This post may include affiliate links. If you purchase any products or services provided in these links, I may earn a small commission. This is at no extra cost to you and you are not obliged to purchase, use or recommend anything provided in these links. For more, please read my disclosure page.
Would you like to start journaling for anxiety and depression, but have no clue where to start? Or do you need to express yourself to keep your mind healthy? Well, you are in the right place! I have dealt with depression and anxiety for what feels like my entire life.
There have been many periods of my life where anxiety and depression completely took over. Not sleeping, isolating myself and not taking care of myself.
Depression and anxiety can make you feel like there is no way out. Life is no longer in colour, only black and white.
After going through such a gloomy time, I took steps to get my life back and journaling really helped.
HOW CAN JOURNALING HELP YOU WITH YOUR MENTAL HEALTH?
I know you’re probably wondering, how can writing things down help my mental health?
Well, it turns out there is a lot of evidence showing how effective journaling for mental health can be.
Journaling is an excellent way to manage the effects of stress, anxiety, and depression.
It gives you an opportunity to address your thoughts and emotions in a safe space and can help you assess your emotions and create steps to approach things in a way that is most healthy for you.
Writing in a journal can also help you understand what triggers you and what fuels you, which will help you have a well-rounded perspective of how you respond when things are going well and when things are not going so well.
MY JOURNAL JOURNEY
When I first started journaling, it wasn’t really for my depression or anxiety. I just needed somewhere to put all my thoughts.
Initially, I was doing massive brain dumps when my anxiety was at its worst. But after a while, I began writing about things more specific, like–What’s worrying me? What can I do to feel better? What do I need to let go of? Etc.
Slowly it became a habit. I looked forward to those 15 minutes each day where I could be honest and express all of my emotions and thoughts onto a page. It was a major stress release and helped me to gain perspective on different aspects of my life.
BENEFITS OF JOURNALING FOR YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
Besides the benefits already mentioned, journaling can also help you manage your anxiety and depression by:
- Decreasing the feeling of overwhelm
- Helping you identify your thought patterns and behaviours and become more self-aware
- Helping you to prioritize your fears, worries, and concerns
- Helping you recognise any triggers and learn how to deal with them
- Releasing and relieving stress
- Increasing happiness
- Improving communications skills
- Addressing and healing from trauma
HOW TO INCORPORATE JOURNALLING INTO YOUR DAILY ROUTINE
Adding journaling into your routine is a healthy habit to have and there are tons of benefits of adding it into your daily routine such as-
- Pushing you towards your goals and ambitions
- An opportunity to release any stress from the day
- It allows you to be more mindful and show a sense of gratitude
Introducing journaling to your daily routine is easy, start off by having a particular time to dedicate to writing. Journaling doesn’t have to be time consuming either.
You can set aside 15-30 mins dedicated to writing, either at the start or at the end of your day. Journaling for anxiety and depression for just 15 minutes a day can make a major difference!
Decide how you would like to gather your thoughts. If you’re like me and love the feel of a pen and paper, get a cute notebook or a bullet journal.
Alternatively, you can use a word document or write in the notes on your phone. It’s entirely up to you.
MORE USEFUL TIPS TO FOLLOW TO JOURNAL FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION
- Write in a private space – This could be your bedroom, office or even whilst taking a hot bath. Journal where you have the least distractions and the most privacy.
- Be honest – This is a safe space for you to be honest, so you can truly address your inner thoughts and emotions. Don’t beat yourself up but pace yourself and allow yourself to be truthful.
- Write as fast as you can – Don’t give yourself too much time to ponder. If you are having writer’s block, just do a brain dump or use journal prompts to get you inspired.
- Keep your journal private – Keep your journal and its contents private, not even your best friend should see it!
- Don’t force yourself to write about traumatic or negative events – Trauma is something that everyone should deal with at some stage. But if you don’t feel mentally ready and you know writing about it could put you in a negative headspace, leave it be. You’ll know when you’re ready to address it.
- Reflect on what you have written – Once you have expressed your thoughts on paper, sit back and take time to reflect on what you have expressed. This will allow you to assess your thoughts, mood and help you understand and create steps to deal with things.
- Don’t feel pressured to write in a particular way – Write in a way that comes most naturally. Whether is using slang or curse words. It’s entirely up to you.
- Date every entry – Keeping things in order can help you hold yourself accountable when you have missed more days than you thought. But it’s also an excellent way to go back and reflect on how far you have come.
- Set the mood – Meditate, light some candles, put on some soft music. Or do whatever will make you feel most relaxed and at ease to write.
- Create actionable steps – Reflect upon what you write and create actionable steps to help you move forward. For example, if you realise you have been procrastinating, create some steps to help you get out of that habit. You won’t need to have a plan of action every time you write. But if you come across something you can tackle with a plan, then why not try it. It will help you in the long run.
THE W. R. I. T. E METHOD
Another way to get the most out of journaling for anxiety and depression is using the W.R.I.T. E method, which you can find on the Centre for Journal Therapy website. It is five easy steps using the acronym WRITE.
W – What do you want to write about? What is happening in your life? How does it make you feel?
R – Reflect – Reflect on what you have written about.
I – Investigate – Investigate your emotions and thoughts. Write them down.
T – Time yourself – Decide how long you would like to write, e.g. 15 minutes and set an alarm for that period. Write your start and end time at the top of your page.
E – Exit – Read over what you have written, reflect on it in two sentences – “After reading this I have realised…” and follow up with any actionable steps.
Using these tips will help you commit to writing to be beneficial for your growth.
MY JOURNALING ROUTINE
At the moment, I have three journals. A mini notepad that I use if I am traveling, a journal I keep beside my bed, and a gratitude journal.
I journal an hour before I go to bed, but before getting my thoughts out, I have to feel at ease. So, I meditate for ten minutes to relax my mind, I also have mood lighting and light some candles to help me further relax.
I set aside 30 minutes to write and reflect upon my day and if I’m not sure what to write about; I use journal prompts to help get me going.
JOURNALLING FOR ANXIETY AND DEPRESSION – 35 JOURNAL PROMPTS
- What is your biggest accomplishment and why?
- Write a list of 10 things you love most about yourself.
- When was the last time you were happy and explain why?
- Write things that are a trigger for your anxiety, and what you can do to combat them.
- How would you like your life to look in the next 5, 10, 15, 20 years?
- What song makes you feel happy when you are having a terrible day?
- Write one thing that made you happy today and why.
- Describe one instance where you made a poor decision. What did you learn, and how can you not make the same mistake?
- Write one thing you are looking for to this week and explain why.
- What are 5 things you wish people knew about you?
- Write 10 things you are thankful for.
- Describe a tough situation you have been in. How did it make you feel, how did you handle it, and what did you learn from the experience?
- List things that are holding you back from achieving your goals, needs, and wants. Now brainstorm what you can do to get over these obstacles.
- What are your best qualities?
- This week I am looking forward to —- because …
- What is the biggest lesson you learned from this week?
- What did you enjoy most about today?
- How would life be if you didn’t have depression or anxiety?
- Name 5-10 things you can do to take better care of yourself.
- How would you describe yourself to someone who has never met you?
- The lessons I have learned from depression are…
- What are 5 things you could do to take care of your mental health?
- Name 10 things that always make you feel better, even on a bad day.
- When things get tough, I always want to remember …
- Describe your perfect day. What would you do and who would you spend it with?
- Name 3 things you did well today.
- Create a list of things you would like to accomplish or experience this year.
- What inspires you ?
- Write a letter to your younger self.
- How would you like to feel tomorrow? What can you do today to help you feel that way?
- Pick 2 positive words you would like to focus on this week. Brainstorm things you can do to experience those feelings.
- Describe a time when you helped someone. How did it make you feel? How did it make them feel?
- Who inspires you the most and why?
- What is your plan for this year? Plan out what you need to do to reach your goals.
- Write a letter to someone who has mistreated you. Explain what they did wrong, how it made you feel, then forgive them and let it go.
Bullet Journals have become such a trend as they are a creative way to get your thoughts out. Use as much colour, Washi tape, and drawings as you like.
Make your journaling process a little more fun and creative. Check out this one, which has become one of the most popular choices by bullet journal enthusiasts. It comes in a range of colours and sizes.
52 Lists for Happiness is a journal created by Moorea Seal to help you discover your happiness, rebalance, and enjoy life. It includes 52 list prompts to encourage you to invest in yourself and do exactly what makes you happy.
The 6-minute Diary focuses on doing less to accomplish more. Using the latest research from psychology and neuroscience, it focuses on writing for just 3 minutes in the morning and 3 minutes in the evening, focusing on what matters most.
It includes 220 pages of space for gratitude, mindfulness, positivity, productivity and personal growth.
Mynd Map is a 12-week mindfulness, goal planning, and gratitude journal. It focuses on 6 themes to help you reflect on areas of your life that may usually go unnoticed.
Some techniques Mynd Map uses are the wheel of life, affirmations, and vision boarding, and it guides you through each technique step-by-step.
If you just want a good old notebook without all the extra fuss, you can’t go wrong with a simple notebook. Here are a few options.
Hopefully, you found these prompts helpful. Whether you are struggling with your mental health or just need to get to know yourself better.
Journaling for anxiety and depression is an amazing way to be vulnerable, open and honest with no fear of judgment or repercussions.
Express how you really feel, take control of your emotions and create steps to put your best foot forward in all aspects of your life.
Committing to the practice of journaling will allow you to reap the benefits. Using journal prompts is a great way to help you commit, stay motivated, and incorporate it into your daily routine.
Try it and see how it makes you feel.
I have created a PDF version of the journal prompts that you can easily download and print for later.
Did you find these prompts useful? Do you use journal prompts or is this a first? Let me know.