Journaling is widely recognized as a healthy practice. Research shows that writing down thoughts and feelings can decrease stress and increase empathy, focus and optimism.
Typically journaling is considered “free” writing or a record of occurrences. On the surface, writing down whatever you’re thinking or experiencing appears simple. But people tend to avoid journaling because it feels difficult, frustrating and confusing.
For those who struggle with self-confidence, performance anxiety and worry, journaling can feel like a nasty assignment to avoid.
But here’s the thing: Journaling is only for you.
Make Your Journaling A Comforting Practice
Your journal is your free, secret place to allow your mind to wander, releasing and recording your stresses, dreams, aspirations, hope, joys, gratitude, fears and anything else inside.
Journaling allows you a moment to catch a moment.
You may look back on your writing for perspective later – or never read it again. This is your choice! Remember that you are not writing a memoir. You never need to share it with your family, friends or others.
Journaling is one thing in life that 100% belongs to you.
And because it belongs to you, it can be in whatever form you desire.
If you’re not happy with it, you can write a whole rant on why you don’t like it!
So let’s make it as easy on you as possible.
If you’d love the benefits of journaling without the stress that you’re doing it wrong, some simple writing prompts will make it easier for you to begin this healthy habit. The prompts below are designed specifically to help you if you tend to worry. But they’ll work for anyone.
First a few practical matters:
- You can journal any time of the day, but to make it a habit, I’d suggest writing on a schedule to begin. You may choose first thing in the morning, last thing at night or anytime in between. Perhaps set an alarm to remind you until the practice feels as natural as brushing your teeth or taking a shower.
- Find a journal you like – any paper will do, but find one that feels the most freeing and accessible for you. Then plan to use it all up over any amount of time. It doesn’t need to be too precious or last forever. Play!
- You can use your keyboard if you prefer. However, you’ll miss seeing the quality and form of your writing. How you write can communicate as much as what you write.
- Remember to breathe and allow yourself to be as present to the moment of writing as you’re able. Avoid distractions. Put your phone away. Pop in some earplugs if necessary.
- Feel free to write as much or as little as you want. Examine whether you are rushing it. If so, slow down, and be patient with yourself. Breathe and engage a sense of humor. Discard old worries about school timed tests and writing prompts.
- Doodling, impromptu poems and song lyrics that come to you are totally acceptable, of course!
If your thoughts just flow – allow that – you don’t need a prompt.
However, if you’re feeling stuck or confused, simply write one of these prompts at the top of your page and begin. Even with a prompt, you may feel an instant resistance to write. Breathe and get curious about anything that arises. Write it down.
Answer only one question per day as fully as you want. Springboard off the idea with whatever comes to mind. (Honestly, I’ve had days when I describe how blank my mind feels at that moment!)
Skip any questions you dislike or change them to fit your circumstances. Some may evoke painful feelings. If that’s okay, be with those feelings, writing them down. If not, move on for now. As you get accustomed to your journal, you won’t feel as intimidated by everything you see there.
Go into detail and feel free to ask yourself questions in your writing. Like: I wonder why? Then answer them.
30 Prompts To Get You Started
- The most noticeable thought in my mind today is:
- One interesting part of my dreams of late is:
- Today I could not live without:
- I enjoy myself the most when:
- When I gaze at my hand, it reminds me of:
- I feel stress in this part of my body and it feels like___________:
- The story of my first crush is:
- I felt the most free in life at this age and here is what I was doing:
- The people who made me feel “important” when I was young and how they made me feel that way:
- If I imagine my worried thoughts as a cartoon character, they would look and sound like:
- I feel the most satisfied in life when I do these things:
- Three people who taught me about science and what I learned:
- The day I discovered I could make people laugh:
- When I imagine I have no problem to solve, here is what is left:
- If I could spend all day with anyone, here’s who and here’s what we would do:
- A year from now I think I’d like to:
- I know my best characteristics are:
- If fear wasn’t a thing, my best day would look like this:
- When I’m really, really old, I will tell people that my secret to a long life was:
- The hardest and longest I ever laughed was:
- A few things that I’m going to put down on paper because they are hard for me to deal with include:
- The best thing about a rainy (sunny, stormy, snowy, hot) day is when:
- If I didn’t have my current job and there were no restrictions on me, I’d:
- The person who bugged me the very most when I was a child and why:
- Six favorite songs that I recall from my teen years and how they made me feel:
- Using all 5 senses to describe someone I love, I would say:
- If my angry parts were just allowed to speak up unfiltered for one minute, they would say:
- Ten people I think are fabulous and why:
- If I could hide away and do what I want today, I would go here and do this:
- The best thing I could hear about myself from someone I love and respect is:
With time you will find your journal shifts and grows with you. You may notice trends in your life through your journaling. There will always be wisdom there, even when you cannot immediately see it.
For more ideas on calming and becoming more confident, download my book today: Calm Your Worries: Unlock Your Secret Code to Lasting Stress Relief & Self-Confidence.