I know what it’s like to feel trapped in depression. Once you’re in a rut it can feel incredibly difficult, or even impossible, to get out of it. Thankfully, among other practices such as yoga and meditation, journaling is a tool that really helps me when I feel stuck in that low mood. It helps me to express my feelings and gain perspective through self-reflection, which lessens the power my emotions have over me.
But I equally understand how depression can affect your ability to perform acts of self care such as this one. When motivation is low and thoughts are cloudy, thinking about what to write and actually writing it can be a struggle. At times like this, it can be helpful to have a list of journal prompts for depression at hand. They make journaling so much easier and more rewarding – trust me!
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Benefits of journaling for depression
Your journal is an outlet to share your feelings
As these mental health bloggers will tell you, sharing your feelings is a very important part of mental health recovery. But unfortunately, with the isolating nature of depression, sharing our feelings can be hard for some of us. If you feel unable to share your struggles with a friend or family member, share them with your journal instead.
Releases the power of our thoughts
Writing our thoughts down can help to release the hold they have over us. Once they are out of our heads and on a page instead, they just don’t feel as meaningful. If you want even more of an emotional release you can try ripping up whatever you write down!
Helps us learn our triggers and patterns
This is one of my favourite benefits of journaling for depression – keeping a written account of our thoughts and feelings allows us to self reflect and identify patterns in our emotions and behaviours over time. Journaling is single handedly the most powerful tool for getting to know yourself – if you feel lost in your emotions and don’t know why you feel the way you feel, pick up your journal and a pen and get writing!
Related: Journal Prompts for Self Discovery
Helps us find solutions
When our thoughts and feelings are overwhelming it can feel like there is no way out of them. But as we write about them, it can be surprising how easily we are able to come up with our own solutions. That is because writing allows our mind to flow more freely and we get caught up less in negative thoughts. Depression writing prompts help with this even more because they prompt us to think outside of our typical thinking patterns.
How to start journaling for depression
There really is no right or wrong way to start your depression journal. The most important thing is that you start.
If you still feel stuck, you can check out my guide on how to start a journal.
Journal prompts for depression
- List 3 things that you love about yourself
- Talk about a difficult time in your life that you managed to overcome
- Share a favourite quote and how it inspires you
- What did you achieve today?
- Talk about a happy memory
- Describe your biggest accomplishment in life so far
- What was your biggest failure in life and what did you learn from it?
- How do you think depression holds you back in life?
- Name 3 songs that help to lift your mood when you feel low
- Describe your “perfect” day – what would you do and who would you do it with?
- Write a thank you letter to your body
- Write down the things that you know trigger your depression, and which strategies help each of them
- Talk about a person you aspire to be like and why
- If you knew you could not fail, what is one thing you would do with your life?
- What would you like your life to look like in 5, 10 and 20 years? What steps can you take to get there?
- What is the biggest challenge you are facing in your life right now?
- What do you wish more people knew about you and why?
- Name 5 things you are grateful for
- Write a letter to somebody who wronged you. Explain how it made you feel and practice forgiving them and letting it go
- What are your greatest qualities?
- Write down three things you want to read back when things get hard
- Name something you are looking forward to: this week, this month and this year
- What does self care mean to you? What are your favourite ways to practice self care?
- Write a letter to your younger self. What would they need to hear from you?
- Write a list of things that are holding you back from your goals. How can you overcome them?
- Describe a situation where you cared for someone else. How did it make you feel?
- If you could spend time with someone, living or dead, from your past – What would you do? What would you say? Why?
- Rate your current mental health on a scale of 1-10. Why do you think it is this way?
- What is something your depression has taught you that you might not otherwise know?
- What trait do you admire in others? Talk about the ways in which you see this trait in yourself
- Talk about your most meaningful friendship
- What made you happy today?
- How would you describe yourself to a stranger?
- What was the best compliment you ever received? Do you agree – why?
I hope these journal prompts for depression are enough to get you started with journaling for mental health. If you need more writing ideas, you can try these gratitude journal prompts, which are designed to help switch your mindset from negative to positive!
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Esther Cundall is a psychology graduate and certified yoga teacher. She is the founder of the blog Through the Phases, and author of the Breakthrough Manifestation Workbook. Her mission is to guide others to grow to their fullest potential and create their dream life using spiritual and personal growth practices.