How often do you prioritize self-care? What methods work best for you?
Keeping a daily journal is a helpful way to check in with yourself, and it can be a powerful outlet to channel stress or anxiety into something more positive. Individuals with mental health issues may struggle to prioritize self-care because their thoughts feel too chaotic, but journaling techniques can actually help them gain clarity, calm, and focus.
Writing is an excellent form of self-care because it forces us to pause, take a moment, and reflect. If you experience elevated anxiety symptoms in your daily life, taking time to write down your feelings can help calm your mind more than you realize.
In this post, we’ll discuss how journal prompts for mental health can be beneficial for people who are living with mental illness and need an outlet to channel their negative thoughts and emotions in a productive way.
How does journaling help mental health?
Journaling may not cure mental illness, but it definitely has its place in supporting general mental health and well-being. Writing in a journal can ease mental distress and help people understand their emotional expression, get clarity about why they feel and react in certain ways, and gain a deeper insight into how their minds and emotions function.
Mental health journal prompts can also do the following:
1. Shift your mindset
Journaling doesn’t necessarily have to only be about negative emotions and thoughts. When you write about things going well in your life and what you’re grateful for, over time your outlook on life can shift to a more positive one. Once you feel this positive impact, you’ll be encouraged to keep journaling for self-care.
We know that a positive mindset can positively impact mental health, which can, in turn, improve your physical health as well. What do you have to lose? Give it a shot!
2. Identify triggers and patterns
Keeping a self-care journal can provide insight into particular situations, interactions, and relationships that trigger feelings of anxiety and affect your mental well-being. Over time, a peek into your daily life may help you notice trends and behaviors that you display when you are stressed, triggered, or anxious.
Identifying your triggers can help you gain clarity on what events or people cause anxiety or negative emotions. Once you know what your triggers are, you can work through these feelings in your journaling journey and in therapy.
3. Provides clarity
Think about a time when you’ve been stressed or anxious, and you’ve spoken to a trusted family member or friend. Sometimes, just getting the words out and talking about them provides a sense of relief. Once you start writing, all the feelings and emotions come spilling out of you as you write.
If you feel overwhelmed or anxious, journaling can have the same positive impact that talking to a trusted friend would. Simply putting your feelings and emotions on paper may ease some of the anxiety or stress you’re experiencing and can help you find clarity.
4. Promotes self-love
The more you write down your feelings and take the time to understand your thought process, the more understanding and accepting you will be towards yourself. A self-care journal teaches acceptance and encourages you to show yourself the same compassion as you do others. You can start small by trying to improve self-talk, avoid judging yourself too harshly, and acknowledge how important self-care is for your well-being.
Getting started: Creating a mental health journal
There is no right or wrong way to start journaling. Your mental health journal can be as simple as a small notebook you keep near your nightstand, a fancy leather journal, or many other forms of writing, like on the Notes app on your phone or on your computer. Whatever format inspires you to start writing is the best journal you can use.
If you need an extra push to put pen to paper, the following may help:
- Start by writing about your daily life, and see where your thoughts take you
- Find a quiet place to focus so you can write without any distractions
- Try to describe your feelings in the present moment so you can reflect later on
- Try listening to calming music as you write to help you focus
3 Popular Journaling Techniques
There are a variety of journaling techniques that can be used in order to
1. Brain Dump
The brain dump method is a popular writing technique for a self-care journal because it encourages individuals to write down every single thing on their minds. With the goal of emptying thoughts from your brain, those with anxiety may experience a calming effect once they’ve completed a brain dump. It can be difficult to process emotions and feelings properly when your mind is racing, so “brain dumping” can help alleviate the chaos.
2. Bullet Journaling
Bullet journaling is a great approach for beginners; you simply list out your thoughts in bullet points as they come. The bullet points don’t have to make sense or be connected, making it similar to a brain dump.
Bullet journaling can help you discover patterns in your cognitive processing and see what themes are present in your thoughts. From there, you’ll be able to identify what in your life may be causing you stress and anxiety.
3. Gratitude Journal
Starting a gratitude journal is another simple way to begin journaling for your mental health. Whether you start your day with a few thankful thoughts or describe the positive things that happened during the day, a gratitude journal helps reframe your thinking to become inherently more positive and optimistic.
25 Journal Prompts for Self Reflection
Writing prompts can help in case you have writer’s block. If you try to write in a journal and end up just staring at a blank page, you may need journal prompts to help inspire you to put pen to paper.
Here are a few writing prompts for mental health that can help guide you in the right direction.
- What are your strengths in relationships?
- How do you safeguard yourself in relationships?
- How do you draw boundaries in friendships or relationships?
- List 5 things you are grateful for.
- What personality traits do you value in a significant other?
- When do you feel the happiest? When do you feel sad?
- How do you show compassion to others?
- What are three things you forgive yourself for?
- Where are you most relaxed? Describe this place.
- Describe a moment of joy you experienced today.
- What was the most rewarding part of your day?
- What do you think your best character traits are?
- Write yourself a love letter.
- What would you tell your teenage self if you could go back in time?
- How do you cope with stressful events in your life?
- Describe yourself in one positive word.
- What worked in your previous relationships? What do you expect from potential partners?
- What character traits do you wish for your future children?
- How do you calm your anxious thoughts or emotions?
- What is working in your current relationship? What are you happy about?
- Who is the most important person in your life?
- Who do you draw strength from?
- What or who makes you feel fulfilled?
- Name five traits you love about yourself.
- How do you find peace when you feel anxious?
Find Anxiety Treatment & Mental Health Support at Clear Behavioral Health
If you prioritize time each day, journaling can have a tremendous impact on your mental health. A self-care journal is a great start on a journey to improve mental health and well-being, but it should not be used as an alternative to therapy.
When used in conjunction with therapy, many individuals find clarity and relief in using journal prompts for mental health issues. At Clear Behavioral Health, our virtual intensive outpatient program (IOP) offers an anxiety treatment program via secure video conferencing. Contact us for more information.