January 15, 2024

7 Prompts to Try if You're New to Journaling

Did something happen today that triggered a childhood wound? Did you find yourself thinking about a person or thing you recently lost in your life? Were most of your thoughts negative today? We have hundreds, if not thousands, of thoughts that float through our mind every single day. Putting a pen (or pencil) to paper can allow you to better understand and navigate through your thought patterns. And, research continues to show that journaling can help ease both depression and anxiety. So, why not give it a try?

Follow along for some tips on how to get started journaling as well as seven journaling exercises I often recommend to my clients.

How to Start Journaling

Starting a journaling practice may seem daunting at first. But, we promise it’s not as complicated as it seems!

First, buy a cute journal and some pens or pencils you really love.

Then, find a spot in your house where you can be alone with your thoughts, even if it’s just for five minutes.

Lastly, let go of judgment. This journal is for you and you only, so there’s really no need to worry if what you write sounds silly. Just keep writing!

Seven Journal Prompts to Try This Week

1. Explore Your Childhood Trauma

Write about specific patterns of negative thinking or behaviors you recognize in your life and how they may have roots in your childhood. Describe instances when these patterns have surfaced. Did they come after you were reprimanded or after you were rewarded? Did they come after moments of neglect? Take some time to sort through these instances and how they still manifest in your grown-up life. Meditate on ways you can better cope with negative thinking or behaviors based on what you’ve learned through this practice.

2. Learn to Cultivate Gratitude

Write down one thing you’re grateful for today. Then, describe all of the elements and individuals that made that one thing possible. Using these elements, create a chain of gratitude by detailing what about each element you’re thankful for. Notice how you feel after completing this exercise and write that down, too.

3. Reflect on Negative Thought Patterns

At the end of your day, reflect on moments when you observed negative patterns or thoughts. What triggered them? How could you respond differently in the future? Jot that all down. This could take anywhere from five minutes to an hour, depending on the day.

4. Meditate on Your Grief Journey

Navigating grief? Begin by writing “Today, I am really missing...” Then, write about what you miss about the person, place, thing, etc. you are grieving. Lastly, write down one thing you will do for yourself this week, and ask someone you trust to hold yourself accountable to do it.

5. Untangle Your Anxiety

Did you experience anxiety today? If so, write about how the anxiety made your body feel. Did your body tense? Did you begin to feel cold and clammy or hot and sweaty? Note if journaling about these feelings brings up any more bodily discomfort.

6. Revel in Your Power

When do you feel most powerful? Write about a moment in your life where you felt strong, admired, capable, etc. What happened to make you feel that way? Have you felt glimmers of that power in other moments of your life? Write those down, too. Then, write about a moment where you didn’t feel your power, where you maybe felt unworthy or uncomfortable. What made those moments so different?

7. Send Love to Your Younger Self

It’s never too late to give space to the person you once were. Write a love letter to past self at a specific age, preferably an age that holds great relevance in your life, whether positive or negative. Give yourself the advice, encouragement and admiration you needed at that age.

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