• Writing for Self-Care

    Writing for self-care is a tool to aid you in investigating rather than reacting to your thoughts and feelings. Journaling and poetry writing might lead you to insights you otherwise would not have.

    * Scroll down for articles on journaling for mental health and self-care, many of which offer writing prompts.

    Writing As Self-Reflection

    The idea here is to get into the habit of self-reflection via journaling and poetry writing.

    To reflect, you write down what you are thinking and feeling, maybe adding in photos and artwork if it pleases you. Your written content might include your opinions, thoughts and emotions about what is happening/happened, your fears, frustrations and annoyances, what stresses you out, what you hope for, what you are grateful for, etc. It might explore how these things impact you, others around you and your world.

    With journaling and poetry, you get to choose what and how often you write.

    Sometimes you may feel the need to write, and then not get the urge again for a while. Writing offers a way to slow down and understand what is going on in your mind, to soothe yourself, to elevate your mood, to work through tough memories, to cope with anxiety or depression and more. You may find that the more regular the routine of writing is, the most useful it becomes to your self-care.

    For more on the benefits of journaling …

    See C. Ackerman, 83 Benefits of Journaling for Depression, Anxiety and Stress(positivepsychology.com). If you’ve decided to keep a journal, but you’re not sure how to go about it, the article also offers tips, ideas and prompts that you might find helpful.

     My Self-Care Journaling Journey

    I started writing for self-care when my kids were young. I felt emotions and thoughts and was facing scenarios as a parent that were new to me. I needed to process these things, but I didn’t want to process them with anyone else quite yet.

    During those times, I would use journaling as a way to move my “heart and mind” content of the day to paper (or the computer screen), so I could see it all in front of me and make sense of it. Writing it out helped me figure out what I did want to share with others and what I didn’t. It was useful in identifying strategies that might help me, my spouse and kids deal with issues, that before seemed too big to address. So, journaling was a useful “go-to” tool for me to get more clarity in the present, before I delved further into an issue, as well as when I needed to re-group and re-strategize.

    In contrast, writing more recently has become more of a lifeline for me for getting through hard times. I find myself sometimes writing several times a day, then once a day, then maybe not for a few days, and then yo-yo back to multiple times a day. So, although I write only as the need strikes, writing has become a habit that I am intentionally using to help myself pause in difficult and stressful situations, find a palatable way to frame my thoughts and feelings, and cultivate wiser responses than I would without it. 

    The logistics of writing for me:

    • While in theory, I prefer journaling with pen and paper, in a pretty book, that is not how it plays out for me. But it might for you—I know some of you are in love with paper products and pens of all sorts, and journaling give you a place to play with them. Typing my thoughts and feelings out raw on a computer just works better for me. I like the no frills approach—I can get it out and be done with it.
    • I keep a dated log, and just add to it as I can. I remind myself that I can say whatever I want in it—nothing is off limits to talk about or say. In some cases, vomiting up words is what I need in a moment. I also give myself permission to do what I want with the content. For example, I have deleted some journal entries that are particularly painful or embarrassing to reread. Sometimes, rather than posting a new topic, I pick up threads from a previous entry and think or feel them out more.
    • I also have a tendency to add in research, such as URLs and websites that address a topic I was exploring.

    See below for examples of mindful writing prompts you can use to facilitate your journaling, if you choose. 

    Adding Poetry as a Form of Expression

    Of late, I have felt compelled to write poetry as a way to express deep feelings and thoughts. The words about those feelings and thoughts flow through me, without demanding sentences and paragraphs. For me, there is a rhythmic feel to the words forming the poetry and an urge for certain words and groups of words to have their own lines; some even need to be indented.

    There is a freedom and force in poetry writing that I don’t get with or need from journaling. E. Torres, Your Guide to Writing Poetry as a Form of Self-Care (thegoodtrade.com), puts it this way: “ … A journal asks, “what have you done today?” while a poem asks, “how do you feel about it?” Torres views poetry as a vehicle to help her connect with the world, be present and get to know herself in a new way.

    For more on poetry writing as self-care, see the above link.

    Article by Kristin Littel.

    Journaling for Mindfulness

    Prompts, examples & exercises by Alicia Nortje.

    Guided Meditation Prompt

    Meditation to prompt mindful writing by Stephanie Domet.

    Journaling for Wellbeing

    Prompts, ideas, questions & topics by Tchiki Davis.

    Grief Journaling

    Introduction and prompts by Iris Waichler.

    Anxiety Journaling

    Introduction & prompts By Maggie Wooll.

    Depression Journaling

    Prompts for issues related to depression from PsychCentral.com.

    Journaling to Overcome Fear

    Riyah offers 25 journaling prompts to help overcome fear. 

    Relationship Journaling

    Matt Mignona talks about journaling to support healthy relationships. 

    Life Transition Journaling

    Find Your Voice offers prompts to journal about a life transition.

    Journaling for Caregivers

    Lisa Hutchinson writes about the benefits of journaling for caregivers.

    Journaling for Inner Criticism

    Hannah Braime offers journal prompts to help you calm your inner critic

    Journaling for Self-Esteem

    Sam Brodsky offers journal prompts to boost your self esteem.

    Journaling for Loneliness

    Wandering.com offers journal prompts to help cope with loneliness. 

    Journaling for Self-Discovery

    Kristen Webb Wright offers a discussion and journal prompts for self-discovery.

    Journaling for Mental Health

    Therapist Bisrma Anwar offers a guide to journaling for mental health.

    Journaling on Gender Identity

    Clove Kelly Hernandez reflects on gender identity and journaling

    Journaling on Sexual Identity

    Laura Leigh Abby shares how journaling helped her come out  to the world. 

    Journal for Healing

    Hannah Van Horn provides guidance on using journaling as a tool for healing.

    Journaling and Poetry

    Ideas for the way poetry can be used in our daily lives, by Anjali Mani.  

    Primer: Poetry Journaling

    Ashley provides examples of what might go into a poetry journal. 

    Poetry to Boost Journaling

    Liz Newman discusses using poetry to improve your journaling.  

    Remembering via Poetry

    Megan Willome offers examples of  using poetry to remember. 

    Self-Care with Poetry Writing

    Lisa Marie Basile talks about poetry writing is an act of truth and rebellion.

    Self-Love Poetry Journal

    Check out this free downloadable poetry journal from littleinfinite.com.