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40 Journaling Prompts for Adults

Journaling – or keeping a diary – is often misinterpreted as a hobby for children or teenagers. However, journaling is also an amazing tool for adults to use to keep their mental health and mindset in a balanced place.

What’s more, Journaling prompts for adults can help relieve stress and improve our outlook, which God knows we all need at times.

I’ve been journaling since childhood and have seen my practise evolve from simply writing a diary where I could vent about my crushes and desire to look like a certain supermodel (I was a 90s kid, okay?), into intentional journaling that helps keep my mind in a positive place.

Through a combination of journal prompts and other techniques, my self-awareness has improved tenfold.

In this blog post, I’m going to share some of my favourite journaling prompts for adults, as well as other techniques you can use in your journaling practise so that you can do the same.

Woman in front of a purple sunset

Why should you start journaling as an adult?

Maybe you kept a diary, scrapbook or journal as a kid and felt you’d outgrown it, maybe you didn’t. Either way, journaling is a great tool to use as an adult if you want to manage your stress and improve your mindset.

As adults, we’re faced with a wide range of stressors, from our jobs and money, to our relationships, home, and families. It therefore makes complete sense that we would need to bring in certain self-care measures to ensure we keep on top of our mental health, emotions, and mindset.

Venting about your worries and learning how to better manage them, as well as set goals, shows emotional maturity, a desire to change for the better, and be the best adult we can be for those around us.

Furthermore, if your journal practise as an adult includes techniques that you used as a kid, such as doodling and making scrapbooks or collages, you’re embracing your inner child, which is a lovely way to heal, feel comforted, and reignite that childlike joy you felt all those years ago.

There are numerous benefits to journaling, both mental and physical, and introducing it to your routine, if only a few times a week, is a really positive habit to get into.

What are the benefits of using journal prompts?

As time goes on, more and more studies are revealing that journaling is really beneficial for adults.

Journaling helps:

  • Relieve stress
  • Improve the symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Heal trauma
  • Release emotions in a healthy way
  • Learn self-awareness
  • Be mindful
  • Feel more positive and grateful
  • Set goals and intentions
  • Practise self-care
  • Improve memory
  • And even boosts your immune system

Journal prompts are questions, statements, or thinking exercises that encourage you to delve into your mind, vent emotions, and improve self-awareness.

Woman with her hands in her hair, the sun is shining through the gap in her arms

They’re especially useful for adults who are new to journaling and aren’t sure where to start. They basically point you in the right direction with your practise so that you don’t have to waste valuable time trying to think of what to write about.

Integrating journaling and using journal prompts into your daily routine is a good habit to get into as not only does it have numerous benefits, which I listed above, it helps add structure to your day.

It’s also a self-care activity in and of itself, and self-care is crucial for your mental, emotional, and physical health.

How to start journaling as an adult

While starting a journal appears easy on the surface, it’s easy to put off and procrastinate over.

Some of my top tips for starting a journal are:

  1. Set a goal: What do you want to achieve by journaling? What areas of your life do you want to improve? Do you want a blank journal to fill in yourself or one that’s already laid out for you? Put intention behind your journaling.
  2. Pick a journal that you want to pick up and use. If you don’t want to write in it, you’re probably not going to. Choose either a blank journal that you can use creatively, or a pre-made, themed journal that points you in the right direction with your practise. Pretty journals don’t have to be expensive either. Check out my gift guide on buying journals to get some ideas. The same goes for journal stationary.
  3. Leave your journal in a place you’re going to see it. Out of sight often means out of mind, so try to leave your journal in an obvious place that’s easy to get to. For example, if you’re journaling in the morning, you could leave your journal on your nightstand, your breakfast table, or on your work desk. If you’re forced to physically see and move the journal, you’re more likely to write in it.
  4. Set a reminder. Pick a time of day that works best for you – for example, the morning works best for me – and try to practise at a similar time each day. Set an alarm or reminder on your phone to make sure you keep on top of it, or stick physical reminders like sticky notes somewhere you’ll be sure to see them.
  5. Set a timer if you’re worried about overrunning. I recommend only journaling for five-to-10 minutes at a time as you don’t want to burn out. You don’t need to be journaling for hours in order to get the benefits.
  6. Using journal prompts and/or printables is another time-saver. Prompts save you the guess work and encourage your journal practise in a certain direct, for example, using journal prompts for goal-setting help you get better at setting goals and shadow work journal prompts help you with your shadow work. Printables lay out exactly what you need to write. I sell journal printables to help improve your mindset on Etsy, which lay out the exact steps you need to take in order to improve your mindset with journaling in just a few minutes.
  7. Take part in a 30-day journal challenge. If we can stick to something for 30 days, that’s a good sign it’s become or is becoming a habit. Journaling is an excellent habit to get into. Why not sign up for a free 30-day challenge (like mine) or simply give journaling a shot for 30 days and see how you feel.
  8. Take it one day at a time. You don’t have to go from 0-100 overnight. If a 30-day challenge isn’t for you, why not try journaling two-to-three times a week to start off with and see how you do? Then, after a month or two, you can assess where you want to go from there. You might want to increase the number of times a week you journal for if it fits in with your busy schedule, or you might want to keep it the same. The choice is yours.
  9. Practise self-care. As well as journaling, which is a self-care activity in and of itself, it’s important to take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health in other ways. Some of my favourite ways to practise self-care are meditation, watching TV shows and movies that bring me comfort, taking a warm shower, and exercising.
  10. Don’t beat yourself up for missing a day. Remember, journaling is supposed to help relieve stress, not put more pressure on your shoulders. If it’s not bringing you relief and only proving to be another source of stress, I invite you to take a step back and evaluate why you started in the first place. Journaling should be a positive habit, not another way to beat yourself up.

Journaling prompts for adults

Using journaling prompts helps give your journal practise intention and a clear purpose.

Here are some great journaling prompts for adults that you’re free to use.

  1. How are you feeling today? Can you describe your mood? If it was a colour, what would it be?
  2. What is something that’s currently causing you stress? Vent about it on the page.
  3. Write out a clear plan of action to tackle this source of stress.
  4. What are five things you can do today to relieve stress?
  5. What are your five favourite forms of self-care?
  6. What does being an “adult” mean to you? Why do you think this is?
  7. What’s one small goal you have today?
  8. What’s a larger goal you want to achieve this year?
  9. What is your five-year plan?
  10. Write down a clear plan of action to achieve one of your larger, long-term goals.
  11. Write about a time in your life where you had to be an adult, but didn’t feel like one.
  12. Do you often feel as if you were forced to grow up to fast? Why might this be?
  13. How old do you feel? What does the concept of age mean to you?
  14. What was your childhood like?
  15. What are three hobbies you had as a kid?
  16. What’s one hobby that you’ve carried with you into adulthood? If there isn’t one, why do you think this is?
  17. What are five ways you can embrace your inner child as an adult?
  18. What’s one way you plan to embrace your inner child today?
  19. What do you wish you could tell your 10-year-old self?
  20. What’s one thing you wish you could tell your teenaged self?
  21. Write about a problem that you’ve recently overcome.
  22. What are five things you’re grateful for today?
  23. What’s one affirmation that you want to carry with you this week?
  24. How do you feel about responsibility?
  25. What are five things that make you happy?
  26. What’s your favourite way to relax?
  27. What does “family” mean to you?
  28. How are the relationships in your life doing?
  29. What, if anything, would you like to improve about the relationships in your life? How do you plan to do this?
  30. How do you usually react to stress? How do you feel about that?
  31. Could you possibly improve how you react to stress? How do you plan to do that?
  32. What aspects of your life would you like to improve?
  33. What things about yourself would you like to improve?
  34. What are 10 things you like about yourself?
  35. What’s one way you’ve growth over the last few years?
  36. What events do you feel you still need to heal from, if any?
  37. If you had no responsibilities for a day, what would you do? Is there a way you could in fact fit at least one of these activities into your week?
  38. What was your relationship with your parents like as a child? How does it compare to now?
  39. What does your dream life look like? What do you need to do to get there?
  40. How do you feel about the person you’ve grown into?

(Check out my Journal Prompt Library for 750+ journal prompts to help you transform your mindset all in one place.)

What else should you write about in your journal?

As well as using journaling prompts, adults will find that there’s a bunch of other journaling techniques you can use during your practise to help improve your mindset and mental health, while keeping stress at bay.

These are some of the techniques I focus on in my Master Your Mindset with Journaling course.

Woman standing on a sandy beach

Gratitude

Practising gratitude by writing gratitude lists in your journal is a great way to improve your mindset and overall outlook on life.

It’s shown to relieve stress, improve our mental health, and prevent us from thinking negatively, as it trains our brain to go to a place of positivity and gratitude instead of focusing and fixating on the stuff we’re unhappy about.

I invite you to try writing a gratitude list in your journal each morning – it only has to have a few things on it and they can be as big or small as you like. Just think about whatever you’re grateful for in that moment.

For example, things you might be grateful for might include:

  • Your morning coffee
  • The roof over your head
  • A good night’s sleep
  • Your soft bed
  • The birds singing outside the window
  • Feeling safe and loved

What means a lot to one person may not mean a lot to another, so gratitude lists can be very personal to you.

I invite you to take a deep breath and really feel thankful as you write it, if only for a few seconds.

With time, it’ll become easier and come more naturally.

Set goals/intentions

Setting long and short-term goals or intentions can be really motivating.

Achieving our goals is also really great for our mindset. It tells us that we’re heading in the right direction and being productive, whatever productive means to you.

It doesn’t matter how relatively small the goal is. If you’re feeling low or anxious, simply getting dressed or making an appointment over the phone might be your goal for the day.

Ticking off these goals gives us that little hit of dopamine we so desperately need at times. We feel rewarded and motivated.

On the other hand, your journal is a great place for you to write a step-by-step, detailed plan of action for achieving your bigger, more long-term goals, such as buying a house.

Schedule self-care

As adults, we’re often busy or we have other people we need to take care of. The problem is, this often means that our own personal well-being gets pushed to the side.

Our mental, emotional, physical, and financial health are all super-important, and practising self-care to ensure that these are all balanced is crucial.

I’ve found that a good way of ensuring I actually take the time out of my day to practise self-care is by planning it out in my journal in advance.

I list down a couple of self-care activities that I want to do that day, and make sure to write them down so that I can look forward to them and remember them.

It’s also a way to hold myself accountable.

We need to prioritise ourselves.

Some of my favourite self-care activities include:

Journals and pens on a desk
  • Washing my hair
  • Making sure my living space it clutter-free
  • Working out
  • Drinking a warm beverage
  • Watching my favourite comfort TV shows or movies
  • Journaling (of course)
  • Meditating

Other acts of self-care that I’ve learned about as an adult are:

  • Enforcing boundaries
  • Learning to say ‘no’
  • Cutting out or distancing myself from what doesn’t serve me
  • Protecting my own energy
  • Shadow work
  • Holding myself accountable, while forgiving myself for being human

Self-care is personal. You should find what activities or practises bring you joy, comfort, and growth, and do those whenever you can.

Affirmations

Repeating affirmations helps boost confidence and self-esteem.

By repeating the same present tense, self-affirming statement over and over again, we reprogram our brain into thinking it automatically.

With time, we believe that we’re telling ourselves, or – as I’d prefer to think of it – we finally see through the negative self-talk that’s been clouding our judgement and discover the truth.

Affirmations can be said aloud, but also written down in your journal.

Some great affirmations to write in your journal at the start of the day might be:

  • I’ve got this
  • I overcome every obstacle
  • Mistakes are just lessons; I become stronger with each one
  • I am confident
  • This day is going to be amazing

We all need a little pep-talk from time-to-time, and who better to give it to you than you?

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