life free from anxiety look like to you? Include as many details as possible.
Journaling for depression
Depression is becoming increasingly prevalent, and with it have come various methods to cope. Writing is always an excellent method to release negative emotions that can crop up in life. Therapists may recommend and even encourage it as is a healthy coping mechanism.
- What are you passionate about?
- List 5 things that have made you smile in the past week.
- What childhood dream do you plan to actualise? How would you like to do this?
- What do you look forward to the next day?
- Write a letter to the most supportive person you know.
- How do you get out of depressive episodes?
- List five of your short term goals.
- List five things you are grateful for.
- What challenges have you faced recently? How did you handle them?
Journaling for grief
Journaling may be helpful for people managing grief who experience acute and overwhelming symptoms or have not “revealed any consequences” that the professional deems favourable. By journaling, one may not only come to understand their grief but also learn to manage it. Below are some journal prompt ideas to help in expressing grief.
- What were they like?
- What do I wish I could forget?
- The most challenging time of the day is…
- Think, then write about your last memory with them.
- Write about your first memory with them.
- Write about the last time you both laughed together.
- What memory of them is most comforting?
- What often triggers the most intense feelings of loss in you?
- I am ready to feel…
- Today, I really miss…
Journaling prompts for combating intrusive thoughts.
It is important to battle intrusive thoughts as they come because these thoughts can quickly become disruptive and limiting. Journaling can help people combat negative thinking. Try out any of the journal prompts below to fend off those negative thoughts in life.
- Concisely state the thoughts you have. Why are they negative?
- What triggers intrusive thoughts? Is there a pattern?
- Are there certain places, events, people, or activities that can make you susceptible to entertaining intrusive thoughts?
- Identify ways in which your thoughts can harm/limit you.
- Are these thoughts internalised, or are you reacting to your environment?
- Do you believe these thoughts? Give detailed reasons for your answer.
- What thoughts do you have that directly contrast your negative intrusive thoughts? Which seems truer to you?
- What can letting go of these thoughts open up your mind to?
- What positive thoughts can you use to redirect your train of thought? Write them down.
- What can you channel your energy into as a distraction from these thoughts?
Journaling prompts for conflict resolution.
Journaling may help when dealing with conflicts. It may help you view the situation objectively and understand your role in promoting or dispelling that conflict. Start with the journal prompt in this list that you can answer easily, and then work your way through it.
- Who is this person to you? Describe the nature of your relationship.
- What is the reason for the conflict?
- How did this disagreement make you feel?
- Are there any ways you feel you could have prevented an escalation?
- In what ways are you right? Make a list.
- In what ways were you wrong? Make a list.
- Is a compromise possible? Go into detail.
- What happens if the disagreement goes unmanaged? Is this something you can allow?
- Do you plan to reach out? State how. Also, detail what you would like to discuss.
- If this happens again, I will…
Journal prompts for self-love.
Struggling with self-love can be made more accessible by writing, specifically in ways that inspire love, appreciation and respect for oneself. Some of these journal writing prompts can be helpful.
- What makes you happy?
- When are you your truest self?
- What are your strengths? How often do you make use of them?
- What five things do you appreciate about your relationships with your loved ones?
- What recurring compliments do you receive from others? Do you believe them? Give reasons for your answer.
- What can you do to be kinder to yourself? Set time-sensitive goals concerning this.
- How are you working on the things you perceive to be weaknesses in you?
- Ask a close friend to describe you in three words on paper, describe yourself in three words on paper. Compare the two and write about your observation.
- How do you think you could let go of the negative perceptions you have of yourself?
- How would you feel if you loved and accepted yourself completely? Is this something you’d like to achieve soon? What practical steps do you think you could take to accomplish that?
Journaling is for everyone, and you can use it as needed. Don’t wait for a reason to start your journaling journey. We may not always be able to manage or understand our thoughts correctly, but it certainly helps when we write them down.
By journaling, you create a paper trail of your growth and progress over the years. You can look back to evaluate your changes and see what worked and didn’t work for you. This could also help you build self-awareness, which is an essential trait to help you successfully navigate daily personal, life and work challenges.
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|Neimeyer, R. A. (Ed.). (2012). Series in death, dying, and bereavement. Techniques of grief therapy: Creative practices for counseling the bereaved. Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group.|
|Zyromski, B. (2007). Journaling: An underutilized school counseling tool. The Journal of School Counseling.|
|A new reason for keeping a diary. Siri Carpenter, American Psychological Assoication, September 2001, Vol 32, No. 8.|