Blog Mental Health 9 Practical Journaling Prompts for Mental Health

9 Practical Journaling Prompts for Mental Health

Putting your thoughts down on paper may sound a bit old-fashioned. In the tech-driven world, we’re stuck to our phones, navigating every situation through a couple of screen touches. 

However, the efficacy of journaling, particularly when you use a pen and a sheet of paper, offers real mental health benefits. Briefly, journaling is the act of writing down your thoughts and emotions and describing situations from the past or possibilities in the future on paper. 

If you’re used to typing your notes on your phone or iPad, that could also work. 

The main thing is to stay true to yourself and honestly describe your present state. Journaling is designed as a coping strategy for some and mental self-care for others. 

Starting a journaling habit requires a certain amount of discipline as some of us may be forgetful and distracted by other issues. 

This article is for those who have done journaling before and are searching for more efficient prompts or those who haven’t written their thoughts and insights down so far but are interested in giving it a shot. 

Whatever your reasons, you can start journaling at any time. Read through these 10 practical journaling prompts for mental health and reap the key benefits from this process. 

What Are Deep Journaling Prompts for Mental Health?

Try these effective and easy daily journal prompts for mental health. It’s essential to turn this into your Healthy Habit

The best ways to build a healthy habit (4) when  journaling are: 

  • Starting small. Instead of filling out long pages, write down a few sentences. 
  • Making it easy. Avoid sounding perfect and focusing on your grammar. Write in simple sentences rather than falling into long, confusing ones. 
  • Doing it daily, or at least on a regular schedule. Setting a schedule to journal online or on paper reminds you of this process and will decrease your chances of forgetting about it.

Now, let’s jump right into the 9 prompts:

  1. Write about how you’ve spent your day.
  2. Disclose your real feelings about friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. – aka people you care about or spend time with.
  3. Observe what you see, hear, smell, and feel around you, and describe this. 
  4. If you’ve lost someone, or have broken up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, write a letter expressing your feelings and emotions. 
  5. Write down a couple of things you’re grateful for. 
  6. Describe a challenging situation and jot down the lessons you’ve learned from it. 
  7. Write a letter to your future self expressing your aspirations, hopes, and dreams.
  8. Describe the things/qualities you love about yourself and what you can do to contribute to your well-being. 
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Efficient Methods to Address Childhood Trauma 

journaling prompts for mental health  

Write about how you’ve spent your day

Grab a pen and a sheet of paper, turn on tranquil music in the background, and dive into analyzing your day – who you’ve seen, and talked to, how much work you’ve done, describing your overall feelings about yourself. 

You can mull over today’s conversations and make conclusions about your behavior and emotions during this time. Reflecting on your communication and analyzing it is not a waste of time and is a good strategy for addressing your pros and cons during certain situations. 

For example, if you admit that you’ve overreacted to something, the next time you might behave differently. 

Disclose your real feelings about friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. – aka people you care about or spend time with

Different people evoke different emotions in us. Sometimes, even our closest friends start behaving weirdly, which makes us feel insecure and unsafe around them. The worst thing you can do at this point is hide your negative feelings about someone you care about. 

For example, you’ve met a pal, but then you get home and something feels off. You come up with all the possible excuses and realize that this isn’t okay in a healthy relationship. 

Writing down the true feelings people provoke in you may help you set boundaries. Toxic relationships are more common than you might think and being surrounded by toxic friends, lovers, family, or co-workers can be detrimental to your mental health (5). 

You need to reduce their impact on you or decrease communication with people who make you miserable. 

Whether you want to learn how to exit the spiral of self-harming behavior, overcome anxiety, cure insomnia or simply give yourself the time and space to bliss out and soak up the moment of complete peace and quiet – BetterMe: Meditation & Sleep app is exactly the tool for that ! If you don’t take care of number one, who will?

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Observe what you see, hear, smell, and feel around you, and describe this

Mindful journaling is a great way to capture present emotions and feelings. We often either reflect on the past or the future without realizing how strongly we distract ourselves from the present reality. 

The next time you trek to the park, find a bench and start journaling everything you see, hear, smell, feel, and touch. Draw doodles or sketches – anything works. 

If you’ve lost someone, or have broken up with a boyfriend/girlfriend, write a letter expressing your feelings and emotions

A letter to the person you loved and cared about but are no longer in touch with is a nice way of either saying goodbye or forgiving them. As you won’t be sharing this letter with anyone, you can allow yourself a prolific emotional expression without hiding your feelings, whether this is anger, frustration, appreciation, or pleasure.

At first, you’ll admit your pain or happiness (depending on the situation), identify it, and may learn to go on living with these feelings more peacefully. After writing a letter, you can read it out loud and then burn it or leave it in a drawer. It’s up to you. 

Write down a couple of things you’re grateful for

Gratitude journaling is good for your mental well-being. Start by listing things and people you’re grateful for. Concentrate on simple things, such as walking in the park, eating your favorite meal, or spending time with a beloved person. 

All the details help you relieve positive emotions and look at your life from a different angle.

You can also appreciate your friends, family, or other people and activities you care about even more.  

Describe a challenging situation and jot down the lessons you have learned from it

Every challenge gives us the opportunity for better change. Reflect on a recent challenge, confess your struggles and fears about it, and tell yourself what you’ve learned from it. 

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By doing this, you’ll capture your emotions and track your growth at the same time. In addition, you’ll arm yourself to face the next challenge more confidently, despite how different it may be from the previous one. 

Write a letter to your future self expressing your aspirations, hopes, and dreams

Write a letter expressing your thoughts about the things you value, your plans for the future, and the dreams you have. Put the letter in an envelope and write the date on top for you to remember when to open it. This is a great way to structure your thoughts and later, to reflect on the path you’ve taken. 

Read more: What Childhood Trauma Do I Have?

Describe the things/qualities you love about yourself and what you can do to contribute to your well-being

Loving and appreciating your true self is vital for your mental health. Reflect on the qualities you admire in yourself: your kindness to animals, your positivity that you spread among others, your love for a sport that helps you stay healthy, or your self-care routine. 

Write down the things that could enhance your well-being even more. This could be a health check-up, reducing the amount of alcohol you consume, or even starting therapy (the last one is always beneficial if you’re struggling with mental health problems). 

journaling prompts for mental health  

Does Journaling Actually Help Mental Health?

Journaling may help mental health by: 

  • Managing worries
  • Reducing stress (6)

It can also improve your mood by:

  • Helping you prioritize issues and concerns
  • Tracking any symptoms daily so you can recognize triggers and learn ways to control them
  • Providing an opportunity for identifying negative thoughts and behaviors and positive self-talk (6)

One study demonstrated the efficacy of journaling in managing mental illness (2). Women who were diagnosed with breast cancer who wrote about their experience with the disease were found to have fewer physical symptoms and fewer cancer-related medical appointments. Other studies on journaling have highlighted even more potential benefits, including improved blood pressure, better immune health, and the ability to cope with grief and trauma (3).

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As previously mentioned, journaling can be effective for managing anxious thoughts. In one study, people with anxiety had to perform a reflective writing practice online for 15 minutes every day, three days per week for 12 weeks. Others were assigned to their usual anxiety treatment. Within 12 weeks, those who did the writing practice reported lower levels of anxiety and mental distress, greater resilience, and more prolific social integration (8).

However, some researchers have found that writing about negative emotions may increase anxiety and depression levels (9). If you’re struggling with anxiety and depression, you should contact a mental health provider.

What Are 5 Ways to Improve Mental Health?

Although journaling is effective, it shouldn’t be treated as a way of healing your mental health. Here are five steps for improving your mental health (1):

  • Connect with other people

Building good relationships with others is beneficial for your mental health as it can give you a sense of self-worth and belonging, allow you to share positive moments with others, and provide emotional support and the ability to support others. Here’s what you can do at this point: 

  • Spend a day with your friends
  • Volunteer at a local school, hospital, library, or community group
  • Take time to spend with your family
  • Have a digital detox for a day and spend it with your peers
  • Engage your body 

Being active is excellent for your mental health as it:

  • Raises self-esteem
  • Causes chemical changes that positively impact your mood
  • Helps you set goals and achieve them

Any sport can be beneficial: running, stretching, Pilates, yoga, volleyball, or anything that moves your body. There’s no need to spend hours at the gym and you should pick the most appealing activity you can easily integrate into your routine. 

With stress being a constant presence in our lives, taking time to process emotions, decompress and get into the right frame of mind is absolutely crucial. With BetterMe: Meditation & Sleep app your mental health is in good hands! Start using it now!

  • Help and give to others

Being kind to other people may enhance your mental health by: 

  • Creating positive feelings and a sense of reward
  • Helping you connect with other people
  • Giving you a feeling of self-worth and purpose
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You can give to people in various ways: by smiling at strangers in grocery stores, saying thank you to someone when they help you, volunteering in your community, or spending time with relatives and friends who need support. 

  • Be mindful and stay in the present

Pay attention to the things around you: hear the sounds, watch others, and focus on your sensations and thoughts. Mindfulness is a practical way to feel better about yourself, enjoy present life without jumping into the past or future, and understand yourself better. 

  • Tackle new skills 

Learning new skills can benefit your mental well-being by: 

  • Boosting confidence and self-esteem
  • Helping you identify your purpose
  • Helping you connect with new people

There are many things you can do to improve your mental health: try cooking a new meal, sign up for a course, try new challenging hobbies that may take you out of your comfort zone, or take a trip to another city. 

Read more: Healing Childhood Trauma Methods That Really Work

journaling prompts for mental health  


  • How do I start journaling for mental health?

If you want to start journaling, do the following things: spare some free time during each day at any place you want and make it all easy without striving for perfection (focus more on simple sentences that reflect your true emotions and feelings); if you don’t like writing, try to draw something, create a doodle or a sketch – that will work too. 

  • What kind of journaling helps anxiety?

Positive affect journaling – the act of writing your thoughts and feelings – has been linked to reduced anxiety and depression and improved well-being. People understand themselves more and recognize what they need to do to promote their mental state. 

  • How do you journal intrusive thoughts?

There are no special rules for journaling intrusive thoughts. However, identifying them and writing them on a sheet of paper or in your online app by expressing your feelings toward them can work well. Write down all your intrusive thoughts, read them aloud, and try to identify a plan for what you could do in each scenario. 

  • What should be in a mood journal?

In your mood journal, you should keep everything that affects your mood: your job, the people you talk to and spend time with, your enemies, pets, challenges, and goals. You can mood journal by simply letting yourself know how you felt in a certain situation and writing down the emotions this situation caused. You could also ruminate on the ways you could handle the issue differently so that it won’t mess with your mood so much. 

The Bottom Line

Journaling can be an excellent way to identify your emotions and thoughts in certain situations, which may help promote your mental well-being. 

You’ve learned the key 9 journaling prompts for mental health: Writing about your day, disclosing your true feelings about people, getting creative, trying mindful journaling, writing a letter that expresses your feelings and emotions, trying gratitude journaling, describing a challenging situation, writing a letter to your future self, and describing the qualities you love about yourself and what you can do to contribute to your well-being. 

Journaling can benefit your mental health by reducing symptoms of anxiety and depression and improving your mood, blood pressure, immune health, and your ability to cope with grief and trauma. 

Other ways to enhance your mental health include staying physically active, giving to others, learning a new skill, connecting with others, and being mindful. 

You should talk to a specialist who can guide you through your mental health improvement journey. 


This article is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional advice or help and should not be relied on to make decisions of any kind. Any action you take upon the information presented in this article is strictly at your own risk and responsibility!


  1. 5 steps to mental wellbeing (2022,
  2. Efficacy of journaling in the management of mental illness: a systematic review and meta-analysis (2022,
  3. Emotional and physical health benefits of expressive writing (2018,
  4. How to Build Healthy Habits (2021,
  5. How Toxic Relationships Affect Your Mental Health (2023,
  6. Journaling for Emotional Wellness (2024,
  7. Mental Health Benefits of Journaling (2024,
  8. Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial (2018,
  9. The effects of journaling for women with newly diagnosed breast cancer (2005,