20 Journaling Prompts I Swear By to Get You Out of Your Head

Health & Wellness

Journaling Prompts | Wit & Delight
Photo by Nicole Feest at NYLONSADDLE Photography

Originally published in March 2020

There is no better way to understand the way you think and what’s going through your head than to journal. The problem I’ve found is that the act of journaling is so open-ended that when it is most beneficial for me to do it, I avoid it.

Sound familiar? If this is one of the roadblocks you face when it comes to journaling, this post is here to help. I want to take the guesswork out of how you can journal effectively, without the impending paralysis that sometimes results from an open-ended prompt. 

If you’re in the market for a new journal, give one of these a try:

My first tip? Start by writing “Morning Pages.”

Whether you are new to journaling or are just here to get some new prompts to try, consider doing a “mental download” first using the “Morning Pages” method. (“Morning Pages” is a writing practice developed by author Julia Cameron. Wit & Delight contributor Ellen Koneck wrote a helpful post about this topic, which you can read here.) It’s a great way to get your mental gears greased and clean out any fragments of unfinished tasks, things to remember, or notes to yourself. It’s also really effective in priming the pump per se when it comes to getting the most out of more targeted journaling sessions.

Next, dive into journaling prompts.

Once you’ve done around ten minutes of subconscious, nonlinear writing, I suggest moving on to journaling prompts. I keep a list handy that I can refer to and take inventory of what I’m up against that day or at that moment. If I’m feeling anxious, I know which list to focus on.

Sometimes we journal to connect with ourselves; other times we journal to find perspective in moments that feel out of control. Given the bizarre times we’re living in and the spread of COVID-19, journaling is becoming an incredibly handy tool for this worrier

When done correctly, journaling can be calming and clearing for your mind. It can help in releasing pent-up feelings and everyday stress. It can help you let go of negative thoughts while exploring your experiences with anxiety in a safe way.

The truth is, writing your thoughts down in a journal can positively impact your anxiety on a holistic level. When done correctly, journaling can be calming and clearing for your mind. It can help in releasing pent-up feelings and everyday stress. It can help you let go of negative thoughts while exploring your experiences with anxiety in a safe way.

When we get in the habit of writing about our struggles AND our successes, we begin to see enhanced self-awareness while also teaching ourselves about our triggers. Below you’ll find some of my favorite journaling prompts that have worked wonders for me.

Journaling Prompts for Self-Discovery

  1. What do I know to be true that I didn’t know a year ago?
  2. What distractions get in the way of being my most productive?
  3. When do I feel most in tune with myself?
  4. If someone described me, what would they say?
  5. What can wait until next week?
  6. How does every part of my body feel at this moment?

Journaling Prompts for Managing Emotions

  1. What emotions am I holding on to?
  2. How can I detach or neutralize this emotion?
  3. Why am I doing X?
  4. Why am I feeling this way?
  5. What is causing these feelings?
  6. Have I tried to take my ego out of the situation?
  7. How can I detach my emotions from the behavior of others?
  8. Did I use healthy boundaries before I began feeling this way?

Read this post for more guidance on how to process emotions through journaling.

Journaling Prompts for Anxiety and Depression

  1. What hurts right now? How can I find relief?
  2. When I look in the mirror, what do I see?
  3. What are the things in my home that are the most “me”?
  4. What am I doing right now?
  5. What happened before I felt a shift in my mood?
  6. Write down an entire list of what you are worried about. Star the items that you know are 100% true and not solely a feeling.

If you aren’t convinced, research shows journaling can greatly improve your overall well-being. Now grab a notebook, pour some tea (or whiskey?), and let the words fly.

BY Kate Arends - April 24, 2023

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March 16, 2020 4:43 pm

thanks for the 101. ive always thought having a journal would be a good idea to just release all my thoughts but ive never really known how to begin you know?

stay safe!!
Beijinhos Jessy

March 16, 2020 5:16 pm

I love this. I’ve been a journaler for as long as I can remember, but sometimes I even get fed up with MYSELF because the journal quickly becomes a stream of consciousness. I’ve wondered if it’s effective aside from just getting things out of my head. So I love the idea of the prompts so my journaling can be more productive.

March 26, 2020 2:03 am

Wow I had never heard of morning pages, AND a used copy of “The Artists Way” is sitting on my bookshelf. Can’t wait to try my hand at them tomorrow morning!

May 4, 2021 1:32 am

I hate to say it, but 2-1, 1-3, 2-3, 3-3 and 4-3 are the only questions I can answer or even partially answer. The rest elicit an “I have no idea” response. Maybe journaling just isn’t for me after all.

October 4, 2021 9:25 pm
Reply to  Arizona


May 24, 2021 1:17 pm

This is amazing! Thanks for sharing!

June 14, 2021 12:33 pm

I’ve been writing in a journal since I was 7 years old. I struggle to find things to write about sometimes, so thank you for the prompts!

October 4, 2021 9:26 pm

At first writing a journal felt so hard but im getting the hook of it gradually, thank you

February 17, 2022 3:45 pm

Fantastic blog Kate I used your prompts for my group therapy -thanks for all you do

Kaitlyn Dawn
May 25, 2022 8:41 pm

I’ve always been a peron who struggled with anexity and the feeling of losing something and it really made me try journaling because someone told me its like tallking to a person but its hidden to where only you know about what you wrote that is until you decide to share your story and change the world from it but it really made me realise that I can be a better person by letting my feelings go and I just wanna say thank you for the prompts they helped a bunch.

Lauren Marzec
June 14, 2022 4:24 pm

No offense you can find this prompt and questions many places not to unique see these things a lot.

July 29, 2022 9:25 am

Thank you so much for such insightful journal prompts. I run a discord server for me and my friends where we all have our own private channel to journal our emotions and insecurities, but also to help us grow and heal..these will be really helpful 🙂

August 26, 2022 5:31 pm

Good article. You really should credit Julia Cameron on the morning pages tip though.

August 29, 2022 10:09 am

Read you posting and the comments and wondering if I am doing things wrong. First, am 75 and have done some journal writing on and off for years. Keep “dropping” out of it and starting over. Making a conscious effort now to write down feelings, ideas (daily) and past life experiences. Am I too late in doing this? Just seeking another opinion. Thanks.

taylor gray
January 10, 2023 11:45 am

I WILL be becoming a journaler. I only want to do this for my mental health and letting out my feelings. Sometimes I feel like I can’t control my anxiety and depression. I feel like this would be a very good way to let out my emotions and control my anxiety.

April 21, 2023 7:33 am

Dandu is love, Dandu is life.

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