If you struggle to get your days off to a good start, reflecting with these morning journal prompts can help.
A morning journaling practice is a wonderful way to begin a new day with clarity and purpose. It can help you work through any thoughts and feelings that are clouding your mind, and can also help you realign your to-do list with your goals and values.
If you’re new to journaling (or you’re just looking for new ideas), these prompts will help you make the most of your writing session. They can be especially helpful if your brain is a little slow to start in the early hours!
So make yourself a hot cup of coffee and read on to discover some of my favourite morning journal prompts and how they can be used to transform your day.
Why Should I Journal In the Morning?
What you do in the morning sets the tone for your day. Taking the time to be intentional by slowing down and reflecting can help you feel more control and ease—even when you have a lot on your plate.
This is because one of the many benefits of journaling is that it helps you process your emotions. Getting everything out of your head and onto paper gives you perspective. When you can see the big picture, you’re less likely to act from fear and insecurity and more likely to be led by your values.
You feel less overwhelmed by life because instead of reacting impulsively to all the demands on your time, you can set the pace. Knowing the why behind your to-do list can help you focus, while understanding your needs and emotions helps you prioritise.
In short, journaling in the morning is an opportunity to pause at the beginning of your day. It gives you a chance to identify and plan for challenges so that they don’t derail you and reflect on your blessings so you can embrace the day with a grateful heart.
Or if you’re not feeling particularly grateful today, that’s OK too. Writing in the morning can be an act of self-kindness and a reminder to give yourself grace during difficult times.
6 Morning Journal Prompts and Ideas
Here are some of my favourite morning journal prompts, along with tips on how and when to use them.
1. How do I want to feel when I go to bed tonight?
Use when: You feel stuck, unsure, or even a bit lost.
Whenever you’re in a rut, a morning journaling exploration of how you want to feel (rather than what you want to achieve) is a great first step to lifting your mood. I find this is especially helpful when I wake up feeling restless, frustrated, or directionless.
To do this, start by imagining that you’re in bed at the end of the day and you’re about to close your eyes. Take a deep breath and then exhale. How do you want to feel at that moment?
This works best when you’re as specific as possible about your feelings. So, for example, instead of saying happy, you could write down that you want to feel accomplished or connected.
I’ve found that simply naming the feeling I want can completely change the tone of my day, but you can also take things a step further by brainstorming simple actions that will support you.
For example, checking a small but annoying task off your to-do list might be enough to make you feel accomplished, even if you don’t have time for much else. Or planning to meet a friend for lunch might be just the thing to transform a day full of emails into a day of meaningful connection.
2. What season of life am I in?
Use when: You’re feeling overwhelmed by your to-do list.
We all have times when we feel overwhelmed by the weight of our responsibilities. There’s so much that we want to do and be—but never enough time to get it all done.
If you can relate, then try experimenting with this journal prompt in the morning. Before you open your diary or your to-do list, close your eyes and take one minute to picture a tree changing throughout the seasons.
Imagine tiny green buds in the spring, lush foliage on a warm summer day, rich colours in autumn, and the stark silhouette of bare branches on a cold winter night.
When you’re done, think about your own life and ask yourself, “What season am I in?”
- Are you in a season of caring for others?
- A season of resting while you heal from physical or emotional trauma?
- A season of growth in your career or professional life?
There are no right or wrong answers, but knowing your season can help you feel more at ease.
You see—finding balance in life isn’t about working at everything and trying to do it all. Instead, it’s the exact opposite.
Living a balanced life means knowing when to drop some things and when to pick up others depending on what season you’re in right now. It gives you permission to focus on what you need most and clarity to choose a few things to let go of (for a while, at least).
This isn’t always easy (many things in the modern world don’t respect the seasonality of life) but focus on what you can control. For example, maybe this is a season for saying ‘no’ to social engagements or spending less time cleaning.
Acknowledging life’s seasonality and where you are in that rhythm can, with practice, release you from the guilt that comes with wanting to do it all.
Journaling Tip: When working through this journal prompt, ask yourself if you need rest, if you need to work, if you need to spend time with family or friends, or if you need to be alone right now.
3. Today I am excited to…
Use when: You need a pick-me-up.
This gratitude prompt is perfect for lack-lustre mornings. Whether it’s your first day back at work after a holiday or you’re generally feeling a little low, this morning journal prompt can help change your outlook.
It’s powerful because, as humans, we have a negativity bias. We are hard-wired to focus more on the negative things in life than the positive things. So how can we overcome this?
By putting extra attention on the positive in the morning and throughout the day as well.
Note that this isn’t about false positivity or blocking out negative emotions. (Those feelings are important too!) But it is about creating a level playing field.
Because of the negativity bias, we need to give our good feelings a little ‘boost’, so get out a pen and paper and list all the things you’re excited about today.
Journaling Tip: If you’re struggling to feel excited, try getting your senses involved. Imagine a warm cup of coffee pressed between your palms, the sound of the birds on your way to work, the sun shining on your skin—and see if it doesn’t change the way you feel.
4. Today I get to…
Use when: You’re feeling burdened or resentful.
This is a slight variation on the previous prompt, and it requires a bit of mental gymnastics, but it’s worth it. So get out your journal and think about things that you have to do today … and see if you can reframe your thoughts about the situation.
For example, this morning, it was my turn to take the kids to daycare, and my first reaction was to complain inwardly. (They walk so slow, I have so much to get done, etc.)
The mental chatter continued for a few minutes, but you know what? All it did was make me feel worse about something that had to be done, whether I wanted to or not.
So I took a deep breath, wrote out this prompt, and this is what came out:
- Today I get to hear the joy in my daughter’s voice when she says hello to dogs on the walk to school.
- Today I get to start my morning with a short walk in the sunshine.
- Today I get to spend an extra 10 minutes holding hands with my daughter.
- Today I get to see how confident my daughter’s becoming as she walks into class and waves to her friends.
And honestly, it changed everything. (I’m actually tearing up a bit as I write this!) I know that it’s a bit cliche, but I went from feeling burdened to blessed, and all it took was a few minutes of focused thought.
Journaling Tip: Don’t forget to acknowledge if you are currently living out a past goal or dream! We so seldom celebrate our wins. Highlighting that you can do something you once aspired to will get your day off to a winning start.
5. I am challenged by…
Use when: You’re struggling.
There’s a productivity saying, ‘eat the frog’ that loosely applies to this journaling prompt. The meaning behind it is that you should do the most difficult thing on your to-do list first.
By making your challenges the focus of your morning journal prompt, you’re ‘eating the frog’ but in a more mindful way. When you write about what challenges you, it is helpful to explore why and how you will overcome the challenge—but you should also write out what it will mean to you or your life.
Doing so will help you visualise the emotional side of completing your challenge, as well as put it in perspective. This is helpful for tasks that help you make progress towards a larger goal—it’s a reminder that you are facing this challenge because you choose to and it’s worth it.
If those words don’t ring true to your situation, you may need to re-evaluate whether the challenge fits with your values and goals. In the end, you’ll learn the all-important why behind the challenge or understand that it may not serve you and start thinking about how you might let it go.
6. Write it all out
Use When: You don’t know what to do next.
When your mind is full of stress, worries and endless responsibilities, it can leave you feeling scattered or suffocated. You can’t focus, so you feel frozen—or you feel frantic, moving from one thing to another without any clear direction.
When I feel this way, I find that free-writing helps.
Free-writing is a popular morning journal prompt because it allows you to go into your day with more clarity. The idea behind free-writing is just as it sounds—you simply write out all of your thoughts without editing until there is nothing left.
Some people call this practice ‘Morning Pages’ or ‘stream of consciousness writing’ and limit the activity by a set number of pages or a timer, but the idea is the same. You don’t focus on the content, coherence or grammar; you simply write as you think.
I find that it’s powerful because it allows your brain to unload without expectations. It’s a bit like ranting to a friend after a long day—sometimes you just need to get things off your chest, and then you can move on.
I also find that sometimes, free-writing can unearth feelings or random thoughts that my conscious brain has been ignoring. In fact, much of the insight in this post about the real cause of my clutter came from long free-writing sessions.
How To Create a Morning Journaling Routine
You don’t have to be a morning person to benefit from a morning journal practice. In fact, journaling in the morning might actually make the early hours more enjoyable for you. All you need to do is grab a pen and notebook and start writing.
Here are a few things that might help make the habit stick:
- Incorporate a morning journal practice into an existing routine. For example, if you start your day by brewing a hot drink, sit down with your journal while your drink is stepping or cooling.
- Another neat trick is to lay your journal out the night before so that it’s ready when you wake up. My friend Melissa does this and has even created a ‘meditation station’ at home for her journaling and mindfulness practices (check it out!).
- Have a list of journal prompts ready to go. Often the hardest part of getting started is deciding what to write about, so being prepared is essential. (Keep reading for a list of even more journal prompts.)
- Add a ritual to your routine. Things that stimulate the senses—a candle, a soft lamp, a warm drink—will make the practice more enjoyable, so that you look forward to doing it.
- Take imperfect action. Maybe you can’t spend 20 minutes with your journal every morning, and that’s OK. As the saying goes, start where you can with what you can. Don’t let “perfect” keep you from taking that first step.
That’s the most important thing to remember. These morning journal prompts are a great inspiration, but ultimately to keep your practice effective and sustainable – find ways to make these prompts and tips personal so that they work for you.
Tips + Resources for Your Morning Journaling
If you want to learn more about journaling, here are some additional tips and journal prompts you might enjoy:
- 5 Ways to Use Your Journal For Self Care
- 7 Mindful Journaling Prompts to Calm An Anxious Mind
- Self Care Journal Prompts For When Times Are Tough
- 11 Life-Changing Journaling Tips For Beginners
- 21 Journaling Ideas + Prompts For Self-Discovery
What is your favourite morning journal prompt? I’d love to hear your ideas in the comments!