Journaling is one of the most powerful forms of self-care and thankfully one of the cheapest.
So, if you’re looking for better mental, physical, and emotional health and you’re not sure where to start? Self-care journal prompts are a great starting point.
It doesn’t matter if you have never journaled before. Or if you’re not certain even where to begin or what to write about. Because I have 101 journal prompts for self-care, self-love, and self-discovery that will get you writing in no time.
The beautiful thing about journaling is you can write as much or as little as you want. You can write entire paragraphs or single words. You can draw your responses or paint them. And this is why journaling is such a powerful tool because you get to do what feels right for you as you take care of yourself.
What is self-care?
Self-care is any activity, practice, or habit that regularly reduces stress and enhances your well-being. I want to take a moment and focus on the regular part. Self-care is something that you make time to do and incorporate into your daily life, rather than something you do once in a while. Or as a form of triage when things get really bad.
Self-care is a form of self-love and not in that egotistical or self-centered way. And I think that’s where a lot of people get confused. Because social media presents self-care as a bubble bath, face masks, and anything pumpkin spice scented. And while these are great ways to self-soothe after a long day. True self-care involves a commitment to taking care of your health and well-being.
Ultimately, self-care is about finding something that you can do regularly to help you nurture and connect with yourself, and journaling is a great way to do that.
Why journal for self-care?
Journaling as a form of self-care is a quick and simple way to reduce stress, overwhelm, and burnout. So many of us feel burned out from our jobs and the myriad responsibilities of having a family and the oh, so fun adulting. It’s easy to become stressed from having too much on your plate. Or putting in long hours and the energy required into work that doesn’t fulfill you.
And journaling is a fun and relaxing form of self-care that can be done as part of your morning routine or evening routine. Because you can write about anything in your journal, you can write about your deepest thoughts. For example, you’re pain points, stress, anxiety, depression, or negative thoughts when you are experiencing tough times.
Because it can be hard to untangle the things that cause stress, anxiety, depression, or lead to negative thoughts when they’re all housed in our head. Just putting these things on paper and journaling about them can bring relief.
Journaling provides clarity. You can offload what’s bothering you and get a closer look at what is going on as well as the opportunity to begin problem-solving as you examine your problems or stressors on paper.
Journaling is also a way for you to map out regular ways to engage in realistic self-care for you on a regular basis.
You can journal about your fitness goals and track the progress that you are making towards them. Or your healthy cooking goals, the meals you have created, and how it felt to taste them, and changes you have noticed in your body. Your dream life and how your ability to take care of yourself moves you closer to that life.
You can journal positive affirmations and even make a gratitude list. Because let’s face it. The more stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, depressed, burnout we are. The more we desperately need self-care to recharge and keep going.
How journaling for self-care improves mental health.
Journaling helps you expand your awareness by helping you identify thoughts or emotions or any difficult thing you may be struggling with. For instance, do you have limiting beliefs around self-care?
Do you find yourself thinking that it’s too late to implement self-care into your daily habit? That you’re too old or just too busy to find the time? Or do you find yourself thinking that you need to do other more important things first before you can do self-care?
Feelings of unworthiness.
If you don’t feel that you are worthy at a subconscious level, you will not have the motivation or desire to do things that make you feel good, such as self-care. These limiting core beliefs are developed in childhood and can stem from any number of things. Such as child abuse, neglect, witnessing violence in the home, or even from caregivers that were not responsive to your needs.
When you struggle with feelings of unworthiness, you will unconsciously self-sabotage your own self-care because you don’t feel like you deserve to take care of yourself. One common way that most people will sabotage their own self-care is by constantly putting other people’s needs ahead of their own.
And this may be something that you learned in childhood that it’s selfish to prioritize yourself. And as a result, shortly after you start a self-care routine, you may abandon it because you feel guilty for taking care of yourself. Or you “mess it up” in order to go back to your comfort level of putting everyone else ahead of yourself.
When you journal as a form of self-care, sometimes these themes begin to emerge and helps expand your awareness. For example, do you have a limiting belief around your own worthiness to take care of and prioritize yourself?
Putting yourself last.
This can happen with anyone who has strong caregiving tendencies or finds their worthiness by caring for others. But is most commonly seen in women. Whether this is a nature or nurture thing is moot. If you find yourself constantly putting everyone ahead of your own needs, you’re going to get burnout.
This reminds me of the speech that flight attendants give before take-off. You might already know the one that I’m talking about. The “in case of emergency put on your mask first before helping anyone else that even includes your loved ones sitting next to you.” There’s a reason why they tell you this before take-off. If you can’t help yourself, then how are you supposed to be able to help others. You can’t pour from an empty cup, and that’s just the truth of it.
So if you’re finding yourself depleted and resentful, it may be because you are trying to pour from an empty cup. If this sounds like you, then you need to prioritize your own self-care just as much as you do taking care of others.
I’m too busy.
How many people do you know say that they have enough time in the day to do everything that they want to do? I bet the answer is none. We as a culture have adopted a scarcity mindset. There is never enough time in the day for us to get everything done that we need to in order to find the time to take care of and ourselves. So we adopt this limiting belief that we are hapless victims to not enough time. Except, time is one of the few resources available to EVERYONE. We all get the same hours every day regardless of age, gender, marital status, family status, etc.
The excuses of “I’m too busy” and “I don’t have enough time to take care of myself.” Have become socially accepted cop-outs for self-care. How many times have you told yourself you don’t have enough time to squeeze in a quick workout? Or you don’t have enough time to journal or find 5 minutes to do something that will help you recharge? Yet, you find the time to binge-watch Netflix, scroll through social media, or play a game on your phone. This is about choices, people. Where are you choosing to spend your time, and are you prioritizing the wrong things?
I don’t have any passion or purpose.
I had passion and purpose described to me in a way that made a lot of sense, and I’m going to share it with you. Suppose we look at passion and purpose as being parts of a car. Passion is the engine (it’s what gets us going), and purpose is the steering wheel (the direction we’re going). If we do not have an engine or a steering wheel, then that car is going nowhere. It’s just going to sit there and rust. And that’s what happens to us when we don’t have passion or purpose. We sit there and rust and let time pass on by and maybe binge-watch Netflix, scroll social media, or play games on our phones.
If this fits for you, then the question is. When did you lose your passion or purpose? Did you lose it in high school or some other time in your life? And if this is the case, then go back into your memory to a time in your life when you knew your passion or purpose. What did you aspire to be or create or achieve? And can you pick up from there, or is there a new path that has evolved from your prior passions?
When we take better care of ourselves, then we are excited to live. It’s really that simple. What’s the point in living longer or improving your quality of life if you don’t feel inspired? And this is where journaling as a form of self-care comes in. Because reaching for your highest potential is good for your mental health and physical well-being. But to reach for it, the first thing you need to be doing is taking care of yourself.
I think it’s safe to say that we all want to avoid pain. Human beings are pleasure-seeking creatures, and we try and avoid pain at all costs. However, pain is unavoidable and is a part of life. And you need to have the tools and willingness to work through it so you can get to a place of healing. But what happens when we don’t have the tools is we turn to things that numb the pain. We turn to food, substances, social media. Anything that can bring relief, even if it’s only temporary.
When what you really need is extra self-love and self-care. And these can be in the form of healthy foods, surrounding yourself with close friends and family, and taking time to care for yourself.
How to make journaling part of your routine.
Journal as often as you can. This means that you don’t have to limit your journaling to the same time of the day. It’s completely okay to journal at different times. But try and make daily journaling a part of your routine.
Make the space and time to journal. You don’t have to dedicate a ton of time to journaling. If you only have 5 minutes or 15 minutes, that’s completely okay. It’s a lot like working out. The only bad workout is the one that never happens. The same is true for journaling.
Write for your eyes only. Journaling for you is about you. So this is the space that you need to write about what you need to write about, where you can be unfiltered with your thoughts and feelings and where you’re struggling. Because when you can really look at what is going on, you can get a different perspective that might have alluded you through all of the filterings. So let your thoughts and feelings flow onto the paper and see what different things surface for you. You may be surprised by what you discover about yourself.
And have fun with it. There’s no right or wrong way to journal.
What to write in your self-care journal.
You’ve made it this far. You now know what self-care is and the benefits of journaling for self-care. You may even have an idea of some limiting beliefs that you have been harboring around self-care, all the while feeling burnout and not just a little bit crispy. So you decide to give this journaling thing a try. You grab a notebook and a handful of nice pens. You flip open the cover, and your mind goes blank. But, don’t worry, it happens to the best of us, and I’ve got you covered.
Make sure and keep scrolling for you’re 101 self-care journaling prompts so you can start journaling today without fear of the dreaded blank page.
You can write about the good parts of your day.
The stuff that went right or at least well. We sometimes forget to include the things that go right in our life. And sometimes, just focus on what’s going wrong. When you do this, it’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy. And a strange sense of satisfaction when you just focus on the negatives. That out of all the things you don’t know. You at least know that.
You can write about the bad parts of your day.
Pain is unavoidable. It’s just a fact of life. But how you manage those bad parts of your day is what makes all the difference in your life. And when you write about the bad parts, you can begin to discover different ways to manage those bad parts.
Are they things in your control that you can change? For example, do you need to change how you think about them or the stories you create around them? Or are they things that you cannot control and need to accept?
But even then, how you think about those things you cannot control is an area that YOU can change. So, likewise, you can change the stories that you tell yourself in the present moment about the things you can’t control.
What did you spend today thinking about?
Are you thinking about a decision you need to make that you have been mulling over for a while? Or have you been thinking about something from your past that keeps resurfacing?
Whatever it is, write them down. We spend so much time in our heads thinking. And it can be a relief to write down the thoughts that clutter our mind and consume our focus.
Do you struggle with why?
Then dig a little deeper and start understanding why you struggle as you do. Why are you thinking and feeling certain things? And again, what are the stories that you are telling yourself to have you thinking and feeling the way you do.
Do your stories encourage you to continue to think and feel this way? And if you don’t like it, what’s a different story you can tell yourself? And if you did change your story, what positive changes might you experience with a different story?
Make a gratitude list.
I know this may sound a little corny to you but hear me out. We forget to stop and be grateful for what we have. Because we get focused on what we don’t have. And if you need a few ideas to get you going, then here they are:
- You’re 6 feet above the ground. Be grateful for that.
- You can read. That’s something to be grateful for.
- You obviously have some form of an electronic if you’re reading this and access to the internet.
So take a moment and look around. Suppose you’re reading this in the comfort of your own home. Take stock of what you have. If you’re reading this at work, be grateful you have a job (even if it doesn’t fulfill your passions). Just be grateful you have one.
But take a moment and take stock of what you have and write them down even if it’s mundane, like having toilet paper (#2020toiletpapershortage).
Take a moment and reflect on your good memories. No matter how bad things were, there are always snippets of good in there. So take a moment and think about those good things and what made them good. What were you thinking and feeling? And again, what was the story that you were telling yourself about those thoughts and feelings that make it a good memory?
Take what you discover from these favorite memories and times that you may have experienced genuine joy. And ask yourself how you can bring more of that into your present life. What is it that you need to incorporate into your life? And it doesn’t have to be on a daily basis but with some regularity.
Favorite songs or activities.
Sometimes you just need a list when you’re feeling low on inspiration. For example, do you have a favorite song or songs that you feel recharged when you are listening to them?
My favorite song is “Just Like Fire.” by Katy Perry. I can be super low, and by the time I get done belting out the lyrics to that song, I feel recharged and like I’m no longer trying to pour from an empty cup.
So take a few minutes and think about what songs or activities recharge you when you feel like you’re trying to pour from an empty cup. And jot them down so you can refer to that list when you’re out of inspiration and need to recharge.
What do you dream of?
We all have dreams. We all sit and fantasize about things. About our dream life, what we would rather be doing instead of what we’re actually doing. So, write about your dreams. And then take it a step further. What is the first step that you need to take to start getting closer to that dream? And maybe that first step is to be more present in the moment with a mind-frame that is open to new opportunities. Or maybe you need to make some life changes, and again, what is the first step that you need to take to move one step closer.
And now the moment you have been waiting for.
101 self-care journal prompts.
- What are some ways I connect with others and find community?
- Write a love letter to yourself about what you love about yourself.
- What have stressful times taught you about resiliency?
- List your 5 favorite ways that you like to treat yourself and why.
- Find and list podcasts that inspire you and why they inspire you.
- Do a 10-minute meditation and write about what it was like.
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Make a list of physical self-care activities that you would want to spend 20 minutes doing (walking, stretching, yoga, cardio, etc.).
- Write about your favorite vacation and what made it your favorite.
- What are your goals for this week?
- List 10 affirmations for peace, calm, and tranquility.
- When do you feel most at ease?
- List 5 opportunities to treat yourself with compassion.
- In what ways am I prioritizing the needs of others ahead of my own.
- Reflect on your life and your accomplishments (and don’t let your inner critic silence you).
- What am I grateful for?
- Create your own affirmations for releasing built-up emotions.
- When I think of restorative “me time,” I think of…
- Write down the emotions you have experienced and the stories you have created around them.
- When I think of connection with others, these are the people that come to mind.
- What are the things in life that you want to say “hell yes, I’d love to go.”
- What are the things in life that you want to say “NO” to? (Check out my “People Pleasers Guide to Setting Boundaries.”)
- Who or what inspires you?
- If you could live in any time period (past or future), when would you want to live?
- List 5 fruits and vegetables that help nourish your body.
- What do you wish you had more time to do more often?
- Write a thank you letter to your body expressing your thanks for its strength and carrying you through life.
- What is an obstacle that you have overcome, and what has it taught you about your resiliency?
- Write about a fictional character that inspires you; what is it about them that you admire?
- What limiting beliefs are you ready to let go of?
- When you think of choice, what comes to mind?
- What is your favorite motivational quote?
- What values do you hold, and what makes them important to you?
- Write down whatever comes to mind and keep writing until you feel done.
- When you think of forgiving others, what comes to mind?
- What comes to mind when you think of forgiving yourself?
- Do you have things that you just need to let go of?
- Draw a suitcase and list your emotional baggage and journal about what it would feel like to get rid of it.
- What would I do if I wasn’t afraid?
- What is something that I still want to learn about?
- List a few ways you can change your daily routine.
- Where do you find joy?
- Where do you find peace?
- Take a moment and close your eyes and visualize a place of serenity (real or imagined) describe or draw it out.
- If you could have a self-care weekend what would you spend it doing?
- List your favorite songs that help you recharge.
- List your favorite activities that help you recharge.
- Create a self-care activities list that can be your go-to inspiration.
- What makes you smile?
- Create a collage of things that you like what do they all have in common?
- Be honest with what stresses you – this is a great opportunity to start problem-solving.
- What are your favorite smells, and how do they calm you?
- Write a farewell letter to your inner critic and let it know why you’re saying goodbye.
- Go back and answer previous journal entries – you may have greater insight now.
- List things that you are looking forward to (new insights, holidays, etc.).
- Brainstorm new things that you want to try, both big and small.
- Find new healthy recipes that you want to try and write them down.
- If your future self could talk to you now what advice would they give you?
- Where do you hope to visit one day?
- If you could go to Hogwarts, would you go?
- What makes you feel most loved?
- What would you tell your younger self and are you still struggling with this now?
- Draw yourself as a superhero. What would your powers be?
- Draw yourself as a tree. What type of tree did you draw, and what qualities did you give it?
- How do I know when I’m getting enough rest?
- When I think of mindfully eating, what comes to mind?
- Doodle, whatever comes to mind.
- What are your goals for the next 6 months?
- Write out 5 spa ideas for self-care (for at home or a spa appointment)
- Write a song about empowerment.
- List your top movies from childhood that make you feel good.
- Write a letter to your future self about how s/he inspired you to become them.
- If you’re an introvert, how do you recharge?
- If you’re an extrovert, how do you recharge?
- How do you know when you have recharged?
- If you can’t pour from an empty cup, then how do you fill it?
- Draw what your cup looks like today and what you want it to look like moving forward.
- Describe a valuable lesson that you have learned and why you are grateful for it.
- When you think of time, what comes to mind?
- What is one thing I give myself the freedom to do?
- I take responsibility for my own well-being by…
- I swear that I will always be strong, and there is a reason why. And what is that reason?
- List your favorite love songs by decade.
- When things don’t go as planned, what do I need to tell myself?
- How do I know when I’m practicing self-compassion?
- What do I need to tell myself about resiliency?
- What is my body’s story?
- Out of all the hats that you wear, which one tires you the most?
- How do you recharge after a hard day?
- Do you have habits that are unhealthy, maybe even destructive?
- What are my coping skills for when I’m anxious, depressed, or just plain struggling?
- Who are the people that I turn to when I’m struggling?
- How does my body tell me it’s time to slow down and recharge?
- What gets in the way of my self-care?
- Do I put others ahead of my own needs because I think that’s being selfless?
- What were my caregivers’ beliefs around self-care?
- What are my beliefs around self-care?
- How have my views of taking care of myself evolved over time?
- What are my favorite ways to move my body that are just for me?
- Identify 3 ways that you can nurture yourself physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
- The story I’m telling myself is…
The beautiful thing about journaling for self-care is it oftentimes leads to self-discovery.