Journal prompts are a wonderful way to explore feelings of anxiety and depression in a safe personal space.
Often, the reasons behind our emotions and thought patterns lay hidden in our subconscious. We don’t always understand why we feel how we do. Anxiety and depression can be confusing and mysterious in nature. To uncover the root causes of anxiety and depression, journal writing can be highly effective.
To begin to heal anxiety and depression, we need to be able to understand ourselves better and love ourselves more. Deep self-reflection, compassion, and self-love are needed to improve our mental health. Journaling can help empower and inspire positive actions for overall wellness.
Journal writing is one of the most accessible, basic ways to practice self-care when you are depressed or anxious. Journal writing can be done virtually anywhere, at any time. And journal prompts can help get your writing flowing.
(Free PDF printable worksheet: journal prompts for anxiety and depression- included in this post.)
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What to know before you begin journaling for anxiety and depression
Before beginning these journal prompts for anxiety and depression, know that working on your own personal growth and development, including improving your mental health, is a brave and beautiful thing.
Give yourself a big hug and affirm that you do have the power to heal. You can learn and grow and evolve. You can bring yourself into balance and enjoy happiness and ease. Journal writing is just one (of many) tools to help you.
If you need professional help, there is no shame in getting it. It’s best to take every measure you can to heal yourself, so please talk with your doctor.
Almost half of all people diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with anxiety. The two illnesses often go hand in hand. They are the most common mental illnesses in the United States. You are not alone.
Both anxiety and depression can be devastating, but they are also treatable illnesses. Please take every self-care measure you can to empower yourself in your healing.
How can journal prompts improve your mental health?
Journal prompts are helpful when you can’t quite figure out what is bothering you. Journal prompts can lead you down pathways in your mind you hadn’t thought to explore. They can trigger you to remember stuff. They can give you that little push to know what to write about in the first place.
Journal writing has helped me personally through my entire life cope with many difficult situations. It has been my go-to way to deal with my own anxiety and depression since I was very young. When I write journal prompts for others and share in this blog, know that these are questions I would, and have, asked myself.
Journaling can improve mental health in many ways:
Journaling can give you clarity
Journaling can help you understand your own thoughts and emotions more clearly. And allow you to investigate into where your thoughts and feelings come from. Journaling helps to shed light on your triggers, unconscious thought patterns, and more.
Journaling can also help to identify what you want out of life. For example, what kind of partner, job, or lifestyle you want. Journaling is a way to get to know yourself better.
Clear your mind
Journal writing helps with clearing and releasing what is inside you. Journaling can be a way of “braindumping” all of your thoughts and feelings. By emptying your mind onto paper, you are better able to focus and think clearly. You can untangle your emotions.
Help you to see a bigger picture
At times, journal writing can help you see the bigger picture of your life. When you write about your anxiety and depression, you may be able to identify thought or behavior patterns. Or put together pieces of the past. You can get a birds-eye look at things, which can help you understand yourself and your life better.
Journal writing can help reduce stress and calm you. Even the texture of the paper, the silky feel of the pen ink can calm. Journaling can be a leisurely, relaxing activity and quite positive for mental health.
Puts things in perspective
Journaling helps you see things in perspective. Especially if you read back over your writing from the past. Journal writing is a good way to reflect and think deeply. You may discover a different way of seeing things, gain more empathy, or understand another person better.
Help you slow down
Journaling is calming because it helps you slow down and take a minute for yourself. It’s a form of meditation, a way to ground and center yourself. It’s easy to feel frazzled and hurried. Journaling is a remedy.
Is an act of self-care
Journaling is an affirmation to yourself that you want to help yourself. It’s an act of self-care. Knowing you’re worth the effort, knowing it’s worth it to try to help yourself through writing can boost self-esteem and self-worth.
Journal writing can help better your relationships with others in many ways.
Journaling can improve your mood by reducing stress, improving self-esteem, and inspiring you in different ways.
When you feel better, you can enjoy relationships more fully. You can be more present, be a better friend, and enjoy a deeper connection to others.
Journal writing may also allow you to understand other people better or be more empathetic. After all, many others struggle with their mental health as well. And no one is perfect.
Boost your creativity
Journaling is a wonderful way to boost creativity. No matter what or how you write, you are creating words on a page. Those words are full of possibility; they can turn into a poem, a memoir, or anything else you can imagine. Your writing is powerful and brimming with potential.
Can motivate and inspire you
Journaling helps you see what’s possible. It can get you excited for the future and motivated to reach your goals.
Can help boost productivity
Journaling can help with planning, goal setting, and more. But please, don’t let journaling be one more thing on your to-do list. Don’t let it stress you out. Journaling is a way to improve mental health, not feel more stressed. More on that in a few minutes.
How to get the most benefit out of journaling
1. Don’t hold back.
Write what is in your heart and mind as accurately as possible. Unfilter yourself.
2. Write for you.
Write for yourself and forget the outside world. You are not aiming to please, and you don’t need to be polite. Write in the style that you like. This could be stream of consciousness, bullet-point lists, or any way in between.
3. Write often.
Write as often as you can to improve your mental health. Daily if possible. Even if just for a few minutes to track your mood, braindump, or recount the day.
4. Make journaling your go-to self-care act.
Reach for your journal first before other, less healthy ways of coping. I personally tend to reach for the chocolate chips, but I know journaling works better for my mental health. So I have to gently remind myself.
5. Make journaling accessible.
Keep your journal nearby, always. Have a go-to place to write. Such as a special chair or your bed. And always have an extra blank journal.
6. Re-read your old entries.
Take note of how far you’ve come. You probably accomplish more than you think. But if not, don’t let that bring you down.
Re-reading old journals from years past has shown me something of importance I want to share with you: Life goals really do take your whole life. There are a core number of things I’ve been trying to improve for years and I’m just not there yet. That’s ok, and that’s why we call them life goals.
Writing tips when using journal prompts
- You don’t need to write out every single journal prompt. In fact, it’s probably better to choose one- a few at a time.
- Chose the journal prompts most relevant to you and start there. You can write for a set amount of time, or just let it flow. You can spend 2 minutes writing or 2 hours.
- Don’t worry about mistakes or spelling.
- Try stream of consciousness writing- it’s a great way to brain dump.
- Try bullet point lists- get to the essence of matters fast.
- Scribble, doodle, and draw if you want.
- Date your pages… or not!
- Write in an organized fashion, from one page to the next… or not!
- If journal writing just isn’t for you and you’d rather paint, draw, play guitar, or destress in some other healthy way, then take a journaling break and don’t feel bad about it. Not everyone enjoys writing. Here are some more ideas that may you:
What to watch out for when using journal prompts for mental health
First, don’t let journaling be stressful. That is so important.
Journal prompts are a tool to make you feel better, not worse. Journaling should not be another thing on your to-do list, a goal to achieve, or something that stresses you out.
You may feel resistance to writing, resistance to tackling what’s going on inside of you through writing, and that is normal to some extent. Just go easy on yourself and don’t push yourself too hard unless you want to.
The goal is to lessen your anxiety and depression, not increase it by forcing yourself to tackle issues you’re not ready to deal with yet.
Journal prompts can be triggering for some people. So be mindful. Hopefully, they are more helpful than not. But everyone is different.
And lastly, feel free to stray off topic and write in whatever direction your thoughts and feelings take you. Never worry that you’re “doing it wrong.” Any journaling can be beneficial for your mental health. No matter if you’re keeping it light and easy by writing about something pleasant or doing a big “purge” that triggers a waterfall of emotion. And no matter if you write ineligibly, or have perfect penmanship. There are no rules for journaling or for how to use journal prompts.
Alright, here we go. Please feel free to download and print these anxiety and depression journal prompts. The link is at the end of the journal prompts list.
50 Journal Prompts for Anxiety and Depression
- What are the top 5-10 stressors causing you anxiety and depression?
- For each stressor, write out some words associated with the feelings of anxiety and depression. Is fear, shame, guilt, or other emotions hiding behind the anxiety or depression?
- When did your anxiety and depression begin? How far back can you trace these feelings?
- How did your upbringing affect your mental health?
- Describe how your family, friends, and social environment affects your mental health.
- How does your job affect your mental health?
- Note any changes can you make to improve your work environment, social circle, and create a more positive support network.
- What can you give to others?
- How can you improve your physical health to feel better? For example: sleep more, cut back on alcohol, eat more organic greens.
- What do you love about yourself the most?
- Describe some skills you have or would like to develop.
- Journal some actions would help boost your self-esteem? Would improving self-esteem help your anxiety and depression?
- In what ways do you need to forgive yourself?
- Who has hurt you that you need to forgive or let go of the pain they have caused you?
- How does your spirituality affect your mental health? What is your belief system like and how does it help you?
- Write down all that you are grateful for.
- What changes do you know you need to make, and which are most challenging?
- Are you too hard on yourself? Or too lackadaisical?
- List 10 places you can pull strength from. For example: nature, art, reading, God, friendships, etc.
- What are your dominant thought patterns like? What phrases and self-talk occupy your mind, and where do they originate?
- Can you dispute your negative thoughts, and find proof they may not be true? Try refuting your negative beliefs with as much critical thinking as possible in your journal.
- What secrets do you hold? How can you heal from them? For example, can you talk about them with a friend or therapist? Can you write or sing about them?
- What would you tell your younger self if you could go back in time?
- Now imagine you are forward in time. What would your future, happy and balanced self say to you?
- What physical activities help release your depression and anxiety? Does walking, swimming, or meditating help you feel better? What new physical activities can you try?
- How do you view yourself? How do you view others and the world? Are you optimistic or pessimistic?
- Journal what your best life looks like. What do you think is possible for yourself?
- Can you see beyond your best life into an even better future? Can you dream even bigger, and how does dreaming big make you feel?
- What matters most to you in life? Do you think you have your priorities straight?
- How can you use the following to improve your life: Family, friends, nature, art, reading, technology, deep thinking, helping others, speaking truthfully, being kind, self- love, empathy, open-mindedness, peacefulness, curiosity, quiet, spirituality.
- What small changes can you make to your daily routine to improve it? What commitments can you make to care for yourself?
- Describe the happiest moments of your life. Who was there? Were you laughing? Relaxing quietly? Dancing?
- What qualities in other people do you love? Can you see these qualities as a reflection of you?
- And what qualities do you dislike?
- List some new positive self-talk to try when you’re feeling down.
- What do you think your anxiety and depression is teaching you?
- Where is the silver lining within the hard lessons you’ve learned?
- Do you believe that life can be consistently peaceful, happy and fun? Why or why not?
- List some times you worried over nothing.
- Describe your identity- who are you and how do you see yourself? What labels do you give yourself?
- What identities or labels have your family, friends, or community given you that you have accepted as truth?
- How can you shift your identity to see yourself in a more loving way?
- Who do you admire, or what qualities do you admire in a person?
- Journal 10 resources for improving your mental health and/or for personal development; specific books you plan on reading, or inspirational podcasters, for example.
- What does love mean to you?
- What does success mean to you?
- How does money improve your life, and how might it not improve your life?
- List 5 things that make you the happiest.
- Write down 10 goals for the future.
- Journal 5 inspirational quotes that make you feel hopeful.
Free printable journal prompts for anxiety and depression PDF download
Download and print these journal prompts out for now or later. Feel free to share. I hope they help!
Concluding thoughts on anxiety and depression journaling
I hope you enjoyed these journal prompts for anxiety and depression. Hopefully, they can help you dig deeper into the reasons behind your thoughts and emotions. Self-knowledge is very empowering.
Please take care of yourself and go easy on yourself in your self-discovery and wellness journey. Journal prompts can bring up uncomfortable and difficult feelings. So be mindful of that. Journaling is a way to feel better, not worse. So if writing doesn’t work for you, try something else to feel better. Your mental health matters and you have the power to get better!
Let me know what you think in the comments!
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