The stress is real these days (okay, these last couple of years). We know that long walks in nature, meditation, and exercise can help boost your mood, but if you’re looking for something new to add into your mental health routine, you might want to try mindful journal prompts.
For anyone who finds themselves a little over-stressed or struggling with their everyday battles (and who isn’t?), Eden Garcia-Balis, Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist and CEO of Airport Marina Counseling Service, says journaling can be a great way to slow down, look inside yourself and even get clarity on the priorities in your life.
“Mental health professionals have found that journaling can help people discover their ‘why’ and give them clear direction to move forward,” she tells SheKnows. “With our busy lives, it can be easy to do things the same way you have always done them, flying on auto-pilot and never really considering how your decisions impact your life and those of the people around you. By being truly mindful of everything you do, it becomes more and more clear what is important in life and what is not.”
According to Dr. Jaime Zuckerman journal prompts allow for what’s called cognitive diffusion, or the ability to be objective to your own thoughts and emotions. “It allows you to look at your thoughts rather than being tangled up in them. It gives you a sense of clarity.”
Additionally, says Dr. Zuckerman, journal prompts also allow for you to track your mood, thoughts and behaviors across various scenarios, timeframes and in response to triggers, enabling you to see your progress (and pitfalls) over time.
“Mindfulness similarly gives you that same objectivity and clarity. It allows you to look at your thoughts as simply passing by,” she says. “Mindfulness allows you to ground yourself in the moment. By using your senses to take in your surroundings, you can anchor yourself in the present.”
If you’re not sure how to start a journaling practice, Dr. Zuckerman recommends finding a time of day and place that will have limited interruption, and ideally a time that you can stick to daily: “Start slow. Maybe five minutes once a day and gradually increase over time,” she says.”Be patient with yourself. Being mindful and hyper aware of your thoughts and feelings takes lots of practice. Be gentle on yourself. Mindfulness and journaling can also bring up uncomfortable (and previously avoided) thoughts and feelings.”
Below are fifteen journal prompts provided by experts to help you get in touch with your mind, body, and soul, and hopefully provide some relief in a topsy turvy world.