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Mental illness sucks. Depression, anxiety, OCD, panic attacks, and eating disorders can be crippling. Whether diagnosed or not, we all deal with some degree of mental health issue from time to time.

You’re not alone.

You can make progress.

And journaling is one of the best ways to do so.

Therapy can work wonders, but you probably can’t afford to see a professional therapist every day, right? Luckily you can grab a pen and a journal in between sessions. It’s accessible, easy, and low risk.

Simply getting your thoughts down on paper can be a relief. Journaling can help you identify hidden issues, suppressed thoughts, and work through your pain. 

But it’s tough to get started, right? A blank canvas can be terrifying. So we’ve put together forty-six mental health journal prompts to help you get started. 

You can start with number one and spend forty-six days with these. Or you can pick and choose. You can do some of these daily or weekly – it’s entirely up to you.

Guided Journals for Mental Health

But first – if you’d prefer to ditch the blank journal all together, here are some of our top picks for guided journals with prompts baked right in there:

  1. 5 Minute Journal – The 5 Minute Journal is a high quality and well-structured journal. It’s focused on morning and evening reflections where you will express gratitude and affirmations. It’s one of the best selling journals on the planet for a reason.
  2. One Line a Day – This is a great guided journal for beginners. You write one line a day, each day, for five years. It eventually becomes a beautiful reflection over the course of five years. Receive therapy in the form of journaling some each day, and then after five years you have a book full of growth and maturity to look back on.
  3. Present, Not Perfect – This is a beautifully illustrated guided journal that helps you slow down and enjoy life rather than pushing for perfection. Everyday is full of different prompts to help you find balance and alleviate stress.

journal prompts for mental health

46 Journal Prompts for Mental Health

As mentioned, these prompts are intended to help you over the hump of journaling block. If in the middle of tackling one of these mental health prompts you feel the need to change direction, you have our blessing.

The idea is that you have an easy, accessible starting point. Whatever happens after that is up to you. Let your thoughts flow freely from brain to pen to journal.

Let these serve as starting blocks and helpful constraints. But break out of them and chart your own path when necessary.

READ  How to Start and Keep a Sleep Journal: A Guide to Sleep Diaries

Some Lighter Mental Health Journal Prompts

These may be a good place to start if you’re new to journaling. It can be hard to dig deep within the confines of a journal, so don’t be afraid to start slow. Mental health is a journey.

  1. Write down 3 things you’re grateful for. Don’t make it complicated – the first three that come to mind.
  2. Write about your day so far (if in the evening). What were your favorite moments? Who did you spend time with? What did you learn?
  3. Write about what your upcoming day (if in the morning). What are your plans? Who will you see? What are you looking forward to?
  4. What are your goals for the upcoming week, month, or season? They don’t have to be specific (or SMART), just journal some about your current ambitions.
  5. Who are some of your closest friends right now? Who in your life understands you, supports you, and encourages you?
  6. When was the last time you laughed really hard? Like cackling can’t-control-yourself laughter… What were you laughing at and who were you with?
  7. What is your idea of a perfect day? Describe it in detail. Who are you with? What are you doing? Where are you?
  8. Describe how you feel physically right now. What hurts, aches, and pains do you have? What feels good? 
  9. What are your three favorite books? When did you read them? What did you learn from them? 
  10. What songs have had the biggest impact on you? Not necessarily your favorites, but are there any that speak to you? Have any songs changed your perspective on something?
  11. What movies have had the biggest impact on you? Same as above, not your favorites per se, but which have moved you?
  12. When was the last time you did something for someone else, with no other agenda other than to help? What did you do? Who did you help?
  13. If you could be anywhere in the world right now, where would it be? Why? 
  14. What items or objects bring you the most comfort? What about them makes you feel at ease?
  15. What’s the most embarrassing thing to ever happen to you? Why was it so embarrassing?
  16. What are your favorite things about yourself? What traits and attributes do you appreciate the most?
  17. What quotes inspire you on difficult days? Why are they inspirational or comforting?
  18. What are three or four of your biggest bucket list items? What excites you the most about each?

Beneath the Surface Journal Prompts

Once you’re comfortable writing your thoughts and feelings in a journal, it’s time to move on and get below the surface. These prompts will help you evaluate your mental health and make progress.

  1. How do you feel right now? What emotions do you have? Why do you think you’re feeling that way? (Once you have the hang of journaling, you should start every journal session with this question.)
  2. What are your coping mechanisms? When your mental health is at a low – you’re feeling depressed, anxious, or panicked – how do you cope? What do you turn to? How do you behave?
  3. Write about the three things you are most proud of. Why are you proud of these things? 
  4. What does self-care mean to you? Describe the last time you really cared for yourself.
  5. How have you changed in the last five years? How have you grown? What areas of your life haven’t changed at all?
  6. How would you describe yourself? This is a more open-ended prompt, take it and run with it without any further constraints. Pay attention to what exactly you’re describing, honing in on, or avoiding.
  7. Write a letter to yourself as a child. What would you tell yourself about life? What would you tell yourself to avoid or to lean into?
  8. Write a letter to your future self. What do you hope life will be like then? What would your present self tell your future self?
  9. When times are difficult, what do you try to remember? What thoughts, memories, or mental models help you most in times of stress, anxiety, and depression?
  10. Write a letter to yourself on your worst day. When your mental health is at its all-time lowest, what would you tell yourself?
  11. What are three things that make you angry? What frustrates or annoys you more than anything else?
  12. What, if anything, do you regret? Why do you regret it? Has any good come from it?
  13. When was the last time you cried? What made you cry? How do you feel about this being the last situation in which you cried?
  14. Write a poem. It doesn’t have to be world-class, just pick a theme and try to write a poem around it. 
  15. What does love mean to you? Have you loved someone? Have you been loved? 
  16. What have your mental health issues or mental illnesses taught you? What have you learned about the world? What have they taught you about yourself?
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Deep-End Mental Health Journal Prompts

These prompts could help you make serious progress in the area of mental health. Having said that, we aren’t therapists here, and no journal session should ever replace clinical help. 

But dive into these, be honest with yourself, and dig deep.

  1. What do you believe about God? Check out Know Mercy if you’re looking for some Bible resources.
  2. Write a letter to the person who has hurt you or most negatively impacted your life. You don’t have to deliver it, but get it out. What will you say to them? 
  3. What moment or moments of your life perfectly describe your mental health issue(s)? What happened? 
  4. What’s your least favorite thing about yourself? Would you change it if you could? Is there any chance it’s a strength or gift in disguise? Why?
  5. What secrets are you keeping? Why are you keeping them and how do you feel like they might be affecting your mental health?
  6. If you struggle with an eating disorder of any kind, write a letter to your body. What would you say to it? 
  7. What do you think is the worst thing you’ve ever done? Does it have any effect on you today? 
  8. What’s the biggest breakthrough moment or realization you’ve ever had? What was powerful about it? 
  9. Write a letter to your parents. You don’t have to deliver it, just write it. 
  10. Write about your most difficult memory. Has this memory shaped you? Should it continue shaping you? Have you ever told anyone about it?
  11. In six months, describe your life with your mental illness or mental health struggles completely under control. Don’t think about whether or not that’s a possibility, just assume it is. What does your life look like?
  12. Describe in detail your biggest triggers. What do they look like? What are your immediate coping mechanisms for each?
  13. If you had no absolutely no fear in life, what would you do tomorrow? What’s preventing you from doing it today?
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Check out our master list of journal prompts.

Make Progress Through Journaling

The journey to mental health is long and winding. Dealing with mental illness can take many different approaches – therapy, friendships, and positive coping mechanisms. Journaling is just one approach to help.

If you’re a man and looking to get into journaling, but not sure where to start, check out our favorite journals for men.

We hope that these prompts are helpful, but we also want to point out that there’s no substitute for friendships, community, and therapy. We need other people. And at time we need professional people in our corner, too. Journaling is a fantastic tool and resource, but it may or may not be sufficient.

We hope these prompts help you make progress on your journey. You’re not alone.

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