Simple Journaling Prompts for Depression | Anxiety


Do you have a way of coping with anxiety, stress, or depression? Perhaps you like to meditate, write or exercise. Do you use journaling prompts for depression or anxiety?

Among many other activities, I enjoy writing the most to help cope with my anxiety and stress.

I write because I acknowledge the health (mental and physical) risks of social work.

According to a recent article by Oliver Beer and Sheena Asthana published in Community Care, the job of the social worker is carried out in an increasingly tough environment.

This setting is categorised by rising demands, diminishing resources, and negative scrutiny from the media.

Social workers experience stress associated with both short- and long-term health problems. The impact can have a devastating effect on the lives of social workers.

The impact may be in the form of promoting damaging behaviours such as emotional eating, drug and alcohol misuse to cope with the negative emotions and psychological stress.

Mental Health Benefits of Journal Writing

Mental Health Journaling for Anxiety

Other long-term impact includes obesity, diabetes, risk of coronary heart disease, stroke, and poor immune system.

As social workers, it is vital that we have our own coping mechanisms to help protect ourselves from work-related stress and other associated health risks.

In this article, I will explore the benefits of mental health journaling, how journaling helps with managing stress, anxiety and depression and what you can write in a mental health journal.

Can you relate to this epic piece below?

“You look in the mirror at the beginning of each day.

and ask yourself what mask should you place on your face today?

No, not the sad one, it’s too revealing.

You don’t want to show the world your genuine feelings.

For the mask that you can see

camouflages the true you.

It’s your public face that you remove each night,

when you bare your soul, the mirror’s light.

It’s the one meant for only your eyes to see

it speaks of all your history.

It tells of your youth and girlish/boyish ways,

your adolescents and your young woman’s/man’s dreams.

It tells of good times of which you had your share

of love lost and pain so hard to bear.

So you choose your mask so carefully,

to cover the face that was given to you,

the one that was meant for only your eyes to see” Charlene Valladares

Personally, I have related to this piece many times.

When there is so much in your head and you struggle to clear these, guess what….. start journaling today to help you start feeling better.

Journaling for stress, anxiety or depression is a cheap and easy way to empty your thoughts and you can add this activity to your morning or evening routine.

What are the Benefits of Mental Health Journaling?

Benefits of Mental Health Journaling

  1. Reduce stress
  2. Reducing symptoms of depression
  3. Improve your working memory (Baikie & Wilhelm, 2005)
  4. Enhance your sense of well being
  5. Reduce emotional eating
  6. Reduce your desire for alcohol consumption
  7. Boost your confidence
  8. Increased happiness
  9. Boost your mood
  10. Enhancing your reading skills
  11. Improved writing skills
  12. Appreciating the positives as well as the negatives in life
  13. Increased ability to achieve set goals
  14. Your emotional resilience will improve
  15. You become more self-aware
  16. Ability to reflect effectively
  17. Improved memory
  18. Improved overall cognitive functioning
  19. Strengthens the immune system
  20. Ability to enjoy life to the fullest
  21. Improve your engagement with others
  22. Letting go of negative thoughts
  23. Releasing pent-up feelings and everyday stress

How Can Journaling Help With Managing Depression, Stress, or Anxiety?

Benefits for journaling for anxiety

Research highlights that journaling can be effective in helping people manage their depressive, stress or anxiety symptoms.

Although journaling cannot be used to replace professional guidance when conditions are severe, it can be used alongside.

Here are examples of what research says about the benefits of writing for managing depression:

  • Expressive writing can reduce symptoms of depression in women who are struggling with the aftermath of intimate partner violence (Koopman, Ismailji, Holmes, Classen, Palesh, & Wales, 2005);
  • Writing in a journal may also be as effective as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy(CBT) for reducing symptoms of depression in high-risk adolescents (Stice, Burton, Bearman, & Rohde, 2006);
  • Expressive journaling may not reduce the frequency of intrusive thoughts in depressed individuals, but it moderates their impact on depressive symptoms, leading to a reduction in symptoms (Lepore, 1997);
  • Journaling can help students who are vulnerable to depression reduce their brooding and rumination, two contributing factors of depressive symptoms (Gortner, Rude, & Pennebacker, 2006);
  • In general, people diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder reported significantly lower depression scores after three days of expressive writing, 20 minutes per day (Krpan, Kross, Berman, Deldin, Askren, & Jonides, 2013).

What Do You Write In a Mental Health Journal 

journal writing ideas for depression

Here are some journaling ideas for depression, anxiety and stress.

  1. Use a journal prompt to kick start your writing
  2. What are you 5 best skills and talents
  3. What is your biggest fear?
  4. How would you address this?
  5. Name 5 songs that make you feel good.
  6. What is the best compliment you have ever received or given?
  7. How did it make you feel?
  8. What are you grateful for?
  9. If you had a magic wand, what would you change in your life?
  10. Why would you change this?
  11. How can you achieve this? (it may take weeks or years, but taking the first step will draw you closer to the change you want).
  12. Describe your perfect relationship
  13. Can this relationship be improved?
  14. Write down 5 steps you can take to improve it.
  15. The greatest lesson I have learned about anxiety, stress or depression is:
  16. What are your current thoughts and feelings?
  17. What are you trying to achieve or avoid right now?
  18. Start your sentences with ‘I’ statements and present tense statements like ‘right now’, ‘today’……
  19. Write for at least 5 minutes a day
  20. Describe your experiences in life
  21. Start writing about where you are in your life
  22. Make it a routine to write everyday
  23. Ideally write in the morning, right after you wake up
  24. Prepare your mental state before writing
  25. Describe what you have planned for the day (if writing in the morning)
  26. Describe how your day went (if writing in the evening)
  27. Read and reflect on what you have written
  28. Writing affirmations is recommended
  29. Write about aspects of your life you are grateful for
  30. Write about people in your life you are grateful for.
  31. If you didn’t have depression, stress or anxiety, how would your life be like?
  32. If you could change your career, what would you like to become and why?
  33. How are you going to achieve this dream?
  34. What steps can you take to achieve this goal?
  35. Write a love letter to yourself.
  36. Write a thank-you letter to yourself.
  37. 10 things that can make you feel better today are:
  38. 10 things I can do to help another person feel great about themselves today are:
  39. Reflect on your favourable moments in life.
  40. What made these moments so special?
  41. If you didn’t have any fear in the world, what would you do and why?
  42. What would you do differently today?
  43. Is there anyone you need to reach out to today? This could be to help or to ask for support in an area you are struggling with.

Mental Health Ideas: Self-Reflection Prompts for Anxiety

Benefits of journaling for stress

  1. Has anything been bothering me. If so, why?
  2. What is my biggest priority?
  3. What am I proud of myself for?
  4. Are there any decisions I could make that would improve my health?
  5. The best advice I could give someone at the moment is…
  6. My perfect day looks like….
  7. What am I most grateful for this year?
  8. Did I overreact to anything this week?
  9. How do I think my partner feels about me currently?
  10. Do I have a current habit at the moment that I would like to correct?
  11. Have I been ashamed or disappointed in myself recently?
  12. My sleeping patterns are…..
  13. What is my biggest inspiration at the moment?
  14. Right now, I could not live without…….
  15. The best thing I’ve got going on right now is….
  16. The best thing that happened today was?
  17. How have I been feeling lately?
  18. Where would I like to travel to on my next holiday?
  19. I really value my relationship with……
  20. What qualities of my personality have been dominated lately?
  21. I am thankful for……….
  22. What am I most grateful for today?
  23. I’d say my biggest strength at the moment is……
  24. What would I like to learn?
  25. Right now, I feel……
  26. One thing that is nagging me at the moment is….
  27. What I need in my life right now is/are……
  28. I really shouldn’t have……
  29. What will you do on your next day off?
  30. I really appreciate…..
  31. I will never…..
  32. Are there currently any hobbies or interests that I would like to pursue?
  33. What has caused me the most stress or anxiety lately?
  34. I could definitely improve my….
  35. What is my main priority this year?
  36. If tomorrow were my last day on earth, what would I do?
  37. I smiled when….
  38. This weekend I would like to……
  39. I’m so happy that……. is a part of my life, because…..
  40. A perfect morning starts with…..
  41. Have I generally been on time lately?
  42. What made me laugh today?
  43. I’ve noticed lately that I’ve been really good at…..
  44. It’s so awesome that…..
  45. Name one thing that you need to currently improve on?

What are some good journaling prompts?

  1. Reflect on a recent challenge you faced and how you overcame it.
  2. Write about a person who has had a significant impact on your life and why.
  3. Describe a moment of gratitude and explain why it is meaningful to you.
  4. Explore a goal or aspiration you have and the steps you are taking to achieve it.
  5. Write a letter to your future self, detailing your hopes and dreams.
  6. Describe a place that brings you peace and tranquility.
  7. Reflect on a mistake you made and the lessons you learned from it.
  8. Write about a book, movie, or piece of art that deeply resonated with you and why.
  9. Explore a childhood memory that holds special significance for you.
  10. Describe an act of kindness you received or witnessed and its impact on you.

What questions are in the 5-minute journal?

The 5-minute journal typically consists of three questions in the morning and two in the evening:


  1. What are three things you are grateful for?
  2. What would make today great?
  3. What is your daily affirmation?


  1. What are three amazing things that happened today?
  2. How could you have made today even better?

How do you start a simple journal?

To start a simple journal, follow these steps:

  1. Choose a journal or notebook that inspires you.
  2. Set aside a regular time and place for journaling.
  3. Begin by writing the date at the top of the page.
  4. Write freely about your thoughts, feelings, and experiences.
  5. Don’t worry about grammar or structure; focus on expressing yourself.
  6. Consider using prompts or starter sentences to kickstart your writing.
  7. Write for as long or as little as you feel comfortable.
  8. Remember that your journal is a safe space for self-reflection and exploration.

What are starter sentences for journaling?

  • Today, I am feeling…
  • One thing that made me smile today was…
  • The most important lesson I learned recently is…
  • In the next month, I hope to…
  • Right now, I am grateful for…
  • I feel inspired when…
  • If I could change one thing about my life, it would be…
  • Today, I achieved…
  • One thing I love about myself is…
  • I am excited about…

What should I journal every day?

There are no strict rules about what you should journal every day, as it largely depends on your personal preferences and goals. However, some common themes to consider including in your journal are:

  • Gratitude: Write about things you are grateful for each day.
  • Reflection: Reflect on your experiences, thoughts, and emotions.
  • Goals: Set and track your short-term and long-term goals.
  • Self-Discovery: Explore your values, beliefs, and personal growth.
  • Positive Moments: Record positive experiences and achievements.
  • Challenges: Write about obstacles you face and potential solutions.
  • Inspiration: Capture quotes, ideas, or insights that inspire you.

How do you journal daily for anxiety?

Journaling can be a beneficial practice for managing anxiety. Here are some tips:

  1. Set aside a specific time each day for journaling.
  2. Write freely and without judgment, allowing your thoughts to flow.
  3. Describe your anxious feelings and the specific triggers or situations.
  4. Explore the underlying emotions and beliefs connected to your anxiety.
  5. Brainstorm possible solutions or coping strategies.
  6. Challenge negative thoughts and replace them with positive or realistic ones.
  7. Express gratitude for the positive aspects of your life.
  8. Reflect on moments of growth or progress in managing anxiety.
  9. Consider seeking guidance from a therapist or counselor for additional support.

Is it better to journal in the morning or at night?

The best time to journal depends on your personal preference and schedule. Some people find it helpful to journal in the morning as a way to set intentions for the day, express gratitude, or reflect on dreams.

Others prefer journaling at night to review the events of the day, process emotions, and promote relaxation before sleep. Experiment with both morning and evening journaling to see what works best for you.

What’s the difference between a diary and a journal?

While the terms “diary” and “journal” are sometimes used interchangeably, there can be slight differences:

  • Diary: Typically focuses on recording personal experiences, events, and emotions in a chronological manner. It often has a day-to-day format and may include more personal anecdotes and reflections.
  • Journal: Generally a broader term that encompasses various forms of writing, including personal reflections, goal setting, creative writing, and self-exploration. It can be less structured and may include different types of prompts, exercises, and free writing.

What is the morning journal format?

The morning journal format can vary based on personal preference, but it often includes the following elements:

  1. Date: Start by writing the date at the top of the page.
  2. Gratitude: List three things you are grateful for, expressing appreciation for the positive aspects of your life.
  3. Intentions or Goals: Set one or more intentions or goals for the day, clarifying what you hope to accomplish or focus on.
  4. Affirmation: Write a positive affirmation or a statement that encourages and uplifts you.
  5. Additional Reflections: You can add any other thoughts, plans, or reflections you have for the day.

Remember, these formats are flexible, and you can adapt them to suit your needs and preferences in your journaling practice.


Working daily on our mental health can have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing.

Mental health plays an important role in the way we deal with stress, how we relate with others, and the decisions we make in our daily lives.

Consider making the right changes for ‘you’ today.

Engaging in depression writing exercises or anxiety writing exercises will help improve your state of mind.

Our mental health requires a great deal of attention. Start making healthy and positive choices today.

Do you want to speak to a professional?

For mental health support services, you may contact the Samaritans or Better Help for affordable online therapy and counseling sessions or eTherapy. UK


How to Start a Mental Health Journal Today

You can also connect with social work haven by

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5 thoughts on “Simple Journaling Prompts for Depression | Anxiety”

  1. I love it that your posts are not just for social workers (I am not a social worker by profession – I feel like one at times for friends but that’s something totally diffferent of course). Journaling is one of the best skills one can have to work on self growth and on happiness. You have provided some extensive lists with questions that can be an inspiration to start writing, that are truly helpful.
    Great article! Thank you so much!

  2. I have incorporated journalling into my morning routine. However I often find myself just staring at the page and thinking – what should I write?? I love the above prompts – I used them and have just now filled a whole page in my notebook in a couple of minutes. I’ll be using these going forward – thank you!


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