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  • Writer's pictureKatie Lewis

The Benefits of Journaling for Mindfulness (Plus 7 Prompts)

If you're interested in intentionally incorporating more mindfulness practices into your life, a regular (or semi-regular or even sporadic) journaling practice would be a great place to start.


I'll explain how jotting random thoughts in a journal or drafting more structured thinking in response to a prompt can be beneficial, and I'll provide a list of my favorite prompts that can be used just once or over and over again.


I'll admit: Mindfulness is a bit of a buzzword these days, but it's for good reason. As I mentioned in this post mindfulness is so much more than meditation. Folks practice mindfulness more regularly than they think. The shift happens when we're just a bit more intentional about it.


Mindfulness is incredibly easy to put into practice. It's inexpensive (most forms are free!), it can be practiced any time and anywhere, and only requires your time and attention. (For what it's worth, I recognize and promote that time is often more valuable than money. The cool thing about mindfulness, though, is that the dividends you acquire are more than worth the investment.)


Despite the lack of major barriers to implementing mindfulness, it doesn't happen in a snap. If you're anything like me, mindfulness practice is born of traumatic or life-altering events. In my case, I was desperate for some solid foundational practices to help me cope with my anxieties. Whether you're like me or not, new habits take time and effort to develop.


When starting anything new, questions arise that can lead to insecurity which can lead to inaction. Where should I start? What practices should I incorporate? How can I incorporate all of them? First, take a deep breath. Mindfulness shouldn't be overwhelming or anxiety-inducing. The objective of mindfulness is exactly the opposite.


Journal and Pen

Start Small


One of the simplest mindfulness practices with a low barrier to entry is journaling. You can start journaling any time. Current research suggests just some of the benefits of journaling are that it:

  1. Improves mental health

  2. Stimulates self-confidence

  3. Boosts creativity

  4. Enhances memory

  5. Supports physical health

Brown and Wong (2017), professors of psychology at Indiana University, completed a study with 300 adults who sought counseling for issues related to depression and anxiety. They found that individuals who wrote letters of gratitude reported improved mental health 12 weeks after they completed their writing exercises. Gratitude writing can be beneficial for individuals with mental health struggles.


Journal

One way you can begin a journaling practice is to write 1-5 things you're grateful for. What you write can be simple: "I'm grateful I slept well last night." Or they can be more profound and complex: "I'm grateful my partner is willing to attend couples' therapy with me so that we can take steps to work on our relationship." Either way, start small so that the barrier is low.


Begin by doing this any number of times per week that you feel you can adhere to. Do you think once a week on Sundays is sustainable? Complete your gratitude journal on Sunday mornings before you get out of bed and before you reach for your phone. (Tip: Keep your journal and a pen next to your bed for easy access.) Could you commit to completing your gratitude journal on workdays? Bring your journal with you to work and complete it before checking your work email for the first time.


Use the following sentence frames to guide you:

  • I am grateful for...

  • I am grateful to...

  • I am...

  • I have...

  • I've noticed that...

  • Something beautiful I saw recently was...

  • I felt productive when...

  • Something that inspired me recently was...

  • A challenge I've been working through is...

  • A friend I'm grateful to have is...

7 Journal Prompts for Mindfulness


Once you've established a habit of regular (or regular-ish) journaling, you might consider expanding into more long-form entries in an effort to expand beyond that which you're grateful for. Below are 7 journal prompts you can use once or repeatedly that will support you as your mindfulness journey continues.

  1. What have you been worried or anxious about lately? Why? What steps might you take to ease that burden?

  2. What practices do you think might benefit your emotional health?

  3. What practices do you do that support your physical health? What could you add?

  4. What can you do differently tomorrow? What would you continue doing?

  5. In what ways have you been living mindfully lately?

  6. Look around. What do you see? What do you hear? If you're eating, describe what you taste. Can you touch something nearby and describe how it feels? Do you smell anything that you could describe?

  7. Think about your life. How do you feel things are going?

Is journaling something you could incorporate into your daily or weekly routine? What benefits might it bring to your life? If you already journal, how does it support your life and living mindfully?

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