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.
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 self. It’s also really effective in priming the pump per se when it comes to getting the most out of more targeted journaling sessions.
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.
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.
Kate is currently learning to play the Ukulele, much to the despair of her husband, kids, and dogs. Follow her on Instagram at @witanddelight_.
BY Kate Arends - April 24, 2023
Did you know W&D now has a resource library of Printable Art, Templates, Freebies, and more?
Thank you for being here. For being open to enjoying life’s simple pleasures and looking inward to understand yourself, your neighbors, and your fellow humans! I’m looking forward to chatting with you.
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?
I completely know what you mean, Jessica! The blank page is sometimes the hardest part of journaling. I hope these prompts are helpful. Take care!
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.
I’m so glad this resonated, Ashley! I definitely hear what you’re saying. I think getting our thoughts down on paper is always, always worthwhile, but sometimes it is nice to be able to have a more focused, productive journaling session. Wishing you well!
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!
Thanks for commenting, Dylan! It sounds like it’s meant to be. I hope you find the process helpful!
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.
This is amazing! Thanks for sharing!
So glad it resonated with you!
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!
I hope you find them helpful!!
At first writing a journal felt so hard but im getting the hook of it gradually, thank you
Fantastic blog Kate I used your prompts for my group therapy -thanks for all you do
So good to hear, thanks for your comment!
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.
I’m so glad you found them helpful!
No offense you can find this prompt and questions many places not to unique see these things a lot.
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 🙂
I’m so glad to hear these will be helpful for you!
Good article. You really should credit Julia Cameron on the morning pages tip though.
Thank you for pointing this out! I’ve added this credit within the post.
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.
It’s never too late! I think journaling can be so helpful, even if only done on occasion.
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.
Thank you for sharing! Journaling is an amazing way to help with that.
Dandu is love, Dandu is life.
Seems like an annoying typical tv documentary with too many people who werent directly related… talking n wasting time
I had no idea what morning pages were, and I already had an old copy of “The Artists Way” on my bookcase. I can’t wait to give them a try in the morning!