110 Effective Journal Prompts For Overcoming Depression

Last Updated on April 4, 2024

Depression can be a dark and overwhelming experience that can leave you feeling stuck and alone

As someone who has struggled with depression myself, I know how difficult it can be to find a way out of the darkness. 

Over the years, I have found that journaling can be a powerful tool in managing my depression and finding a way forward.

Journaling allows me to express my thoughts and feelings in a safe and non-judgmental space. 

It helps me gain clarity and insight into my emotions and behaviors, and it allows me to process difficult experiences and find new perspectives.

One of the most helpful aspects of journaling for me has been using prompts to guide my writing. 

Journal prompts are specific questions or prompts that are designed to help you explore a particular topic or theme. 

They can be a helpful way to get started with writing and to uncover insights and emotions that you may not have been aware of before.

For people with depression, journal prompts can be a particularly helpful tool. 

They can help you explore difficult emotions and experiences, identify patterns and triggers, and develop coping strategies. 

They can also be a way to cultivate self-compassion and gratitude, which can be challenging when you are in the midst of depression.

In this article, I will share some of my favorite journal prompts for depression

These prompts are designed to help you explore your emotions, gain perspective, and cultivate self-compassion. 

Whether you are new to journaling or a seasoned writer, I hope that these prompts will be a helpful tool in your journey towards healing and growth.

The most important thing is to approach journaling with a spirit of curiosity and self-compassion. 

Remember that it’s okay to struggle, and that the act of writing itself can be a powerful form of self-care

So grab a pen and paper, and let’s get started on this journey towards healing and growth together.

Depression & Anxiety Prompts

1. “What would life be like without the depression symptoms?”

Depression & Anxiety Prompts

2. “What are the lessons from today that I want to remember tomorrow?”

3. “What emotion is most prevalent today? Where in my body do I feel it? What would I like to feel there instead?”

4. “When things feel hard, I want to remember ________. “

5. “What are better alternatives I could try next time when confronted with similar situations?”

6. “What is something that made me feel sad today?”  

7. “What are a few positive things going on in my life right now?” 

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8. “What specific emotions do I feel today, underneath the darkness of the depression clouds? Why is it important for me to be aware of these emotions?”

9. “What could be a few healthier solutions when feeling depressed or down again”

10. “When I think back, _____ was when I felt most alive, alert, curious, and safe. What was happening then? What was I doing? Who else was present?” 

11. “The last time I felt sad, I felt like ______. What made you feel better then?” 

12. “Is there something I’m grieving, like a person, relationship, pet, etc?” 

Depression & Anxiety Prompts

13. “When was the last time you did something nice for yourself?” 

14. “What challenges am I facing and need to ask for help and support with?” 

15. “How can I better take care of myself emotionally when I am feeling depressed?” 

16. “What is something you are looking forward to?”  

17. “Continue with questions like: What’s making me unhappy/angry/sad? Where do I feel numb? What makes me not want to leave my bed in the morning? How long have I been feeling this way? What am I usually doing when I feel like this? What triggers these feelings? Where do I feel like this?”  

18. “Where do I feel most depressed in my body? Why is it important for me to know where it is?” 

19. “What am I feeling? When did I feel better/worse? When during the day did I experience this feeling?” 

20. “If there’s one thing that could change in my life now, what would that be? What can I do to start changing my direction?”

21. “What is one thing you are curious to try but have not gotten around to it?” 

22. “When I have the energy, I will ____.” 

23. “What made you upset today?” 

24. “What is one self-care practice I can add to my daily routine?” 

Depression & Anxiety Prompts

25. “Three times I have been happy in the past” 

26. “What is one thing I wish I could change about my life?”

27. “What times of year do I feel my best? My worst? Do I notice a pattern?” 

28. “My inner critic is wrong about ___ because ___.”

29. “Write about a happy memory in detail.” 

30. “What’s my relationship with food like normally? How about when I’m feeling depressed? (a key here is to separate from the depression. In Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, it’s important to recognize that we are separate from our emotions and they will pass.)” 

31. “Five reasons my inner critic needs to quiet down”

32. “Does depression usually come with other emotions?” 

33. “Looking back, were there early signs that I was heading toward depression?” 

34. “How can I improve my relationship with depression?”

35. “Write about your resilience. Give specific examples of when you’ve shown resilience.”

36. “If depression is a messenger, what is it trying to tell me in this moment?” 

37. “In what ways has depression helped me survive and kept me safe?”

38. “What steps can I take to ease my depression? What’s worked in the past?”

39. “Think of a moment when you felt deeply at peace. Write every detail you can think of. what do you smell, hear, see, taste, feel on your skin when you think of this moment?”

40. “What do I need more of in my life? How could I take steps toward that?”

41. “What is my purpose in this world at this time?”

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Anxiety And Depression Prompts For Starting

42. “Today, I am thankful for….”

43. “I am anxious when….”

44. “My favorite accomplishment is…. “

45. “Make a list of 20 things you are grateful for.”

46. “My happiest memory is…”

47. “I felt sad when….”

48. “One way I could love myself more is…”

Anxiety And Depression Prompts For Starting

49. “What is your best quality?”

50. “Make a list of 15 things you love about yourself…”

51. “Make a list of 10 quotes that inspire you

52. “What’s been bugging me lately?”

53. “My Childhood hero was ________ and I am similar to them in these ways _______. “

54. “Write a letter to one of your parents. (You do not have to give it to them.)”

55. “My favorite body part is…”

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Journal Prompts For Mental Health 

56. “What does self-care mean to you, and how can you incorporate this into your daily routine?”

57. “Describe your perfect day – who would you spend it with and what would you do?”

58. “If you could have an hour with someone (living or dead) from your past, who would you choose and what would you ask him or her?”

59. “Identify one thing you are looking forward to this week, and explain why it makes you feel excited.”

60. “If you could change ONE thing about yourself, what would you change and why?”

Journal Prompts For Mental Health 

61. “Write down the things that trigger feelings of depression in you, and identify 1-3 strategies you can use to combat each of them.”

62. “Create a bucket list of things you’d like to accomplish or experience in the next 12 months.”

63. “What inspires you?”

64. “What words do you wish someone would say to you when you’re having a tough time?”

65. “What songs help lift your spirits when you’re feeling down?    “

66. “What quote(s) inspires you on difficult days?”

67. “Write about an important person in your life who you are grateful for. What do you admire about this person, why have they had such an impact on your life, and what would you like to tell them?”

68. “Discuss 5 things you wish others knew about you.”

69. “Discuss one thing that happened today that made you happy.”

70. “Describe a time you made a poor choice. What did you learn from the situation, and if you could have a do-over, what would you change about the situation?”

71. “Write a list of 10 things you are thankful for.”

72. “Write a letter to your teenage self telling him/her all the things you wish he/she knew.”

Journal Prompts For Mental Health 

73. “Discuss 3 things you did RIGHT today.”

74. “Describe your favorite time of year. What do you love about it, who do you spend it with, and what activities do you enjoy during that time?”

75. “What are your best character traits?”

76. “Identify 3 things in your life that you SHOULD be grateful for, but aren’t. What emotions do these things evoke in you, and why aren’t you grateful for them?”

77. “Pick ONE positive word you’d like to focus on this week and brainstorm a list of things you can do to experience this feeling each day.”

78. “What makes you feel fulfilled?”

79. “How do you want to feel tomorrow, and what 3 things can you do today to ensure you feel that way?”

80. “What is your 5-year plan? Map out all of the things you need to do to reach your goals.”

81. “What is the biggest life lesson you’ve learned to date? Describe how the lesson was learned, and how it has impacted your life.”

82. “Make a list of things that are holding you back from your wants, needs, goals, and desires. Be brutally honest with yourself, and brainstorm ways to overcome these obstacles. ”   

83. “Describe a situation in which you helped someone else. What did you do? How did it make them feel? How did it make you feel?”

84. “What’s the most embarrassing thing that ever happened to you? “

Journal Prompts For Mental Health 

85. “What are your best qualities?”   

86. “Describe a difficult situation you’ve encountered. How did you cope with it and what did you learn from the experience?”

More Journal Prompt Ideas

87. “Write a bucket list. What can you start doing to accomplish these?”

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88. “Name 3 songs that help to lift your mood when you feel low.”

89. “Write down up to five things for which you feel grateful. Be specific and personal.”

90. “Write down three things you want to read back when things get hard.”

91. “What are your dreams? What future goals would you like to achieve? How steps can you start taking now to realize your dreams?   ”     

92. “Who are the most important people in your life and why?”

93. “What is the biggest obstacle you are facing? How can you overcome it?”

94. “Identify the important values you hold and how you can live this every day by your actions. You may connect your values to specific goals.”

95. “Describe your “perfect” day – what would you do and who would you do it with?”

96. “What are your main stressors? How can you cope with them?   ”                  

More Journal Prompt Ideas

97. “Write a letter to somebody who wronged you. Explain how it made you feel and practice forgiving them and letting it go.”

98. “Identify something about yourself that makes you feel insecure, less than or shameful. Then, write how that makes you feel, such as embarrassment, frustration or sadness. Finally, write a letter to yourself showing self-compassion and acceptance for the part of yourself that you do not like. See if you can shift your perspective.”

99. “What would you like your life to look like in 5, 10 and 20 years? What steps can you take to get there?”

100. “If you are dealing with an addiction, write about how your addiction has impacted your life and what you would like your life to be without it. List reasons why you want to stop your addictive behaviors and what steps can help you get there. Write a commitment and/or break-up letter to your addiction.”   

101. “Describe your biggest accomplishment in life so far.” 

102. “If you are struggling with regret, remorse, or grief about someone in your life, write a letter to that person expressing how you feel. Once your letter is complete, you can decide whether to share it or keep it private.”

103. “Describe a situation where you cared for someone else. How did it make you feel?”

104. “Write down something you can do for yourself and something you can do for others.”

105. “If you knew you could not fail, what is one thing you would do with your life?”

106. “Explore your feelings through writing by jotting down how you feel and the thoughts that triggered these emotions. See if you can connect your thoughts, emotions, and subsequent behaviors.”

107. “If you could spend time with someone, living or dead, from your past – What would you do? What would you say? Why?” 

108. “What have you learned from your mental health struggles? How can this make you stronger in the long-run?”

More Journal Prompt Ideas

109. “List out your coping mechanisms when you are feeling down. What activities can you do that will improve your mood and get you through.”    

110. Write a list of things that are holding you back from your goals. How can you overcome them?

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What Is A Journal Prompt?

A journal prompt is a specific question or statement that is designed to inspire writing and reflection in a journal or diary. 

Journal prompts can be used to guide your writing and help you explore your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. 

They can be simple questions, like “What did I do today?” or more complex prompts that encourage you to reflect on your goals, values, and beliefs.

Journal prompts can be a helpful tool in managing stress, anxiety, depression, and other mental health conditions

They can help you gain clarity and insight into your emotions and behaviors, and they can be a way to cultivate self-awareness and self-compassion.

Journal prompts can also be used to explore creative writing or to spark inspiration for other projects

They can be used to explore a particular theme or topic, like gratitude, forgiveness, or self-care.

Journal prompts can be found in many different formats, including books, websites, apps, and social media. 

Some people prefer to create their own prompts based on their personal experiences and interests.

How Can Journal Prompts For Depression Help You?

Journal prompts for depression can be a powerful tool in managing symptoms and finding a way forward. 

Here are some ways that journal prompts can help:

  1. Explore difficult emotions: Journal prompts can help you explore difficult emotions and experiences related to depression. Writing about these experiences can help you process and make sense of them, which can be a helpful step in the healing process.
  2. Identify patterns and triggers: Journal prompts can also help you identify patterns and triggers that contribute to your depression. Writing about your thoughts and behaviors can help you see patterns that you may not have been aware of before.
  3. Develop coping strategies: Journal prompts can be a way to develop coping strategies for managing depression. For example, you can write about things that have helped you in the past or brainstorm new strategies that you can try.
  4. Cultivate self-compassion: Journal prompts can also be a way to cultivate self-compassion and self-care, which can be challenging when you are in the midst of depression. Writing about things you are grateful for, small wins you have had, or positive affirmations can help you shift your focus towards the positive.
  5. Monitor progress: Finally, journal prompts can be a way to monitor your progress over time. You can track your mood, energy level, and other symptoms over time, which can help you see patterns and progress.

Next Steps

Implementing journal prompts for depression into daily life can be a helpful way to manage symptoms and gain insights into your thoughts and emotions

Here are some tips for incorporating journal prompts into your daily routine:

  1. Set aside time: Schedule a specific time each day to write in your journal. This could be in the morning, before bed, or during a break in your day. By making journaling a part of your daily routine, you can establish a habit and make it easier to stick to over time.
  2. Keep it simple: Don’t feel like you need to write pages and pages each day. Start with a simple prompt or question and write for just a few minutes. Over time, you can build up to longer sessions if you find it helpful.
  3. Focus on the present: Try to focus on the present moment and your current experience, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future. Writing about your current thoughts and feelings can help you stay grounded and present.
  4. Mix it up: Use a variety of journal prompts to keep things interesting and prevent boredom. You can find prompts in books, online, or create your own based on your personal experiences and interests.
  5. Be kind to yourself: Remember to approach journaling with a spirit of self-compassion and kindness. Don’t judge yourself for what you write or feel, and try to avoid harsh self-criticism.
  6. Monitor your progress: Keep track of your mood, energy level, and other symptoms over time to see if journaling is making a difference. If you notice improvements, celebrate them and keep going. If you don’t see any changes, consider trying different prompts or seeking additional support from a mental health professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Do I Find Journal Prompts For Depression?

There are many resources available for finding journal prompts for depression. 

You can search online for prompts, look for books or journals specifically designed for people with depression, or create your own prompts based on your personal experiences and interests. 

Some mental health professionals may also be able to provide guidance on finding or creating effective prompts.

How Often Should I Write In My Journal?

The frequency of your journaling practice is up to you. 

Some people find it helpful to write daily, while others may write less frequently. 

It’s important to establish a routine that works for you and is sustainable over time. 

You can start with a few minutes a day and build up to longer sessions if you find it helpful.

What Should I Do If I Find Journaling To Be Triggering Or Overwhelming?

If you find that journaling is triggering or overwhelming, it may be helpful to take a break or seek additional support from a mental health professional. 

You may also want to try different prompts or adjust the frequency or length of your journaling sessions. 

It’s important to approach journaling with a spirit of self-compassion and kindness, and to remember that it’s okay to take breaks or adjust your practice as needed.

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