Journaling Through Stress

When I set up my current journal, I decided it would be my happy place. The bright yellow cover is so cheery that I get positive vibes just from looking at it. However, life is real, and it can bring a lot of stress or anxiety. It can throw things at you like a tropical storm headed directly for your house while your husband is out of town. Yikes, hello there, anxiety! So in times like this, I turn to my journal (AKA my happy place). Journaling through stress is a great way to work through your emotions or find a little distraction.

Journaling through stress is a great way to deal with your emotions or find a little distraction. These 17 journaling ideas are great for stress relief!

17 Things You Can Do with Your Journal in Times of Stress

I’m going to divide this into two categories: things you can do to work through your stress or emotions, and things you can do when you need a distraction.

Journaling Through Stress: Emotional Support

  • Journal. This one might be obvious, but you can write about how you’re feeling and whatever is triggering you. Or you can go the other way and pick a completely random topic to write about. Just write!
  • Make a timeline. Write down events as they happen, or think back on what has already occurred and record it all. In some situations it never hurts to have a little documentation, and sometimes it’s just good to see things written down.
  • Brain Dump Page. Turn to the next empty page in your journal and just write down every thing that you are worried about and everything that’s bothering you. Don’t censor, and don’t stop until you’re done! It can be easier to get around your obstacles or solve your problems when you can see them all at once, especially since your brain should be done thinking of what ifs.
  • Make a plan! You’re a planner, right? Now that you’ve got a list of all the problems, plan your way around them. Make contingency plans. If things go bad, you’ll already have your solutions ready!
  • Write a letter to whatever is agitating you. In my case it would be “Dear Tropical Storm Cindy, GO AWAY!!!” No one else needs to see this, so take this opportunity to really tell off the situation.
  • Think positive. Look for the silver linings and make a list of all the positives from your current situation. Yes, it sucks, but there has to be some good in it somewhere. For example, after all these many inches of rain, we won’t need to water our yard any time soon!

Journaling Through Stress: Distractions!

  • Make a list of your favorite TV shows. Pick one to binge, and draw out an episode tracker so you can binge your way through them all.
  • Draw some zentangles. These are some of my favorite pages to do when I’m stressed. There’s something about drawing a repeating pattern over and over that just makes my brain feel so much better.

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  • Color. You can either draw your own picture to color, or cut one out of a coloring book to put in your journal.
  • Make a wishlist. Have there been some fun journaling supplies catching your eye lately? Make a list of the goodies (either for journaling or not) you wish you could go shopping for right now.
  • Make a washi tape sample page. Ah yes, washi tape — the potato chips of journaling. You know you can’t have just one! Make a page full of your samples, and if you want to get really creative, think of a neat way to put them on there. I think the best one I’ve seen so far was where someone cut the washi tape into little flags and made banners out of them.
  • Watercolor. Practice your watercolor skills and make a new piece of art right in the middle of your journal! Pick something specific to paint, or go abstract!
  • Design new weekly spreads. I don’t know about you, but I love coming up with new designs to use for my weekly spreads. If you don’t want them in the middle of your journal, flip to the back of your book and start a catalog of sorts. Then when you’re ready to make the spread for next week you’ll have a few samples to choose from!
  • Make a new collection or list. There’s always something to make a list for! If you need some ideas, I’ve got quite a few in this post here.
  • Make a collage. Grab your old magazines and make a collage like you used to do in school! You can give it a theme, or just add whatever appeals to you. If you want to take it a step further, you can turn it into a vision board.
  • Quotes! Make a list of your favorite quotes. Give them a theme, like fitness quotes, love quotes, music quotes, etc. Hop online and start searching for some new ones. You can make the list simple, or you can take that as an opportunity to practice some handlettering.

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  • Self-Care. You’re super-stressed or anxious right now, aren’t you? Don’t forget to take care of yourself. Make a list of things you can do in this moment to get yourself some self-care. Eat, drink something, give yourself a little treat, take a walk (although don’t do that if you’ve got a storm right on top of you!). My friend Erin has a list of 8 simple self-care ideas you’ll definitely want to check out.

We get a lot of bad weather and storms here in the south, and that’s what really sets off my stress and anxiety. I’m glad that in times like this, with Cindy about to knock on our door, I’ve got my journal (and a list of things to do!) to help me get through it all. Journaling through stress can really be a positive outlet for us all!

How about you? What are your favorite things to do for journaling through stress? Tell me below in the comments!

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About Samantha

I am a SAHM to three kids and a menagerie of pets. I love coffee, books, crafts, wine, cooking, and more coffee. Seriously, I couldn't function without coffee. Read more about me!


  1. I like these ideas! I needed this today.

  2. I really enjoyed reading this! Especially the brain dump page. That’s something I could really use 🙂

    • Thank you, Corinne! Sometimes it helps to just get everything out on paper. Then you can organize yourself a little better. 🙂

  3. Great post. I love journaling…it’s always been a way for me to let out my emotions without yelling at someone lol. I feel that you can do so much with your journal and it’s great, because it’s personal, it’s yours and you can say whatever you want into it. Loved reading this.

    • I totally agree about journaling! I use mine as a brain dump/memory keepsake, but it’s also great for just letting it all out before I explode. 🙂 I’m so glad you enjoyed this, Marvina!

  4. Great ideas Samantha! Journaling, actually art, had always been a stress relief for me… I also feel better sharing some of my most trying experiences with others in goes to help them through their problems or stressors! Love this post!

    • I agree! Through bullet journaling I’ve also found an artsy side, and it’s so relaxing for me to sit down and do a pretty page, or just write all my crazy thoughts down. Thanks, Christa!

  5. Yes! I have the Passion Planner and I do all of this in there. I absolutely love it! It really helps me maintain my focus and sanity.

    • Oooo! I have been hearing so much about the Passion Planner! I think it’s time for me to go check it out! Thanks, Kate!

  6. These are really great suggestions. I really need to get back into journaling, and I’ve been excited to start a BuJo and make it a combo of journal/planner/art journal but I have yet to actually do it… Ugh, no motivation for anything. I swear…

    • That’s totally okay, Angie! You’ve got a lot going on right now! 🙂 And that’s kinda what my journal is – a combination of everything. I love it! I hope you get your motivation back! 🙂

  7. Yes to journaling! I just shared a journaling post. I recommend it for almost all of my clients.

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