Journaling for Mental Health & Personal Growth

Journaling for mental health & personal growth is something that holds amazing benefits and can help improve someone's sense of happiness and wellbeing.

As a therapist myself, it's something I've always encouraged my clients to try if they haven't before. But journaling isn't just about processing difficult emotions – it's something you can do to reflect and review on day to day life.

If you're travelling you may want to keep a journal to remind yourself of moments experienced. Or if you're a student, a journal may be something you need to keep as you're completing your research.

Whatever you use journaling for, it allows you to process thoughts, feelings and experiences. For mental health journaling, it can help to free your mind of cluttered and unhelpful thinking patterns.

As a bonus, at the end of this post I've included 75 guided prompts that you can use to kick start or refocus your journaling practice.

*Affiliate Disclosure: Some links in this post may contain affiliate links. If you purchase something via this link then I may receive a small commission. This doesn't affect the price you pay for the product.

If you have any questions, reach out for a chat [email protected] or check out my other blogs

What is Journaling?

Journaling for mental health & wellbeing is the act of writing (or typing) your thoughts and feelings down to help you process and reflect upon experiences or difficulties.

If you're working through some difficulties, or working with a therapist, you may use your journal to process the things you discussed during your session.

It's a great tool to help you improve your mental health and lessen the risk of overwhelm with a head full of thoughts, worries and ideas.

Benefits of Journaling For Mental Health

There are lots of benefits of journaling including:

  • Improve gratitude & feeling of happiness
  • Monitor progress towards a project / self development
  • Track symptoms
  • Declutter your mind (brain dumping)
  • Problem solving
  • Process feelings
  • Process unhelpful thinking patterns
  • Relaxation & stress reduction
  • Explore triggers for anxiety / stress / worry
  • Become more self aware
  • Encourage positive self talk
  • Memorise experiences & events
  • Support a positive daily routine
  • Improve sleep as part of an evening routine

Journaling for mental health is a free tool that anyone can use to support or improve their wellbeing and happiness.

It's beneficial for anyone, even if you don't experience mental health difficulties. It's a brilliant tool that you can use to maintain positive mental health, encouraging gratitude and healthy daily routines.

When you regularly reflect and process thoughts, feelings and triggers, you become more self aware which makes it easier to manage reactions to things or situations.

By understanding why something triggers a response or a reaction, you can work on the underlying issue or worry.

But it's also important to be aware that this kind of introspection can lead to feeling a little unsettled or upset as you explore these things. If you're working with a therapist or coach, talk to them about anything your journaling brings up.

If you're not working with anyone, be sure to include some self care practices, and possibly add some lighter journaling techniques like gratitude journaling. Please do seek support if needed.

Types of Journaling

Guided Journaling

Guided journaling is when you have prompts to help guide your writing. It's a great way to help focus your thoughts as you write. See below for a collection of journaling for mental health prompts. Plus you can take a look at some of the journals I have created

Guided journaling is a great way to have some structure to your writing. If you're looking to focus on a specific area, guided journaling can help give some direction to your thoughts.

If you're new to journaling, guided journaling can be a great way to build a journaling habit.

Free Flow Journaling

Free flow journaling is the opposite to guided journaling because there aren't any prompts for you base your writing from. Free flow writing is a great way to just empty your mind and without limits, explore your thoughts. There are a couple of ways you can approach this, either writing freely for a specific length of time, or for as long as you want to. Setting the scene, being comfortable, lighting a candle and listening to meditation music can all help you to feel relaxed enough to just let go on the paper.

With free flow writing, try to not judge what is being written. Just allow the thoughts to come into your consciousness and write them down. Don't check for spelling or grammatical errors – and don't worry about making it make sense. It's just about transferring from sub conscious to conscious and onto paper.

I love free flow journaling when I feel stuck or my mood is low and I'm unsure why. I usually set myself 15 minutes and start writing. How you start can vary. It may be a question “Why am I feeling this way?” and that's enough for the thoughts to tumble out of me.

Once you finish writing you can read back through and see where your thoughts have taken you, but for me it's often associated with a feeling. A sense of calm or clarity which has felt natural and not forced.

Gratitude Journaling

Gratitude journaling is a brilliant daily journaling technique to help improve your happiness and focus on the positive things you already have in your life and experience each day.

If you struggle with confidence or anxious thinking, gratitude journaling helps you learn to appreciate yourself and your life just as it is.

When you're busy working towards goals it can be easy to lose sight of all of the good things and focus only on what you haven't already got or achieved yet. Gratitude journaling can bring some much needed perspective.

Take a look at the gratitude journal I created, it's a 12-week daily (morning and evening) guided journal with prompts.

Therapeutic Journaling

Therapeutic journaling may be something that you do whilst you're in therapy, although being in therapy isn't essential.

It's a way of journaling where you're focusing on patterns of feelings, behaviours, triggers and responses.

I found it useful when I was in training to keep a therapeutic journal due to the amount of self reflection needed. It helped me to recognise when I felt triggered by certain behaviours, people or situations.

Sometimes I would share my reflections with my therapist if it felt important, but most of the time I used it as my own personal space where I could make sense of the things I was feeling.

Academic Journaling

Academic journaling is something that you'll be familiar with if you're a student or you undertake research.

Academic journaling is a way for you to jot your ideas down so that you don't get overwhelmed with too much information, or lose track of your progress and next steps.

If my students are feeling stuck I often recommend starting a journal and keeping it with them at all times to write things as they arise. It's especially useful to keep beside your bed at night. I found this helped me wind down and switch off enough to actually get some sleep!

It became my night time brain dump and I highly recommend it!

Depending on the research you're doing, an academic journal may be a requirement of your work. For my MA I carried out a heuristic study, and part of this was to reflect on my own experiences, thoughts and feelings around the subject.

It not only helped me in terms of my processes, but it helped me monitor the progress I made, and capture those moments of inspiration. I found it helped me manage overwhelm and remain clear in the direction I was going.

Creative Journaling

Creative journaling is what it says on the tin! Art journaling, cutting and sticking into a journal. Drawing or colouring, there's so many things you can choose to do.

It can be written or creative, it's completely up to you and how oyu want to express yourself.

You don't need to be ‘good' at art to start a creative journal because it's not about the image or creation, it's about what's coming up for you as you create. The processes and the exploration of your thoughts and feelings.

Daily Journaling (morning / evening)

Journaling for mental health and wellness doesn't have to be complex or take lots of your time.

You can journal and reflect on your thoughts and feelings in as little as a single word!

Daily journaling is a great way to introduce positive habits and set yourself up for the day.

I love the journals that have morning and evening prompts. These usually have space to set your intentions for the day, assess how you're feeling and what you're grateful for.

The evening reflections usually ask you to rate an aspect of your day – for example your overall mood level. As well as things that felt good or how you handled a difficult situation.

I like the fact that you can choose how you're going to approach your day – a great way to get your mindset focused, and then at the end of the day you can release anything that you've carried through from the day.

How to Start Journaling

Don't overthink it, grab a journal, notebook or digital app and start writing!

Decide how often you want to write, and if your journaling is for a specific reason.

Choose the format you want to use – do you prefer prompts or are you going to use free flow or creative journaling?

Let go of judgements, if you're journaling for mental health, you may experience self criticism or feel self conscious. Give yourself permission to be free with your journaling – nobody is going to read it but you, and your thoughts and feelings are all valid.

Choose a time when you'll sit down to journal. It may be included as part of your morning or evening routine. Light a candle, or pop some relaxing music on.

If you don't have lots of time, or you don't want to over-plan when you write, just think about where you can keep your journal so that it's close at hand, and have your prompts ready if your journal isn't already guided.

To get started, just begin by writing down a few things that happened today. Or, take a moment to connect to your body and your emotions and write down your observations.

Trust and just allow yourself to write – it's amazing how the words begin to tumble out.

If you're stuck, opt for prompts and set yourself a time limit of a few minutes. Take some calming breaths and let go of any beliefs you have around “doing it right”.

75 Journal Prompts for Mental Health & Personal Growth

  1. What brings you the most enjoyment in life & how can you begin to do more of these things?
  2. How do changes in your life make you feel & what do you currently do to manage these changes?
  3. When was the last time you felt completely seen as who you really are?
  4. What tends to help you feel calmer when you're facing something challenging or experiencing anxiety?
  5. What do you appreciate the most about your closest friend and why are these values or traits important to you?
  6. What are you most anxious or uncertain about at the moment? Where do you think it's coming from, and how are you currently managing these feelings?
  7. If you felt confident in all areas of your life & in yourself, what things would you do or say?
  8. What are your favourite memories (as a child or adult) and why are they your favourite?
  9. What do you find most challenging in your day to day life, and describe what makes it difficult for you.
  10. Describe a time where you achieved something that you didn't think was possible.
  11. What are your biggest worries? How likely is it that these worries will happen?
  12. Where do you feel the most calm and at peace? Describe the space, the sounds, smells and feeling when you're there.
  13. List 5 things you are grateful for today
  14. What do you like most about yourself and why?
  15. When your mood is low, what are the common feelings you experience?
  16. What motivates you the most? How can this help you improve your life now?
  17. What's your favourite part of the day & why?
  18. What piece of advice would you give to your younger self & why is this important?
  19. Write about a time you achieved something that made you proud?
  20. Write a letter describing your hopes and dreams and address it to your future self.
  21. How can you add more self care into your life?
  22. Describe an activity or craft that you'd like to make a hobby. What do you need to do to make this a reality?
  23. Write down a limiting belief that you have. How could you challenge this belief?
  24. How do you speak to yourself? Could you show yourself more kindness?
  25. What qualities do you have and which is your favourite?
  26. What do you need to forgive yourself for? Is there a mistake or regret that you're still holding on to? How can you move on from this?
  27. How can you bring more fun into your life?
  28. Think of one of your limiting beliefs, what evidence do you have to prove it isn't true?
  29. Describe your favourite kind of day
  30. Describe the last time you faced something difficult. How did you get through it?
  31. What instantly puts you in a positive or good mood? Describe it.
  32. What is your most frequent positive thought? How can you use this to increase your confidence and lessen your worries?
  33. What is really holding you back right now?
  34. If your friend was facing a similar situation, what advice would you give to them?
  35. What is the bravest thing you've done? How did you feel afterwards?
  36. When you feel overly worried or anxious, what are you usually thinking about or experiencing?
  37. How do you feel physically when you're worried or anxious?
  38. What areas in your life are you neglecting? What can you do to change this?
  39. How much time do you spend on social media. How do you feel about this and how can you change things if it's too much?
  40. When was the last time you compared yourself to someone else? What was the end result? How did it make you feel?
  41. If it was guaranteed that you wouldn't fail, what dream / goal would you aim for?
  42. How would a friend describe you?
  43. What do you wish you were better at? Why?
  44. What are the values that are important to you?
  45. How realistic is your current worry / fear? ow likely is it that it will happen?
  46. When do you feel the most settled and calm?
  47. What activities energise you?
  48. What would you love people to understand about you?
  49. How comfortable are you with being fully you? What parts of yourself do you hold back and why do you think this is?
  50. What is your favourite quote or saying? Why does this inspire you?
  51. What frustrates you the most and why do you think this is?
  52. What inspires you?
  53. How do you feel physically when you're stressed or upset?
  54. How do you usually pick yourself up when you've faced something difficult?
  55. How would you describe yourself?
  56. What could you do to simplify your life right now?
  57. If you could have an extra hour in the day, how would you spend it?
  58. What would you say is your biggest insecurity? How does this impact you?
  59. After a long day, what's your favourite thing to do? Describe the feelings associated with it?
  60. What would you like to be remembered for?
  61. What makes you feel happy and why?
  62. Are you introverted or extroverted? How does this show up day to day?
  63. What is something you envy in someone and why is this?
  64. What advice would you give to your 16 year old self?
  65. If you could change something in your life right now, what would it be and how would it make a difference?
  66. What brings you the most joy?
  67. How are your boundaries? Do you need to make some changes?
  68. What is the best way to protect your energy?
  69. What could you start doing today to help improve your physical and mental health?
  70. How confident are you feeling right now? What can you do to improve this / or how did you begin to feel this confident?
  71. What makes you valuable as a person? Describe at least 5 positive things that about you that demonstrates your value.
  72. Think about how you talk to yourself when you're struggling. Is the inner dialogue helpful or unhelpful? What needs to change if unhelpful?
  73. If a friend came to you for advice on how to be kinder to themselves, what would you say?
  74. Is there something that's holding you back from working towards a goal? If yes, imagine and then describe how you will feel once you make a start.
  75. Think about a time you put off doing something that you didn't want to do. Describe how it felt whenever you thought about it, then how you felt once you did it. How can you apply this lesson in your life today?

If you want to download these prompts, see below!

Tools Resources & Support

Below are some of the resources I have for journaling:

Gratitude Journal

Therapy Journal

Anxiety Journal

Self Care Journal Prompts

75 journaling for mental health prompts

A therapist's view on journaling

Final Thoughts

Journaling is a brilliant tool that anyone can do. There are many different types of journaling, but the one important thing to remember, is that there's no right way to do this!

Do what feels good and what feels comfortable. If you want to record voice notes – do it! If you prefer to buy a beautiful notebook or journal – do it!

The most important thing is to just start. If you're working alongside a therapist, talk to them about it and ask any questions you may have. If this is something you're working on yourself, be sure to approach it with a zero judgement attitude.

We are usually our own biggest critic, so make an agreement to lay off yourself. If you feel a bit embarrassed about it – own it. It's okay. new things often feel uncomfortable. Show yourself kindness and compassion, and use journaling to support your healing or your personal growth.

*Just to add, if you find that journaling brings up a lot of difficult feelings and emotions and you're finding it upsetting. Please reach out to someone, this isn't a replacement for therapy.

I find some self care helps me switch off and process things that have come up. I remove pressure and allow myself to sit with it when I'm particularly affected by my journaling.

Not everyone will be deeply affected – so if you're wondering why it's not – don't! Journaling is personal and will depend on what you're focusing on and using journaling for.

I would love to know how journaling for mental health has helped you, and please share what your favourite journaling prompts are.

If this post helped or you enjoyed reading it, please share one of the images below as it really helps my blog – Thank You!

A faded image of an open journal with glasses and a mobile on it. The text 75 Journal prompts to boost your mental health at the bottom
An image of green leaves. The text List 5 things that you are grateful for underneath the image.
A book with glasses and black mug on a soft cover. The text What is really holding you back? is below

Meet Lynsey

Lynsey Wall, Coach & Mentor at Coach Writes. About me - A headshot of Lynsey smiling. Wearing a black t-shirt, blue framed glasses. Office walls behind her.

Hey there! I'm Lynsey, a coach, counsellor, and mentor for low energy, introverted or low confident female coaches & small business owners. With over 5 years’ experience of running businesses, and over a decade as a tutor and trainer, I've learned the value of effective time management that energises you through working with your energy.

I've lived with chronic illness – ME/CFS since 2011 and since then I re-trained as a counsellor, and achieved a distinction for my MA in Counselling and Psychotherapy Practice; all while running 4 businesses! I want that for you as well & it is possible with the right support and pathway to success.

Improving your mindset, finding acceptance and developing a solution-focused approach to achieving your goals is my passion. Blending mental health support where needed, as well as a supportive space and methods to manage your work more effectively.

If you'd like to know more about working with me, you can email [email protected] or find me on socials (links in the menu)

Have you seen my online store Your Coach Tools? Find DFY templates & more!

Similar Posts