Journaling is having a moment I think, and for good reason. There are so many extraordinary benefits if you’re open to trying it – and I guarantee that once you give it a shot you’ll buy into it too. The trickiest aspect is getting started with journaling, and knowing what to write. For this reason journal prompts are invaluable; prompts for journaling provide focus, and give you a specific topic to direct your attention to.
A blank page is so inviting, but it can also be quite overwhelming.
A myriad of options can have the opposite effect to what we might hope – it can paralyse us with indecision. That’s why having journaling prompts to work from is hugely beneficial, especially when you’re new to journaling.
Why Am I Such an Advocate of Journaling?
Journaling has been a huge part of my life over the last few years – I even created a journal during lockdown. It features lots of prompts and other activities, and it’s available to purchase as a hard copy (including gifts!), or as printables:
Build Your Own My Positivity Project (Printables)
I attribute it to the success I’ve had in changing my default mindset from negative to a more positive one:
Journaling has the power to rewire your brain if you let it.
For me personally, journaling is synonymous with writing gratitude lists, and really it’s the gratitude aspect that has been so beneficial to my own journey. Why? Because gratitude trains your brain to appreciate the good in your life and seek the positive in all situations rather than focusing on the negatives.
After all, we all have both light and shade in our lives, and mindset is the only real difference between a positive and fulfilled person versus a negative one who feels hard done by:
Reframing is literally what separates two people in the same difficult circumstances.
And if it doesn’t come naturally to you, you can practice until it does! That’s the reason other types of journaling also have their place alongside writing gratitude lists. Combining gratitude with other kinds of prompts can help you to:
- Identify feelings,
- Aid awareness and reflection of your thought processes and triggers,
- Analyse thoughts and feelings,
- Process feelings,
- Increase gratitude and positivity,
- Identify and challenge negative thought patterns,
- better understand yourself.
And so many more that I can’t list them all here! But if you’re interested in reading more, I’ve written another post covering more of the reasons that mindful journaling for mental health is such an excellent tool.
How to Use Journal Prompts to Set a Journaling Routine
Hopefully you’re now convinced to give journaling a try, and below you’ll find 99 prompts to get you started. But of course a list this long can still be a little overwhelming, so what’s the best way to use these prompts?
You could just work your way through, one by one. But what I like to do is create myself a sort of ‘reverse happy jar’.
If you’re not familiar with the concept of a happy jar is, it’s where you fill a jar across the course of a year with little notes detailing happy memories:
In contrast, my reverse happy jar, or journal jar, is where I create a jar of journal prompts – often focusing on a past experience (but not always) – and take one out each day to use as inspiration for journaling.
I call it a reverse happy jar because one is filling the jar with memories, and the other is taking the memories (or prompts for memories) out of the jar. Plus, the first is for happy memories only, and a journal jar often contains some less pleasant memories too. The concept centres around the idea that revisiting and analysing any residual bad feelings attached to the memory allows you to process the emotions so you can move on in a healthy way.
Here are the instructions to create your own…
How to Make a Journal Jar
- Find a mason jar or similar, ideally something you find attractive or that you can decorate.
- Print out the list of prompts below and cut them up.
- Fold each prompt and pop it in the jar.
- Hey presto – you have a journal jar.
And if you’re worried about finding the time for journaling, consider it an investment in your wellbeing.
As far as I’m concerned, journaling regularly is a form of self-care and therapy. Its value cannot be overstated.
Ready to make your journal jar and start a fantastic new hobby? Here’s your list – enough to keep you going for more than three months if you commit to journaling every day, or six months every other day.
Journal Jar Prompts to Download and Print
At the bottom of the post you’ll also find two downloadable PDFs. One contains a pretty list of the journal jar questions for you to print out and work through, and the other contains journal jar printables – the same prompts, but in a format for you to more easily cut up, fold, and place in a journal jar.
99 Prompts For Journaling to Inspire You
As you become more confident in the process of journaling, you may find you come up with your own ideas, and of course that’s totally fine and an achievement in itself. In the meantime, I’ve put together a list of 99 journal prompts to – hopefully – inspire you to get creative…
- Where do you see yourself in 5 years? How can you start working towards that goal?
- What do you wish you’d achieved in your life that you think is unlikely to happen at this point? What can you do to make that goal a reality? Write a five point plan.
- What things are holding you back from the life you want? What can you change?
- Of the things you cannot change, how can you reframe for a more positive perspective?
- What subjects do you wish you’d studied or skills do you wish you’d learned? Why? How might you be able to make time for these in your life?
- Are you happy in your work/homemaking situation? What would you like to be different? Write a five point plan to work towards that goal.
- What room/s do you most love in your home? Why? How can you replicate that in other areas of your home?
- Which room/s do you not like in your home? How could you improve them?
- Who are you grateful for in your life? Why?
- Write letters to the people you love telling them why you value them.
- What unexpected things have people done for you that you’re grateful and will always remember?
- Who in your life needs help right now? What can you do to assist them?
- Which people in your life are draining you? How can you minimise contact with them?
- Who do you respect/admire that is on the peripherally of your life? How could you reach out to them to instigate a friendship?
- How would you describe your style? Does it make you happy? How could you update your wardrobe to bring you more joy?
- List the songs that give you goosebumps. Think about the lyrics; how do they make you feel?
- Who do you envy? What about them do you envy? Try reframing and consider how the things they have may be both a blessing and a curse to them.
- What things might the people you envy, envy about you?
- What are your greatest regrets? Try reframing and write down the positives those things have brought you.
- Who are the most important people in your life? Why are they special? How can you let them know how valued they are?
- Write a bucket list of places you’d like to visit.
- Write down your most incredible memories. Look for patterns as to the things that matter most to you. How can you make space for more of this in your life?
- What conversations do you wish you could have but have held back from? Why is this? Write letters to those people telling them the things you’d like to say.
- What challenges have you recently overcome that you should recognise and be proud of yourself for?
- What does your dream life look like? Who is there? Where do you live? What do you do? What have you accomplished?
- What are your favourite colours? Do you own clothing in those colours? If not, why?
- Who would you invite to your perfect dinner party? What would you talk about with them?
- What would the perfect afterlife look like to you, if such a thing were to exist?
- What songs exhilarate and motivate you? Make a playlist of your favourites.
- If money were no object, what would you do for the people you love most in your life?
- Write down five ideas for a random act of kindness you could do for somebody today.
- What does your ultimate self-care ritual look like? How can you make this a reality every week/month?
- Write a letter to your younger self.
- If you won the lottery, how would you spend the money?
- How do you feel about your body? What aspects do you dislike? Try reframing by listing how your body serves you. Consider the hobbies your body allows you to enjoy, the various types of pleasure you experience with your body, the illnesses you’ve overcome, the children you’ve created and nurtured.
- What things bring you most joy in your life? Brainstorm ways you might be able to monetise those passions or hobbies.
- What/whose fashion style do you admire? How could you work some pieces into your own wardrobe?
- Describe your ideal home in detail, how it looks, feels, smells; where it’s located; the temperature; the house, the garden, the people you live with, etc.
- What traits do you most admire in others? Do you consider yourself to possess these traits?
- What are you most proud of in your life?
- How are/were your relationships with your parents? What things would you like to tell them? Write them letters. (This works even if they’re no longer living/in your life; go with it – you don’t have to do anything with the letters you write, they’re just for you.)
- What things make you nervous or anxious, but you’d really like to overcome? How could you fit more of those things into your life in order to combat that fear?
- What things have been on your to-do list forever? Why are you putting off doing them? How important are they?
- What things are triggering for you? Why? How can you start to make peace with those things? (Consider therapy if necessary.)
- What’s the single most important piece of advice you’d give to your younger self?
- Keeping in mind the blurbs found on shopping websites, write an in-depth description promoting all the best qualities of…you.
- What exercises bring you joy? Do you practice them often? How might you make them more of a priority in your life?
- What does your perfect day look like? Describe it from the moment you open your eyes to the moment you close them.
- What songs/music never fail to bring you joy/relax you? Make a playlist for when you’re next feeling anxious.
- What things do you find difficult but you wish you could do without trying? How can you practice/improve?
- How could you improve your life today?
- How could you improve your life this week?
- How could you improve life this year?
- What has been your favourite age? Why? How can you replicate that joy?
- How could you be a better parent/daughter/friend?
- Who do you owe an apology to? Write them a letter. If you’re feeling brave, send it.
- Who do you struggle to forgive? How did they hurt you? Write down how you feel about the situation today. Then write down how letting go of the hurt could make you feel.
- Brainstorm what things could improve your community? How could you help to implement these initiatives?
- Think about body image, breastfeeding, race, gender, equality, feminism, age. What are your cultural beliefs? Do they align with your personal values?
- How do you feel about your childhood? Is there anything you wish had been different?
- How do you feel your childhood has affected you as an adult?
- What is your favourite quote? Why?
- What are your core values? Why are they important to you?
- Think about the biggest challenges in your life. What lessons have they taught you?
- What things do you need in your life? What could you do without? What do you need more of?
- Who would you love to spend more time with? How can you make space in your life and theirs to make it happen?
- What are your favourite traits about yourself?
- What qualities do you consider to be most important in a friendship or relationship?
- Write a bucket list of things you’d like to achieve in your life time.
- Now write a bucket list of things you have already achieved that you found exhilarating or are proud of.
- What qualities would you most hope to pass on to your children?
- At the end of your life, how would you like to be remembered? How can you work towards shaping your life around this vision?
- Write a list of affirmations you live your life by or aspire to.
- Visualise your perfect relationship with your child/ren as adults. Are you parenting them in a way that makes that vision feel realistic? What might you do differently to foster that connection?
- What comeback do you wish you’d made to somebody during a conflict? Write it down, and then let it go.
- What things bring you most peace? How can you make more space in your life for them?
- What are your favourite colours? Where are they in your home? How/where could you incorporate more of them into your space?
- What relationships are missing from your life? Where/how might you fill this gap?
- What hobby has always intrigued you but you’ve never been brave enough/got around to trying? Research it and make a five point plan to make it happen in the next six months.
- Write a list of compliments you’ve thought about people, but have been too shy to say. Plan to tell them when you next see them – nobody has ever rebuffed a compliment!
- What could you change to make your life feel easier and less hectic?
- Who has slipped out of your life without good reason that you’d love to reconnect with? Write to them!
- What have been your favourite books you’ve ever read? Plan to re-read them!
- Who do you love, but haven’t told lately? Why is that? Could you plan to tell them when you see them next?
- How could you improve your bedtime routine for a more restful night?
- What do you need to forgive yourself for? Write it down on scrap paper, and then say out loud ‘I forgive myself’, and throw it away.
- What sparks joy for you? What inspires you?
- Make a gratitude list. Start with three things. See if you can increase it to five. Now try ten. Do this each day, even if it’s only in your head. Gratitude is incredibly powerful and the path to a more content and fulfilled life!
- What are your favourite flowers? Plan out your perfect garden, featuring your most loved plants and colours. Then do some research and see if you can make it happen!
- Which relationships that have gone from your life have you struggled to let go of? Why do you think that is? What lessons have they taught you?
- How have you grown and evolved as a person in the last ten years?
- How could you be a kinder person?
- How do you feel right now? How could you improve your mood?
- Who has been the biggest influence on your life? Have they had a positive or negative effect? What lessons have they taught you?
- Describe yourself in a single sentence, as accurately as possible. Now appraise that sentence. How could you improve it, either by altering the sentence if you’ve not been kind yourself(!) or by making changes in your life?
- What’s ‘your song’? Why? How does it make you feel?
- Which school teacher had the greatest impact on you? What would you like to say to them today?
- What’s your favourite season? Why?
- Tune in to the present moment. What can you see, hear, smell? How could you make this space more tranquil? (Perhaps by introducing soft furnishings in calming colours, scented candles, etc.)
Journaling Prompts PDF Printables
You can use any notepad and pen for journaling, but if you plan to keep it up then why not treat yourself to something pretty? You might also be interested in the journal I created during lockdown which includes a selection of different prompts, as well as lots of other activities:
Build Your Own My Positivity Project (Printables)
I hope these suggestions are useful and encourage you to get started with your own journal jar prompts!