Updated: Sep 14, 2020
Journaling for mental health has been proven time and time again to have important and lasting effects on one's well-being. During stressful times, what healthy coping methods do you use to manage and deal with stress?
If your current methods are getting old, or you feel you're lacking in the 'coping methods department', keeping a journal may be an enriching and self-identifying experience, as well as aid in personal growth and healing. Even a plain ole' notebook will do, all you need is a writing utensil, paper, and the right journal prompts to aid in your treatment and recovery!
"As of today, I've been journaling for 12 days and I haven't missed a day! I'm so proud of myself. I've noticed that I feel better. I've been managing stress a lot better than I did in the past without journaling and I've been keeping track of my emotions as well." - Andrea Vargas
Are you still looking for the right journal? Check out the following, giving a few pretty, botanical journal suggestions, destined to inspire jealous from family and friends, as well as give you the confidence you need to better your mental health: Jaunty Journals for Your Self-Confidence.
How Does Journaling Benefit Mental Health?
A previous article on Rose-Minded explains the scientific background behind some of the claims for journal prompts positively impacting mental well-being. Numerous diverse benefits were discussed from the practice of expressive writing, or writing in a journal (otherwise any personal writing that isn't for a project, work, or school).
The Mental Health Journal Guide for Depression and the Mental Health Journal Guide for Anxiety have both been discussed in separate posts. These journal guides contain an entire year's worth of mental health prompts to aid in the treatment and recovery of mental illness. Each guide also contains a calendar at the end, laying out each week's prompt for a whole year!
And now, there's a Mental Health Journal Guide for Bipolar Disorder! This is a 60-day guide laying out the journal prompts you need to understand and help manage your mental illness and promote well-being.
7 Mental Health Journal Prompts for Stress Relief
1. Finish the sentence
Finish this sentence, "Right now I feel _____" & finish this sentence as many times as you can (you can have multiple sentences or multiple answers separated by comas). Follow up with a bullet-point list of stressors.
Ex. Right now I feel stressed out. Right now I feel overwhelmed. Right now I feel like not enough.
Work & schedules
2. Coping strategies
How do I usually handle stress? Are these coping strategies working? How could I improve or add to my coping strategies to better manage stress (be bravely honest with yourself)?
Ex. I usually handle stress by avoiding it or distracting myself. This coping strategy is not working. I could add to my coping strategy or replace my strategy with journaling about my stressors or talking to a friend.
What are some things/people/opportunities/privileges/everyday occurrences I am grateful for? How do these positively impact my life and why am I grateful for them (list as many as you can, the more the better)?
Ex. I am grateful for my dog, my family, my friends, my work, my home, and my passions. My dog positively impacts my life by providing unconditional love, a consistent companion, healthy responsibility, and a means to be more social and active. My family positively impacts my life by... etc.
Don't know why gratitude improves mental health and reduces stress? Read more on How Gratitude Improves Your Mental Health, explaining exactly how it works!
List all your current self-care activities, big and small. Observe how many you have and decide if these are enough to support your health. If not, add a second list of new ideas! Be sure to check throughout Rose-Minded.com for more self-care ideas!
Ex. I like to combine big and small actions to practice self-care to spice things up and not overwhelm myself.
Taking a longer shower
Cleaning my room
Exfoliating and moisturizing
Spending time with my dog
Going on a walk
Painting my nails
5. Body sensations inventory
Take a body sensations inventory; is your stress causing muscle tension anywhere in your body? Are you grinding your teeth, biting your lips, biting your nails, etc. List the places you notice stress taking an effect on your body, and make one small goal to address a body tension, etc (Mindfulness is a great way to observe stress effects on the body).
Ex. When I sit still, close my eyes, and focus on my body and my breathing I notice that I have a lot of tension in my jaw and my shoulders. I grind my teeth at night when I sleep and my teeth hurt in the morning. I've been breaking out from stress. I've been biting my nails more often and that upsets me because they don't look as good painted when they are short... etc.
Write out a list of things you need to do. Then, rewrite the list in order of priority (time, importance, etc.).
Ex. The first list of things to do:
Go to Petco
Pick up prescription
The second list is rewritten in order of priority:
Pick up prescription
Go to Petco
If you could imagine any scenario (real or imaginary) to place yourself in, that would provide ultimate relaxation and peace, what would that place look like? Describe this place with as much detail as possible, use adjectives and familiar concepts so it's easy to place yourself in this scenario. This place could already exist, could have slight modifications to an existing place based on your preferences, or could be a place you have made up entirely.
Ex. I would want to be sitting on a fuzzy blanket on a beach with black sand, somewhere on a tropical island. The blanket would be white to contrast the sand and I would be in a big sweatshirt, sweats, fuzzy socks, and have a campfire nearby to keep me warm in the coastal chill.
Everyone is different when it comes to what works for stress relief and what doesn't, even in relation to journal prompts. Some of these may be beneficial, while others you may skip! Let us know in the comments below which prompts helped you when you were feeling stressed, and if there are any prompts you know or would like to recommend. Share the article with friends and family, because everyone gets stressed, on social media so they, too, can have a calm mind and calmer relationships.
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