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Journaling can provide feelings of calm, similar to relishing the first breath of fresh air in spring. Exploring our feelings and thoughts through writing can greatly supplement anyone’s growth journey.
Whether an experienced journaler or a curious beginner, these journal prompts for mental health will help anyone in personal betterment. Let’s develop more compassion and self-awareness.
1. What if I was the main character in a story?
This is called story journaling. The human brain is biologically wired to respond to great storytelling. The chemicals firing help us identify with characters and cherish happy endings. Anxious thinking loves to create stories of worst-case scenarios, too. So, you can use story journaling to combat that cognitive impulse for that more productive, positive spin.
Start by thinking of your life in seasons and chapters. It allows you to give agency to a particular phase or situation — just give it a title. Make sure it’s focused on positive development — ending all stories as tragedies is not helpful. They could start with tragic scenarios but bloom into something hopeful.
Journaling as a story allows us to look from the outside in — you craft a character that is separate from ourselves, yet you can empathize with them. Explore yourself as a character to see how a protagonist would tackle a situation.
2. What beliefs about myself are not serving me?
Limiting beliefs are one of the most toxic affectors of your mental health — you may not even realize all of them. Do you believe you’ll never get a promotion at your job because you’re young? Do you think you’ll never find love because you have always been dumped? These are false equivalencies that you can overcome with shadow work journaling.
This prompt allows you to journal not necessarily about experiences, but about the feelings related to experiences that reinforce limiting beliefs. This includes shame, fear, jealousy — any emotion we may feel uncomfortable unpacking. Working through internalized feelings and releasing them will allow you to develop greater mental clarity and spiritual awareness.
You can figure out what you want to start journaling about by asking yourself guiding questions to uncover what hard feelings need attention most:
- What old ways of thinking do I need to reframe?
- What evidence in my life proves I’m healing and growing?
- What beliefs do I want to create to replace harmful ones?
3. What can I do today to benefit my future self?
Also known as future self journaling, this is inspired by cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT is a process of using repetition to rewire the way we think. Suppose you believe you are not generous, but keep journaling about instances of your generosity. In this instance, you will eventually learn you are generous. Simple as that.
It works with future self journaling because this prompt acts as a facilitator between you and your future self, chatting as if you were close friends. Here are some standard future self prompts to help develop compassion for your present self by imagining how your future self would treat you:
- My future self will be proud I … today.
- What are three words I associate with my future self?
- What habits, thoughts or behaviors am I working to change to more fully become my future self?
- My future self would tell me … for this situation I’m struggling with.
- What are moments of gratitude and joy I want my future self to hold onto?
Make sure your journaling is full of evidence-based events or successes in your real life — big or small. Cognitive rewriting will be less likely to occur if that isn’t there. Over time we can edit our limiting beliefs and insecurities into ones of empowerment.
4. Am I asking the right questions?
Sometimes a more proactive way to tackle mental health is reframing the situation by asking questions. This is called question storming — it’s like brainstorming, but instead of attempting to pull solutions out of thin air, you can be curious.
Write down a bunch of questions related to an event or problem you’re facing. You may be panicking about throwing a baby shower. How could planning be made less stressful? How could you develop reasonable expectations for the day? These will reveal jumping-off points for actionable steps for you to take to overcome anything.
Journal Prompts for Mental Health
Do yourself a favor today and make a meaningful step toward personal development by trying journal prompts for mental health. No matter what part of your growth journey you’re on, you can implement journaling at any time for life-changing results.
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