3 Benefits of Journal Prompts for Mental Health

December 8, 2022

A journal prompt for mental health that reads “Today I’m feeling guilty for____"

If you’re new to journal prompts for mental health – you’re not alone.

 

While it’s a tool new to so many of us, in reality, writing down what we’re thinking or feeling is an age-old practice – something most of us did a lot in childhood. 

 

I have been writing down my mental problems since before I hit puberty. Let’s say…since I was 10? I struggled a lot, words on paper helped.

 

I had my own diary at home, top secret of course, and at school I would bite at any opportunity to write about the goings on in my head and life. We’d be asked to write about: 

  • Our favourite things
  • What we did over the weekend 
  • What emotions we were feeling [I had a lot]

 

The list goes on. 

 

Then, enter adulthood and for me, motherhood. 

 

After the birth of my second child, I lost myself. You can read more about my journey with postpartum depression and mental health here. As part of my journey to mental wellness and the path to rediscovering myself, I began to explore, learn about and try a number of mental wellness tools, included but not limited to:

 

Journaling for mental health has been one of my favourite and one of the most powerful tools for my overall wellness & healing throughout the years, and because it’s:

  • cost-effective
  • easy-to-do
  • requires very little time
 

This is why I am bent on sharing the benefits of journal prompts for mental health with as many people as possible. 

Because it helps me. Because it’s accessible. Because it’s a realistic and an attainable way to start changing your life.


In fact, I’m such a fan of journaling, I’ve even created my own journal for moms called The Honest Mom Journal: The struggling mom’s guide to struggling less.

The Honest Mom Journal: The struggling moms guide to struggling less.
See it on Amazon:

In this blog you will find

  • What journaling prompts are
  • How they work 
  • 3 benefits of journaling for mental health 
  • How to start using journal prompts today

>>At the end, try one of my own journal prompts that I use every morning

What is a journal prompt?

Journal prompts are meant to guide and support you by providing some focus and gentle thought provoking jump-off points.

Usually, therapeutic journal prompts are centered around a specific theme or topic designed to elicit a deeper level of reflection.

 

Some examples of journal prompts for mental health are:

  • I think my anxiety is trying to tell me ______________
  • One thing I’m holding onto that I’d like to release is ______________
  • Emotions I try to avoid are ______________

 

While I personally love writing, for so many of us – and occasionally me – starting with blank empty pages or a blank screen can be anxiety provoking.

 

Journal prompts for mental health are designed to make writing down your thoughts, feelings and emotions easier – and for moms with very little time to spare, they are a godsend.

 

I like to look at the journal prompts that I use daily as a type of supportive coach who’s on my side – gently redirecting my negative or unhealthy thought patterns and steering me toward mental wellness and self-discovery.

 

Journaling for mental health 

Journaling for mental health is a productive and constructive way to process your emotions and develop a deeper connection with yourself- and if you are a mom the domino effect of this helps you to be the mom you want to be to your kids.

It’s one of the best tools out there to:

  • Strengthen your emotional intelligence 
  • Manage feelings of overwhelm, anxiety, stress or depression 
  • Release feelings
 

Many therapists, out-patient and in-patient mental health programs now use journaling as a therapeutic way to address anxiety, depression and other mental health disorders.

 

But you don’t need to have an official mental health diagnosis to benefit from journaling for mental health. 

 

Too many of us are in a constant state of business.

 

Whether it’s work, parenting, scrolling, or a packed schedule of non-stop social events – being too busy can result in losing a connection with ourselves and avoiding difficult emotions. 

[Newsflash: avoidance does not make our problems go away]

Journaling is one of the most effective ways to slow down and take a moment to invest in your own mental wellbeing. 

When you journal for mental health you: 

  1. Pause and reflect on what’s going on in your life
  2. Take a moment to acknowledge uncomfortable emotions 
  3. Gain insight into thought patterns or behaviours 
  4. Build a positive dialogue and relationship with yourself 

 

And, there’s a lot of neuroscience to back these benefits up. 

The science behind journaling and writing things down

If you really want to achieve a goal – you need to write it down. That’s what the self-help and wellness gurus everywhere tell us anyway. It turns out there’s a ton of neuroscience behind this. 

 

Putting pen to paper:

 

Recent research from a 2022 study shows how writing and journaling about stressful events with the purpose of focusing on exploring and making sense of what is happening in your life can help you heal.

Another study – one that’s close to my heart – showed how mothers developed more optimism and gratitude when they began a mom journal focusing on self-care, emotional well-being and positive thinking.

So, what does this all mean?

Taking the time to actually write down our thoughts, feelings and journal about our deepest emotions and life experiences is the best way to actually process what’s going on in our inner worlds.

 

Through journaling we can develop new coping mechanisms and tools that directly improve our day-to-day emotional wellbeing.

 

 

 

Let’s dive deeper into three of the top benefits of journaling for mental health – three of which I’ve personally experienced.

Libby Ward, creator of Diary of an Honest Mom using journal prompts in her guided mom journal: The Honest Mom Journal.

Benefit #1: Journaling for mental health improves our self-talk

Using journal prompts for mental wellbeing is one of the best ways to strengthen our positive self-talksomething I have personally done A LOT of work on.

 

Self-talk is something we all do whether we’re consciously aware of it or not. It’s directly influenced by our subconscious and it can be both positive and negative.

Depending on what’s going on in our life, how much access we have to stress management tools and how much we’ve practiced positive self-talk – our self-talk has the power to bring us confidence and comfort or chip away at our self-esteem.

Journal prompts can help us start a new dialogue with ourselves that motivates us and helps us practice self-compassion.

The right prompts can help you:

  • Cut through your shame
  • Stop comparing yourself to others
  • Start finding grace and positivity


You deserve to be kind to yourself – you don’t need others to validate who you are.

Benefit #2: Journal prompts for mental health help us re-discover ourselves

Journal prompts are one of the best ways to deepen your self-exploration to discover your authentic self away from who you are as someone’s partner, parent, co-worker or friend.

Answering journal prompts intended for you to become aware and reflective of your innermost thoughts, emotions, hopes and stressors will help you cut through the daily clutter and spend time listening to one of the most important people in your life – yourself. 

  • Understand more about your own personal capacity to manage stress
  • Focus on what’s going well and what you are grateful for 
  • Learn what’s missing, what roadblocks you are facing and what you need 
  • Discover points of pride 

 

Most importantly, learn what’s really a priority for you – not just those around you. 

Benefit #3: Journal prompts for mental health help set your priorities straight

Spending time on journal prompts designed for private reflection – away from what your friends are doing, away from what’s happening in your social feed, and away from the needs of your partner, kids or coworkers is one of the best ways to really find out what’s a priority for you.

So many times I’ve said that comparison is the thief of joy – and it’s also a major distraction from what you really want. 


As a recovering perfectionist, I now use daily journal prompts to:

  • Set my daily priorities – what’s a realistic to-do list?
  • Adjust my expectations
  • Internalize that I can’t do it all 

 

Here’s an example from my own journal: The Honest Mom Journal:

A guided journal example from Libby Ward, creator of Diary of and Honest Mom used to demonstrate how journaling benefits mental health.

How to get the most out of journal prompts for mental health

There are so many great resources out there to begin using journal prompts for mental health and it’s important to find tools and techniques that work for you.

Here are three tips that helped me build journaling into my own daily routine.

Pick a journaling tool with prompts that speak to you

Before you begin journaling, consider what you’re hoping to get out of journaling.

Do you want to decrease anxiety?

Learn more about yourself?

 

Practice more self-love?

 

Begin a healing journey from trauma?

Find guided journals that really speak to you and provide prompts that make you feel curious and connected.

 

In my case, I was looking to struggle less as a mom. I was tired of starting my day overwhelmed with a never ending to do list and ending my day thinking of all the things I did wrong or that I didn’t get done. I was tired of feeling like a bad mom.

 

I couldn’t find a guided journal that honed in on helping me let go of unrealistic expectations and damaging mindsets that kept me from seeing myself as a good mom.

 

So I created my own guided Honest Mom Journal with prompts designed to reduce mom guilt and overwhelm while increasing self-compassion and confidence. It began to work immediately, as it did for the countless people who began to write to me to tell me so.

Start a simple journaling routine

Like so many new routines, we start out with the best of intentions and then find ourselves feeling like we haven’t lived up to our expectations. 

I highly recommend you don’t make journaling each day a time consuming task – and give yourself grace if you skip a day or even a few. 

Place your journal somewhere it’s realistic for you to have a moment to do a reflection. 

The best places I’ve heard people place their journals are:

Beside the coffee machine 

At their bedside table 

In their purse or back-pack 

Beside the oven 

Putting your journal near a daily activity where you have to wait for something to be done – like your coffee, dinner or before an appointment – is the best way to make it easy for you to take time to reflect.

Don’t overthink it - just start writing

Journaling for your mental health shouldn’t become a task or stressful project. 

While any new routine takes time to feel comfortable, you can set yourself up for journaling success by taking the pressure off. 

Go with the first thing you feel in your gut

Know there are no right or wrong answers

If thoughts don’t go to mind, think about your physical feelings

If you’re new to journaling for your mental health – remember like any new skill, journaling takes practice.

Final thoughts and a journal prompt

One of the number one reasons I’m so passionate about journaling is because it’s an accessible tool that anyone can use in their own home. 

Not everyone can access therapy. 

Not everyone can take medication. 

Not everyone has the resources for other self-care resources. 

Journaling is something anyone can do as long as they have access to a pen and paper. 

If you’re thinking of trying journal prompts for mental health, I’ve left one below as a starting point. Take 2 minutes to reflect and write down your response. 

I am feeling guilty for_______________

If you’re a mom who’s struggling, or you know a mom who might be struggling, take a moment to explore The Honest Mom Journal.

It’s an 8 week journal internationally designed to help moms let go of the unrealistic expectations and damaging mindsets that stop moms from seeing the good stuff.

Graphic explaining what to expect if you use Libby Ward's The Honest Mom Journal.

Order your journal today

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