What are you anxious about right now?
That’s just one example of a journal prompt for anxiety that you can use to improve your mood.
These phrases provide direction for your journaling. They can provide insight, help you express your emotions and help you feel better.
Keep reading to learn research on journaling for anxiety and discover x mental health prompts.
What Are Journal Prompts for Anxiety?
Journal prompts are short phrases or questions that help you know what to write.
Have you started journaling—or wanted to start journaling—but weren’t sure where to start. What do you write about? What are you supposed to say? Are you doing it right?
Journal prompts give you a clear purpose for writing.
A prompt is usually in the form of a phrase or question. An example of a journal prompt is, “
However, photos, quotes and other sources can also serve as writing inspiration.
Journal prompts for anxiety can help you work through those difficult thoughts and emotions. They can help you identify:
- What anxiety emotionally and physically feels like
- Coping mechanisms that work for you
They can also help you get out your feelings onto paper. Whether or not we have a person to talk to, journaling can help us release difficult emotions. Often, we’ll write things we wouldn’t say or admit to another person, which can be cathartic.
Aside from taking a closer look at your anxiety, journal prompts can also help you focus on better things. For example, journaling about what you’re grateful for could help shift your mood from anxiety to gratitude.
Do Journal Prompts for Anxiety Work?
In general, journal prompts can help improve your anxiety and mental help. However, they’re not for everyone.
When or not journal prompts for anxiety work depend on multiple factors.
- Severity of Anxiety. Those with clinical anxiety should consider seeing a therapist to address their mental health. While prompts can help, professional guidance is more important.
If you enjoy journaling and it resonates with you, you’re more likely to find help from it. If it feels too forced, consider other anxiety coping mechanisms.
- Prompt Type. Choose prompts that resonate with you. If a prompt makes you feel worse, don’t use it. For example, prompts that force positivity might not work when you’re at your lowest.
Many studies show the benefits of journaling on mental health.
A 2018 study showed nursing students who kept journals about their experience had less anxiety about their duties. Other research mirrors these findings, showing that journaling can decrease mental stress load.
When it comes to journal prompts for anxiety, there’s two main types. Both have shown to be beneficial for anxiety.
- Positive affect journaling (PAJ). One preliminary study showed that PAJ–AKA gratitude journaling—helped improve mental distress and well-being in patients with anxiety symptoms.
- Expressive journaling. In one study, researchers told participants to write about either their most stressful life event or an emotional neutral subject. Compared to those who wrote abut neutral subjects, those who expressively wrote about their stress has improved stress and immune function.
How to Use Journal Prompts for Anxiety
If you want to try journal prompts for anxiety, it’s a good idea to have a dedicated space to write. If you want to make it an ongoing practice, consider using a dedicated:
- Journal or diary
- Note file on your phone
- Document file on your computer
Next, choose what type of anxiety writing prompt you want to start with.
- Do you want to learn about your anxiety?
- Do you want to express your emotions and get them out onto paper?
- Do you want to shift perspectives in an effort to minimize anxiety?
Once you’ve chosen, scroll through the appropriate list below and select one that resonates with you. To get your hand flowing, write the prompt at the top of the page. Then let your response flow out. Although you may think deeply, think on paper, letting it all come out. Remember that there’s no right or wrong in journaling.
You can journal as often as you’d like. If you find that it helps your anxiety, try to make it a daily or weekly habit. Alternatively, you can turn to your journal prompts only in times of stress. Do what works for you or as is directed by your therapist.
61 Journal Prompts for Anxiety
These journal prompts for anxiety are broken up into 3 categories:
- Prompts for examining anxiety
- Prompts for expressing your anxiety
- Prompts for shifting your perspective
Examining Anxiety: 20 Journal Prompts for Anxiety
These journal prompts for anxiety can help you get clear on your feelings and thoughts. Why would you want to zoom in on anxiety? Doing so can help you learn about your triggers and identify what’s working and what’s not. In that process, you may uncover ways to feel better.
- What’s an activity you find soothing?
- What’s an activity you wish you could do more of?
- When does your anxiety come on?
- Describe a time you failed and how you overcame it.
- What’s something you didn’t think you could get through but you did? Recall the challenge, how you overcame it and how it felt to overcome
- What strategies have you used in the past to cope with anxiety? List the strategy and recall if/how each worked.
- What makes you feel confident?
- What makes you feel prepared?
- What are some unhelpful things you do to cope with anxiety?
- Write down your top 3-5 causes of anxiety.
- How can you take better care of yourself when you have anxiety?
- What are some self-care habits you’ve been meaning to do or try?
- Do you notice more anxiety a certain time of day, day of the week, or time of year?
- Brainstorm ways to add more laughter into your life.
- Brainstorm ways to add more fun into your life.
- Brainstorm ways to practice more self-compassion
- What advice would a loving friend give you in this situation?
- How can you say “no” more often to things you don’t want to do?
- How can you say “yes” more often to things you want to do?
- Write down your top worries and describe whether they’re realistic.
Expressive Prompts: 20 Journal Prompts for Anxiety
Anxiety is a hard thing to hold in the body. Let’s write it out.
Research shows that writing about stressful events—aka expressive writing—can help you improve your mood and more.
- Describe 3 things that scare you.
- What are your biggest criticisms about yourself?
- Describe how you’re feeling in this present moment.
- List all your current worries and anxieties (all of them!)
- Spill it. What went wrong today?
- What’s causing you emotional pain?
- Who are you angry at right now?
- What’s aching on your heart right now?
- List all the “what ifs” currently circling your brain
- Describe a time someone hurt you and how it made you feel.
- Describe your biggest heartache
- Describe one thing you wish would change
- What are you afraid of failing at?
- What are you most upset about right now?
- The last time I cried was about…
- Do you have any regrets, if so, what?
- Find and write down 5 quotes relatable to your feeling (Pinterest is good for quotes!)
- Search for an image that represents how you feel. Describe the image.
- If you answered “how are you” honestly, what would you say?
- Rate your mental health on a scale of 1-10. Describe why you chose that number.
Gaining Perspective: 21 Journal Prompts for Anxiety
When we’re in the midst of anxiety, sometimes it’s all we can see. Even though we want to see the good, it feels physically impossible.
It’s important to feel your emotions. Toxic positivity is a bad thing.
With that being said, there’s a time and place for shifting focus. When we gain perspectives, it can help us feel better about our situation. Or, at least, help us forget about it for a moment.
If these prompts feel forced and make you feel bad, don’t use them. But if you want to see if it will help you shift focus, give them a try.
As we described above, consider that positive affect journaling can help those with anxiety symptoms.
- What are you really proud of overcoming?
- What are 3 things you’re grateful for today?
- Describe one of your happiest life events or moments in detail.
- List all the nice things people have said about you, big and small.
- Write down all the traits you value about yourself.
- Describe something you’re looking forward to.
- Describe your favorite scent.
- Describe one thing that made you smile today.
- Write a glowing profile of someone you love and are grateful for.
- List all your pet’s best attributes
- What’s your favorite quote?
- What’s your top goal? Describe how you’ll feel once you’ve achieved it.
- What’s your proudest accomplishment?
- Write a letter of forgiveness to yourself.
- Describe your favorite place in the world
- Describe somewhere you plan on visiting.
- Describe 3 of your most meaningful belongings.
- Describe the best gift you’ve ever received.
- Recall the nicest thing someone’s done for you.
- Describe your perfect day.
- Scroll through your phone until you find a pic that makes you smile. Describe the picture.
Summary: Journal Prompts for Anxiety
Journal prompts for anxiety are a good idea to try for anyone who is having trouble managing difficult emotions. Research shows that journaling can improve mental health and even your physical health too. But remember, not every coping mechanism is right for everyone. If journaling is making you feel worse or just isn’t for you, don’t sweat it. Try a different anxiety relief method instead. Whether or not you deal with clinical anxiety, it’s a good idea to talk to a therapist about your emotions.