A collection of 40 journal prompts to inspire those who are living with chronic illness. Focused on self-love, acceptance, reflection, and growth, these prompts are intended to help you gain insight and self-compassion.
Do you journal specifically about your chronic illness?
According to the American Psychological Association, expressive writing has been proven to help with boosting immune health and supporting the overall health of those with chronic illness, such as asthma or arthritis.
Throughout my whole life I’ve been journaling on and off. Typically, the journal entries have been more auto-biographies about what happened and when and who said what and the things I was doing in the day. The middle school journal years are especially rich with the injustices that 11 year old Laura felt.
Never did I think to use journaling in a proactive manner as a means of self-reflection and better understanding of myself.
So a little bit ago, I started to change the manner in which I would journal. I used to be a skeptic of this. What good would writing down how I feel change anything? I would still be allergic to what feels like everything, it wouldn’t magically make my lungs work, and writing down how I feel about that isn’t going to make me suddenly healthy.
So imagine my surprise that not only did I notice a shift in how I felt about myself, I noticed it sooner than I thought.
For me, the change wasn’t physical, it was a mental shift in how I perceived my own body and my chronic illness.
Journaling for Chronic Illness
If you’re new to this page, hello! I’m Laura and I live with severe asthma, allergies, as well as PCOS. Currently I have about 300 allergies to food and non food things, and my life has been altered because of them.
Needless to say, if you have a chronic illness, or are close to someone who has one, you know how exhausting it can be. I personally struggle with the balancing act of doing too much and not enough; feeling bad for what I won’t be able to accomplish and super proud for what I can.
As Lisa Marie Basile says, “Who we feel we are within our minds is not always what our bodies reflect. And sometimes, that very lack of reconciliation rewires us. We start to believe we cannot, are not, will not.”
For years, I tried to pretend that my allergies and asthma weren’t as bad as they seemed, especially around my friends and extended family. I would push myself beyond limits I should have in an effort to be seen as “normal” and would come home sick and exhausted, needing days to recover.
After years of this, it all backfired and I ended up leaving my life in Los Angeles because of how sick I had become.
Now I’ve begun to seek out new definitions of healthy and how I can make my body the best that my body can be. Will I ever be cured? No. But I can make my life uniquely its own that best suits me.
Want to learn more about allergies and asthma?
What to Write About
If you’ve never kept a journal before, or maybe haven’t picked one up since childhood, this isn’t just writing to write about what you did that day or what you ate (though you can if you want!).
Purposeful journaling is a practice of self-reflection and self-therapy in that it allows us to vent what is happening to us, recognize the things we can control or change, accept the things we can’t, and gives us the freedom to do so without judgement or worry about what others will think.
Writing gives us the space to be ourselves, with no edit button or wondering about how we can say things to make other people feel comfortable with how we are feeling and thinking. By allowing ourselves to be this open, we invite the opportunity for reflection and growth.
The more I journal, the more I am discovering about myself. Without getting too personal, I’m really accepting my asthma and allergies for the first time in my life, accepting my body for what it is, and really coming to a space of loving it. And not loving it “in spite” of my chronic illnesses. Just loving and accepting me for me. Which has had some outward transformations as well in that I am becoming a better advocate for myself.
Do I Have to Write?
No! You don’t actually have to write in a journal if you don’t want to. Studies have shown that even talking into a voice recorder can have the same positive effects on your well being. Talk it out, type it up on a computer, or write in a book. Whatever works best for you, your time, and your body.
The Journal Prompts
These journal prompts are ones that I have been working through. Some of them are about chronic illness, pain, and management of disease in the body. Others are about gratitude. And still more are about self-love.
They have been collected from other journal prompts on the internet and changed slightly to better reflect self-love, acceptance, and living with chronic illness. If one of them doesn’t quite work for you, change it up! These are just ideas to get you started.
None of them will stop the feelings of grief, pain, trauma, or anger. It’s my hope that they give you some insight and self-compassion.
We are all doing the best we can on any given day given the circumstances.
Begin with one or two a day only a few times a week and see where your writing takes you.
40 Journal Prompts for Chronic Illness
- Are you feeling pain or exhaustion in your body? Is the pain due to a feeling? Acknowledge the pain and see what you can do to change it if possible.
- What are 10 things you are very good at doing?
- What can you control at this moment? Can you control things to help your pain or stress levels?
- What are 5 things you love about yourself?
- Write a letter to your body. What would you say to your body as it has changed over the years?
- Create a double page spread of all the things you can use when you need stress relief, anxiety help, or have a bad mental day. Grab some coloring tools and doodle. Make this list a reference page for yourself to always come back to.
- Write down your vision for your dream life. Don’t be afraid to get crazy and out of the box.
- How has your perception of your illness changed over the years?
- What are 3 goals you want to accomplish by the end of the year?
- What have you endured and survived in your life regarding your illness?
- Write out a list of 10 things you are grateful and thankful for.
- Imagine a haven for yourself. What does it look like?
- Write out a list of 5 people who have positively impacted your life. What have they done specifically for you that make you thankful?
- Take notice of your 5 senses. What can you hear right now? Do you taste anything right now? What can you smell, feel, and see?
- How can you love yourself more?
- Who are you with your chronic illness?
- What is something you can forgive yourself for?
- Who are you without your chronic illness?
- What do you love most about your life?
- Write the things you notice about yourself on a good day? What about a bad day?
- Write yourself a love letter.
- How can I better balance my life between good and bad days?
- What are 15 compliments you can give yourself?
- How can I help others understand my chronic illness?
- What is something you have achieved in life you are proud of?
- Is there anything you do not feel comfortable talking about in regards to your illness?
- What are 5 things that make you happy?
- Who do I have in my life who understands my chronic illness and I feel comfortable sharing with them?
- Describe yourself positively in 10 words.
- What are my boundaries?
- My favorite way to spend the day is by …
- How does my illness affect my relationships with friends and family? With my dating or sex life?
- What does unconditional love look like for you?
- Make a list of what you love about your body.
- What would you do if you loved yourself unconditionally?
- Make a list of everything you want to say “no” to.
- Make a list of everything you want to say “yes” to.
- What is one topic you always wanted to learn more about?
- What inspires you? How can you bring more of that into your life?
- Write yourself a thank you letter.