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Mental Health Journaling Guide

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I’ve been using journaling to manage my depression and anxiety for years now. 

It’s one of the most important things I do for my mental health. People ask me all the time how I got started journaling or what I write about in my journal so I thought I would make a post all about it! 

These are the ways I use journaling to manage my mental health and some ideas for you to get started journaling too. If you’re looking for journal prompts I have a ton of them in this post or you can signup and grab the free mental health journaling workbook below. 

Process Old Trauma

I am a huge advocate of going to therapy but I know not everyone can afford it. While I don’t think journaling can work as a replacement for therapy I do think it can help you process old trauma. 

I like to write letters to people I need to forgive or who hurt me in the past. I’ve been able to heal a lot of old wounds by rehashing it in my journal. I try to keep it positive and purpose-driven by writing the lessons I learned or how the experience will serve me in the long run. 

The great thing about journaling is that it’s confidential and you don’t have to worry about anyone else reading it. It’s a great way to explore your own thoughts and feelings without worrying about being judged for them. If you are worried someone might find your journal just tear out the pages when you’re done and shred them or throw them away. 

I find sometimes just knowing there is absolutely no chance of someone reading it helps me go deeper and be more honest with myself. If you want to hear more about how I processed some of my old trauma check out the podcast episode below. 


Shift Beliefs

I find examing my beliefs to be really helpful. I often find that I pickup limiting beliefs or start telling myself negative stories about experiences that I will then start to internalize as truth.

Examining my beliefs gives me the chance to be aware of any negative thoughts or beliefs that are coming up for me and to start to shift them. It’s been really empowering for me to realize that I get to CHOOSE what I believe. I can’t control what happens to me by I CAN control how I choose to view situations and experiences. 

If I am having a lot of resistance or negativity about a specific situation I will try to shift my beliefs around it. Here are some journal prompts you can use to start changing your beliefs.

  • Is this belief a scientific or indisputable fact?
  • What would feel better to believe instead?
  • How can I see this situation better?
  • How has this situation and experience ultimately worked for my good?
  • What lessons have I learned from this? 
  • What is the most empowering story I could tell about this?

mental health journaling

Check In With Yourself

I don’t know about you but I spend a lot of time trying to get all the things done that I need to do and can get very distracted and disconnected from how I feel. Journaling is a chance for me to check in with myself and an opportunity to get to know myself on a deeper level. 

If I didn’t journal I would probably fail to take the time to process my feelings or to even be aware of how I felt. I often do a guided meditation before I journal or I will put my hand on my heart and take a few deep breaths. I really try to center myself before I journal and tap into my deepest and most authentic self. 

This process has really made me more aware of my feelings and helped me to really get to know myself.

Brain Dump

I have a new idea every three minutes. Being in my brain can be really fun and exciting but it can also be very stressful and overwhelming. 

I always have a lot going on in my life and I feel like I’m constantly trying to juggle everything. Doing a daily brain dump helps me get all the things going on in my mind down on paper. To do a brain dump just set a timer for five or ten minutes and free write anything that comes to mind. 

This is your chance to spew out anything you’ve had bouncing around in your brain. I find that this practice really helps me find some peace and quiets down some of the chatter in my brain. I often do this exercise in the morning as part of my morning pages practice

Discover Answers

Whenever I have a decision to make the first thing I do is write in my journal. I’ve really tried to break the habit of asking other people what I should do in certain situations.

I try to get quite and tap into what my heart and soul are telling me to do. I firmly believe you are the expert in your own life. No one else can know your thoughts, feelings, and experiences the way you do. I used to always ask other people what they thought I should do. 

Decision making made me feel disconnected and I was always searching for an external decision maker. Really this just came down to the fact that I didn’t trust myself or know how to tap into my own intuition and desires. 

If you have a decision to make sit down with your journal and challenge yourself to write in depth about the choices in front of you and how you feel about all of them. Examine where those feelings are coming and really dig in deep. I’ve found that when I sit down with my journal I can usually figure out the answers to any questions that I have. 

mental health journaling

Design Your Dream Life

This has been a huge one for me. I really like to script what I want my dream life to look like. I will write out exactly how I want to feel and what I want to have accomplished a year from now, five years from now or ten years from now. 

Getting clear on my dream life helps me set my goals and make sure I’m on track to go where I truly want to go. It’s so easy to get sidetracked and blown off course writing about your dreams and vision for your life will help you stay on course. 

Make a bucket list, write out what your dream vacation would be like and give yourself the freedom to dream big. My favorite part about this exercise is that I give myself permission to believe anything is possible and to dream as big as I possibly can. Too often our brain limits us and trys to tell us our dreams are too big. This is an exercise in expanding what you believe is possible for your life. 

This exercise has inspired me to craft a bigger bolder vision for my life and to go after really big dreams. If I hadn’t designed my dream life I never would have even thought about setting some of the big goals I have now. 

Want to remember these tips? Save this article to your favorite Pinterest board!

mental health journal guide

For more tips on using journal prompts to manage depression check out this article

This blog post is sponsored by BetterHelp, but all opinions are my own. As a BetterHelp affiliate, we may receive compensation from BetterHelp if you purchase products or services through the links provided. I am not a licensed therapist or mental health professional. If you are suffering from a major disorder and need treatment please seek the help of a professional. If you need help finding a mental health care provider call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit BetterHelp to talk to a certified therapist online at an affordable price. This post contains affiliate links, you can read my full disclosure policy here.

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