In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, with the stress of to-do lists, busy schedules and social media, finding moments of stillness and presence is a serious challenge.
But, at the same time, the benefits of mindfulness practices are no joke! So prioritising these moments of calm needs to be at the top of our never-ending-to-do-list, if you ask me.
Thankfully, a simple practice that’s a great way to bring mindfulness into our lives is mindfulness journaling, with mindfulness journal prompts offering an easy shortcut to exercising that mindful muscle, no matter how busy we are.
Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword nowadays but, honestly, I’m not too mad about it.
The benefits of being mindful are so huge for our mental, emotional and physical health that I think bringing awareness to it could never be a bad thing.
There are many many ways to be mindful. Whether it’s meditating like a zen monk or doing breathwork, mindfulness techniques literally have the potential to rewire our brains and nervous systems’ to be less stressed and more regulated so we can feel more inner peace.
A particularly beneficial mindfulness practice, that you may or may not have heard of, is mindfulness journaling.
In this post I’ll be giving you the ins and outs of mindfulness journaling and how you can incorporate this into your own life to experience these juicy mindfulness benefits.
I’ll also be offering you some incredibly powerful mindfulness journal prompts to help you get started with this practice right away.
So, with that being said, let’s get started.
This post may contain affiliate links. Click here to read my full disclosure.
What is mindfulness journaling?
First things first, what is mindfulness journaling?
It’s actually very simple – you take mindfulness, and you take journaling, and you schmush them together.
But let’s break that down a bit further…
Mindfulness itself is a state or practice of being fully present in the moment (the here and now) without judgement. Otherwise known as non-judgemental awareness.
Journaling, on the other hand, is a practice of writing down your inner experience such as your thoughts, feelings and emotions.
Mindfulness journaling is therefore a practice that combines both of these individual practices and can be summed up as writing in your journal with a focus on being mindful and present. Think of it like a form of meditative journaling.
The difference between mindfulness journaling and regular journaling
But how does this differ from standard journaling you may ask?
Well, a regular journaling practice is beneficial in itself, but depending on how you go about it, it isn’t always mindful.
For example, popular journal practices like free writing, or JournalSpeak for chronic pain, are designed to almost blurt your inner experiences onto the page without really thinking about them at all.
The intention of these practices are to access your subconscious. Therefore, very little awareness is often present while actually writing.
And, on the flip side, if you’re just practising journaling without mindfulness, you might find that judgemental thoughts about your inner experience come up that get in the way of you writing freely, affecting your ability to truly express yourself.
If we think of these journal practices as two extremes, mindfulness journaling sits somewhere in the middle – it aims to release your inner experiences onto the page while also being aware at the same time.
Powerful mindful journaling benefits
With this style of journaling comes many benefits.
Remember, mindfulness and journal writing alone are both powerful tools. So when you combine the benefits of journaling with the benefits of mindfulness, consider them an absolute powerhouse!
Here are some key mindful journaling benefits that might persuade you to take up this practice:
- Stress reduction: mindfulness journaling can help you to offload the things that are contributing to your stress levels, and bring attention to your thoughts and emotions in a safe and non judgemental way, reducing overwhelm and stress and improving your overall wellbeing.
- More self-awareness: regular journaling encourages introspection, which can help you to become more aware of your inner workings. This understanding can help you to make positive changes in your life and make sense of your own experience better.
- Emotional regulation: mindfulness and journaling are both beneficial practices for improving the capacity to regulate emotions. In fact, studies have even shown that mindfulness physically changes the brain in as little as 8 weeks, in a way that is suggestive of better emotional regulation!
- Improved focus and concentration: training your “mindfulness muscle” through mindfulness journaling (or any other mindfulness practice) can improve your ability to focus and concentrate in other areas of your life over time.
- Reduced rumination: expressive writing can help to reduce negative rumination, which left unchecked can contribute to poor mental health, distress and depressive symptoms.
- Improved sleep: writing about your thoughts and worries, especially before bedtime, can help you to process them and may even help you fall asleep faster.
- Personal growth: by being more mindful with our thoughts, emotions and behaviours, and reflecting on our past, we are more capable of growing and stepping towards the sort of person we want to become.
How to practise mindfulness journaling
So if mindfulness journaling is a practice that aims for you to freely express yourself on the page, while also being mindfully present, how can we put that into action?
Here are a few important characteristics of mindfulness journaling that will help you get started.
1. Create a quiet mindful space
Mindfulness journaling begins with a mindful space.
Before you get started, ensure that you have access to a quiet and comfortable space where you won’t be disturbed or easily distracted.
If you can, try to incorporate some different senses into your space too.
Activating your different senses in this way can help you to access that “mindfulness muscle” more easily, especially when you’re first starting out (more on this in a moment).
2. Set an intention
Unlike a regular journaling practice, where you might just sit down and write whatever comes to mind, you want to begin mindfulness journaling by setting an intention.
Take some time to consider why you’re sitting down to practise today, and what do you want to embody while you journal?
For example, your intention could be to explore self-compassion, reduce perfectionism, or to take some time for yourself.
Remember: there is no right or wrong here – this is your practice.
3. Breathe and ground yourself
Before you start writing, take 1-5 minutes breathing and grounding yourself in this present moment.
Start by taking a few deep breaths to centre yourself, and then focus on your senses – what you see, hear, feel, smell, and even taste.
No need to describe at this stage, just tune in and notice.
(As we touched on when setting up our space, having specific items in our environment can make this part of the practice easier!)
4. Write with awareness
Once you’ve grounded yourself in the present moment, it’s time to start mindful writing.
Pick a prompt from the mindfulness journal prompts list in this post, or simply write about your current experience.
The key is to describe feelings, emotions, sensations, experiences etc. with mindful awareness and zero judgement.
Notice when you get distracted or a judgemental thought pops up, and gently redirect yourself to the prompt.
Or, if you prefer, you can write about these distractions too.
For example, you might write something like “a thought just popped into my head that I’m not doing this right and it feels stupid. I’m noticing an urge to stop writing.”
Do you see how there’s no judgement in that sentence? No arguing with the thought or the urge, just noticing.
5. Savour the process
One thing I’ve noticed about certain journal techniques, like free writing or JournalSpeak which I mentioned earlier, is that they can often become quite intense and emotionally charged and therefore, sometimes, rushed.
In mindfulness journaling, on the other hand, you want to savour the process.
Really take your time while journaling.
In fact, actually allow yourself to fully engage and become aware of the writing process, noticing your pen on the page as you write. Slow everything down and make writing mindful in itself.
6. Reflect on the entry
This is another key part of mindfulness journaling that sets it apart from other practices.
Some journaling practices, particularly ones focused on emotional release, offer a kind of set-it-and-forget-it approach. You might even tear the page up and discard it once you’ve finished writing.
There is absolutely a time and a place for this style of journaling, but mindfulness journaling isn’t it.
With mindfulness journaling, every step of the process is an opportunity to continue to be mindful. And this includes reflecting on the process and the entry.
Take some time after writing to slowly read back your journal entry and notice what comes up now.
Do any thoughts and feelings come into your awareness that you might not have noticed before?
Look at the page itself. Notice what your writing looks like.
Maybe your handwriting even changes when you talk about certain emotions?
And take some time to reflect on how you feel now you have done the practice.
Has anything changed? Is there any part of today’s practice that you can carry into the rest of your day?
7. Be consistent
As with any other beneficial practice, consistency is key.
If you can, try to incorporate mindfulness journaling into your regular routine to see the best results.
I personally like to journal first thing in the morning when I feel like more of a “blank slate”, but any time of day that you can make space to take time for you is amazing.
This is also a particularly beneficial practice to turn to in times of need, such as when you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed or in need of slowing down.
51 powerful mindfulness journal prompts for self awareness
So, now that you know some of the key benefits of mindfulness journaling and how to do this practice, let’s look at some of the best mindfulness journal prompts to get you started.
I’ve separated these mindfulness journal prompts into key categories to make it easier for you to select a prompt that aligns with your intention for the practice.
In this list you’ll find mindfulness journal prompts for emotions and feelings, for cultivating gratitude and positivity, for using your senses, for improving self-compassion and acceptance, for reflecting on your relationships, for observing your thought patterns, and for setting mindful intentions.
So, with that being said, here are 51 simple prompts to bring more mindfulness into your life.
Mindfulness journal prompts for emotions and feelings
Use these mindful journaling prompts to bring non judgemental awareness to your emotions and feelings.
- Present emotions: Notice the emotions arising in you in the here and now. Describe the emotions without judgement. Where do you feel them in your body? How do they affect your thoughts and behaviour at this moment?
- Emotional triggers: Reflect on a recent situation that triggered a strong emotional response. What was the situation? What did the emotions feel like? In what situations have you felt similarly? How can you approach similar situations with more mindfulness and emotional awareness in the future?
- Embracing difficult emotions: Identify an emotion that you often find challenging or uncomfortable (e.g. anger, sadness, anxiety.) Sit with it mindfully. Describe the sensation in detail without trying to change it. Notice how your body feels. Where do you feel it in your body?
- Emotional release: Set an intention to work with an emotion that you’ve been keeping pushed down. Write a compassionate letter yourself, allowing this emotion to be freely expressed. Notice if there is any urge to self-censor and gently return to the practice. Take some time to notice how you feel after this emotion has been expressed.
- Cultivating joy: Reflect on a place, person, situation or thing that brings up feelings of joy. Write about it in detail and take time to savour the feelings and sensation it evokes within you. How can you cultivate more joy in your life going forward?
- Practising contentment: Write about how it feels to be content. What does contentment mean to you? How do you know when you feel contentment? How can you bring more contentment into your life going forward?
- Emotional body: Tune in and notice what part of your body is calling your attention. Write about the sensations in this body part, and then ask yourself – What emotion is behind this? What is this body part trying to communicate with you? Write about the emotion in detail and anything else that comes up.
Mindfulness prompts for cultivating gratitude and positivity
Use these gratitude journaling prompts to bring more attention to the positive moments in your life and express gratitude more freely.
- Gratitude list: List five things you are grateful for in your life right now. Write about how these things positively affect your life and why you are grateful for them. Write about how this gratitude feels.
- Mindful moments: Recall a recent instance where you experienced joy, beauty or kindness. Go into detail about this moment, involving your senses. Reflect on how recalling this moment makes you feel in the present moment.
- Acts of kindness: Reflect on a moment in your life where you have given or received an act of kindness. How did this moment make you feel? How can you incorporate more kindness into your life?
- Challenges and lessons: Reflect on a difficult or challenging situation in your life, but from the perspective of what lessons you learned from it. How did this experience help you grow? Can you find any gratitude for this situation now that you’re on the other side of it?
- Positive affirmations: Create a list of positive affirmations that resonate with you. How do these affirmations make you feel? In what situations would these affirmations be useful?
- Daily positivity: At the end of the day, reflect on the positive aspects of your day. How did these positive moments feel? How can you bring more positivity into tomorrow?
Mindfulness journal prompts using your senses
Use these mindfulness writing prompts to awaken your senses, to help ground you in the present moment.
- Sight: Describe three things you can see around you in intricate detail. What are their colours, shapes, and textures? How does looking at these things make you feel?
- Sound: Listen to the sounds around you and notice any distinct sounds that stand out. Describe each sound and explore its tone and rhythm. How does listening to these sounds make you feel?
- Touch: Place your hands on a textured surface or hold an object in your hand. Or, feel your clothes against your skin. How does it feel? What is its temperature? Are there any emotions that arise as you notice any sensations?
- Taste: Choose a small piece of food, like a piece of fruit or some chocolate. Practise mindful eating, chewing it slowly and mindfully, savouring each moment. Describe the flavours you experience. How does it make you feel?
- Smell: Locate something with a pleasant smell, like an essential oil or a flower. Slowly and deeply inhale its scent. Describe how it smells. What does it remind you of? How does it make you feel?
- Breathing: Pay attention to your breathing without trying to change it. What do you notice? Where do you feel your breath in your body? What is its rhythm? What thoughts/feelings/sensations come up as you observe your breathing?
- Mindful walk: Take a slow and mindful walk outdoors, noticing your surroundings and your senses. When you return, take some time to write about your experience. What stood out to you on your walk? Did any thoughts or feelings arise?
- Mundane activity: Describe a simple, mundane activity such as washing dishes or doing laundry, and describe it in intricate detail. Include all of your senses.
Mindfulness journal prompts for self compassion and acceptance
Use these mindfulness prompts to bring more acceptance and self compassion into your being.
- Compassionate letter: Write a letter to a version of yourself going through a challenging time, from the perspective of a kind observer. What do you want this part of you to know? How do you feel about them?
- Flaws list: Make a list of your perceived weaknesses or flaws. How can you embrace these parts of yourself with self-acceptance?
- Daily self-compassion: Reflect on your relationship with self-compassion and self care in your daily life. Are there any areas where you can make more room for these things?
- Self-criticism: Pay attention to any self-critical thoughts that come up throughout the day. Write them down. Then write a response to each one from the perspective of your compassionate self.
- Self-kindness: How can you be kinder to yourself on a daily basis? Are there any words of encouragement you want yourself to hear?
- Compassion for the past: Reflect on a regret or mistake from your past. Write a letter to your past self, offering compassion and understanding for their circumstances. How can you release the resentment and self-blame regarding this choice?
Mindfulness prompts to reflect on relationships
Use these mindfulness journaling prompts to mindfully reflect on the relationships in your life.
- Relationship values: Describe your biggest values when it comes to relationships. Do the relationships in your life align with these values? Are there any imbalances that need addressing?
- Relationship boundaries: Describe your relationship with boundaries. Are there any boundaries that need to be set in your relationships? Which relationships have a good balance of healthy boundaries and which don’t?
- Mindfulness in relationships: Are you present in your relationships? Describe, without judgement, your relationship with mindfulness with others. How can you bring mindfulness into your relationships?
- Gratitude for relationships: Think about your closest relationships, like a romantic partner or a best friend. What qualities of these relationships are you grateful for? How do they support you? Reflect on what specifically you appreciate about each person and your relationship with them.
- Communication: Think about a close relationship in your life. What does your communication with this person look like? Are there any ways that communication could be improved?
- Conflict in relationships: Think about the last time you had a conflict or disagreement with somebody close to you. How did you feel at that moment? How do you imagine the other person might have felt?
- Nurturing connections: Imagine the ideal way that you want to connect with others. How can you nurture these connections? How can you have more mindful and meaningful interactions with them?
Mindfulness journal prompts to observe thought patterns
Use these mindful journal prompts to bring non-judgemental awareness to your thought patterns.
- Negative automatic thoughts: Are there any recurring negative thoughts that pop up in your life? In what areas of your life do these thoughts seem to pop up? How do they make you feel?
- Limiting beliefs: What beliefs do you hold about yourself and the world that do not serve your growth? How do these beliefs hold you back? How does this make you feel?
- Growth mindset: Describe a situation where you have had a growth mindset rather than a fixed mindset. How did this mindset shift change your thoughts and your behaviour?
- Noticing thought patterns: Take a few minutes to sit and observe your thoughts as they arise. Write about the thoughts that you noticed. Are they positive, negative, neutral? How do they make you feel?
- Overthinking: Reflect on moments when you have a tendency to overthink. How does overthinking or ruminating affect your emotions? What things help you return to the present moment during these times?
- Detaching from thoughts: Practise observing your thoughts and detaching from them. Imagine them as passing clouds in the sky, or leaves floating along a mirror. Write about this experience. Did this change the impact of your thoughts on you in any way?
- Words on a page: Notice any critical thoughts that come up during the day and write them on the page. Experiment with writing them in different fonts and colours. Try distorting the letters and jumbling them up. What did you notice? Did this change the impact of the thoughts in any way?
- Beginner’s mind: Approach a familiar activity or situation but imagine coming into it with a beginner’s mind, as if you’re experiencing it for the first time. Write about how this changes your experience. What thoughts came up in this different mindset?
Mindfulness journal prompts for setting intentions
Use these mindfulness prompts to explore your intentions, life goals and values.
- Values and priorities: Write a list of the values that are important to you in life, then pick the three that are most essential. How do different areas of your life (e.g. relationships, work, health) align with these values? What might bring these areas more into alignment?
- Long term goals: Write about your long term goals and reflect on how they align with your values. How do these goals make you feel? Do they feel aligned and achievable? If not, why not?
- Long term vision: Write about your long term vision in detail. What does your future self look like? What intentions can you set now to bring yourself closer to this version of yourself?
- Short term intentions: Set a specific, short term intention for the day or week. Write about how you plan to embody this intention mindfully. Afterwards, reflect on how setting this intention affected your thoughts and behaviour.
- Actionable steps: Reflect on your goals. Are there any ways that they can be broken down into smaller, more actionable steps? How does breaking down these goals make you feel?
- Releasing expectations: Reflect on any expectations and attachments you might have regarding the outcome of your goals and intentions. How can you incorporate more mindfulness and acceptance at every stage of the process? How does letting go of expectations affect you?
- Self-belief: Reflect on your goals and your beliefs around achieving them. Are there any self-doubts or negative thoughts that arise when you consider your dreams? Are there any thoughts or beliefs that are supportive?
- To-do list: At the end of the day, make a mindful list of everything you want to do the next day. Reflect on how this makes you feel. Do you feel lighter or heavier?
- Mindful reflection: Reflect on your life. What areas might benefit from more mindfulness and intention? How might setting intentions in these areas help you align with your values and goals?
Mindfulness Journaling Books to Go Deeper
So, as you hopefully now know, mindfulness journaling has the potential to help you live a more grounded, introspective and self-aware life. It’s not just a trend!
Whether you’re new to mindfulness or a mindful pro, I hope that these mindfulness journal prompts support you on your journey and help you find more calm in your life.
Liked this post on mindfulness journal prompts? Check out some of these related posts:
- 28 Unique Meditation Gifts for Mindfulness
- The 39 Most Relaxing Hobbies for Stress to Try in 2023
- 30 Days of Gratitude Journal Prompts
And don’t forget to pin this post for later!
Esther is the founder of Through the Phases. Her mission is to help other women to cultivate self-awareness and find what lights them up, so that they can more easily navigate the stressors of life! She does this through sharing healthy mind/body/soul practices and habits. Read more about her story here.