Between the stresses of work and the busyness of everyday life, finding calm can be difficult. But writing—particularly expressive writing, which is personal and emotional—can help, acting as a way to clear your mind and process experiences. The key is having a framework to structure your thoughts that still allows you the freedom of creativity. That’s where writing prompts come in.
Here are fifteen writing prompts that promote relaxation and calm, as well as explanations on why they work:
1 What’s on my mind right now?
Holding a lot of information in your head can lead to overwhelm. Giving yourself the opportunity to get it out onto the page via a general brain dump can help combat that stress. Plus it gives you something to refer back to so you don’t forget important or necessary tasks or thoughts you want to follow up on at a later time.
2 What’s working well in your life right now?
Naming what you like about your life not only prompts you to appreciate what you have but also gives you a direction to strive for.
3 What would my ideal life look and feel like?
Letting yourself dream about the future can be relaxing. It can also give you insight into what changes you might want to make to improve your life.
4 Choose three parts of your life you want to improve, and brainstorm SMART goals for each
If you’re feeling tense or disappointed because things in your life aren’t working the way you’d like them to, try this prompt. Identifying those problem areas and making a plan to address them can help you feel better. And the SMART goal method can help you make your goals tangible and achievable, thereby setting yourself up for success.
5 List out your three biggest obstacles (in life and/or at work) and write about how you worked through them
Remembering what you have been able to overcome is one way to provide a bit of motivation and reassurance in hard times.
6 I’m grateful for . . .
Regularly thinking about the good things in your life can help you shift to a gratitude mindset, which also helps your general well-being.
7 I feel proud of myself when . . .
It can be easy to forget to recognize your own accomplishments. This prompt acts as a reminder, and that can give you a mental boost.
8 If I could instantly change one thing about my life, it would be . . .
Focusing on one aspect of your life you want to improve can make it easier, and less taxing, to tackle.
9 List many things that make you happy
Jot down fifteen to twenty things that bring you joy, such as your favorite go-to movies or cherished memories. Again, reminding yourself about the good things in life is a great way to shift gears, alleviate worry, and boost your mood.
10 The last time I laughed really hard was when . . .
You’ve heard the saying that “laughter is the best medicine.” By that token, reflecting on something that sent you into a fit of giggles could uplift your mood and relieve anxiety. Recounting the anecdote in detail might even elicit a renewed bout of laughter in the moment.
11 I take care of myself by . . .
By looking at this area of your life, you can understand if it needs more regular, or more targeted, effort. This helps address your long-term well-being.
12 Rate your stress level from one to ten and write about why you gave it that rating
Sometimes slowing down and letting yourself understand what you’re feeling can help you work through it, or at least hold space for it in a way that isn’t activating.
13 What’s something I want more of in my life, and how can I work toward that?
Taking the time to consider where you want to go in life, and how you might get there, can calm anxieties about the future.
14 The most calm and relaxed I’ve ever felt was when . . .
If you’re in the middle of a high-pressure situation, reflecting on better times can feel good—but it also tells you more about what type of self-care works well for you.
15 Write a letter to your future self
Giving yourself the space to dream about who you might become can provide a nice escape from everyday life. Plus, you can adapt the letter to your needs: It can help you work through your fears, consider ways forward, and even let yourself imagine a future where you’ve accomplished your highest goals.
>>Read More: Writing Prompts for Self-Reflection