While I was sitting in the waiting room before my therapist appointment, a million thoughts raced through my head. “So many things have happened since my last visit. Where did we leave off last time? What do I say?” Across from me, another patient held a journal. When I saw it, I realized–I hadn’t been journaling consistently. I didn’t have notes about events that have triggered my depression and anxiety. Having a written record of moods, events, and triggers would have been really helpful at that time. Journaling can help your everyday mental health and journal prompts can help facilitate this. Here is an easy journal prompt that you can use for your everyday mental health.
A Good Journal Prompt Can Reframe Your Thoughts to Help Mental Health
Maybe you’ve gone to a nerve-racking appointment or a difficult event with a scattered mind and nothing to help you feel centered.
In our busy lives, this is understandable. We don’t always have time to think about how we feel or how we can reframe our thoughts. With mental health conditions, life can be really stressful and sometimes just downright painful. I have found that it helps just to have a journal with me, even if I don’t get a chance to use it.
Being a writer, I always used to think, “I have to write 10 pages for this to actually be considered writing.” But I was wrong–any number of written words counts as writing. Any amount of writing is beneficial (Depression and Writing as an Outlet). And if an easy journal prompt helps you write even a little, it can help your everyday mental health.
The 5-4-3-2-1 Journal Prompt for List-Making
When it’s hard for me to write, I try to think of topics for lists. Given the time issue, lists can provide a great way to just include a few words for memory or a sense of creativity.
A few months ago, I learned about the 5-4-3-2-1 coping technique, which is meant specifically for the senses. I took the number concept to write lists with topics related to my depression, anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).
It’s not always easy to figure out which topics you want to include in your lists. Here are two examples of my favorite topics for the morning and night.
Morning journal prompts for mental health:
- Five thoughts I have this morning
- Four things I have to do before work
- Three things I’m looking forward to about today
- Two positive quotes
- One thing I’d like to accomplish today
Journal prompts at night:
- Five thoughts I’ve had today
- Four moods I’ve experienced
- Three nice things I’ve done
- Two people I talked to
- One accomplishment I made
Sometimes, it helps to come up with different topics or orders for them. The nice thing about this is that you don’t have to come up with everything, or you can come up with more things when you have time. The number concept is just meant to remind you that writing doesn’t have to be long and drawn out. Sometimes a short list is just fine.
Journal Prompts for Mental Health Don’t Have to Be Serious
Writing lists doesn’t have to be tremendously emotional. The topics don’t have to be serious (e.g. how I felt, what I thought, mistakes I made, etc.). Rather, they can be light (e.g. new bands I heard, new hobbies I’d like to try, new strengths I found, etc.). The former is intended to help yourself deal with triggers. The latter is intended to distract from anxiety or depression and inspire positive thinking.
On days when you don’t have work but struggle with anxiety and depression over issues at home, you can try to spend time reading back through old lists and reflecting on thoughts and feelings that you didn’t write down before. This will help you recall many events in less time. Some days, you might find that you can write lists for several hours.
This method doesn’t work for everyone, but there are many other methods of therapeutic writing (23 Journal Prompts to Improve Self-Esteem) that can also help mental heatlh.