The Best Guided Journals, Picked By Mental Health Pros , young woman writing on notebook at sunset in park

The Best Guided Journals, Picked By Mental Health Pros

Find the best guided journal for you, whether you're hoping to focus on wellness, gratitude, your sensuality — or if you have no idea where to start.
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When is the last time you wrote something just for you? Something tangible, on an actual piece of paper, for your eyes only? Something that required critical thought and self-exploration?

In a world of constant texting, tweeting, emailing, and digitally "engaging," there's a good chance the answer is "a really long time ago." But doing so can serve you well — study after study after study suggests that self-expressive writing in a journal can help reduce intrusive ideas that bring you down, help you ditch toxic habits, relieve stress and anxiety, and help you cultivate the life you want to live.

But, of course, getting started putting a pen to paper is easier said than done. To help inspire your writing, you can grab a blank notebook and try using journal prompts (here are 75 to get you started), or you can turn to a guided journal for even more of an instructional experience.

Here, some of the best guided journals — all approved or recommended by mental health professionals — with boundless pages of prompts to dive into the depths of yourself.

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zen-as-fuck-guided-journal
Credit: Amazon

Zen As F*ck

Buy It, $9

It's no secret why Zen as F*ck is ranked as an Amazon best-seller and sold in stores across all corners of the globe. It's touted as the ideal method for mindfulness for when you simply don't want to deal with the phony rainbows and butterflies crap.

"Zen as F*ck flips toxic positivity on its head," says author Monica Sweeney. "So much of what we see in the world of 'inspiration' demands people to cheer the f*ck up without giving them the space for acknowledgement. Zen as F*ck is a guided journal that has an upbeat attitude, but it gives the writer room to breathe and feel catharsis in a fun and irreverent way."

This guided journal is packed with profanity for a no-bullsh*t brightener to your day. Each page is teeming with toxicity-tanking prompts that get all the stuff in your head out onto paper. It promises to get you "sparkling like the f*cking gem you are" by guiding you to "rise, shine and kick ass." (Related: How to Make Time for Self-Care When You Have None)

sensual-self-guided-journal
Credit: Amazon

Sensual Self

Buy It, $15

Sensual Self, by sexuality doula and sex educator Ev'yan Whitney, is a self-paced journal with more than 150 pages of prompts to help you define sensuality for yourself. If seeking reconnection with your pleasure is on your agenda, this is the guided journal for you.

The journal helps you navigate your inner sense of self with ample room to explore and express your private pleasures and deep desires. Each piece of paper provides a safe space to check in with your mind and body, as well as navigate self-acceptance and self-care.

Questions span everything from "In what ways do you keep your sensuality hidden?" to "What does an enthusiastic 'yes!' feel like in your body?" (Related: How to Start a Sex Journal — and Why You Should)

a-year-of-zen-guided-journal
Credit: Amazon

A Year of Zen

Buy It, $9

"A Year of Zen is a 52-week guided journal that helps writers reflect on time passed," says Boris Mackey, an addiction therapist as well as the editor-in-chief and community outreach manager at Rehab 4 Addiction.

The journal, carefully curated by zen priest and teacher Bonnie Myotai Treace, offers thought-provoking prompts — even including some drawing exercises — to get your creative juices flowing. You have the space to fill each page with self-exploration and reflection each week of the year.

"Within my line of work, my colleagues and I continue to recommend and teach clients about the importance of journaling for mental health," says Mackey. "Guided journals are very useful as they provide prompts and pre-filled pages for those who may struggle with a blank notebook. These prompts can get you thinking and allow you to develop a journaling routine that boosts your mental wellbeing." (See: Why Journaling Is the Morning Routine I Could Never Give Up)

Prompts range topics from "reverence" to "being a curious being" to "evening threshold," diving into the depths of the self with prompts like, "Catch yourself at sundown, light fading from the sky. What does the arrival of night trigger or bring up for you?"

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Amazon
papier-my-wellness-journal-guided
Credit: Papier

My Wellness Journal

Buy It, $28

Papier's My Wellness Journal should be your daily check-in ritual. If you can create space for yourself each day, you can hold space for everything else life will inevitably throw your way. (More of a digital person? Check out these apps for goal-tracking.)

"Papier's My Wellness Journal provides up to 12 weeks to journal with daily check-in space and pages for habit tracking and note-taking," says Mackey. 

Whatever your resolution or upcoming goals, you can use this journal to track your habits, meals, water intake, sleep schedule, and more. If that kind of tracking doesn't feel good to you, instead just focus on what it is that makes you feel grateful and well each day, and celebrate the small wins along the road to your bigger goals. (See: How a Bullet Journal Can Help You Reach Your Goals)

5-minute-gratitude-journal-guided
Credit: Amazon

The 5-Minute Gratitude Journal

Buy It, $11

"The 5-Minute Gratitude Journal can be useful for those who find it hard to dedicate time to journaling," explains Mackey. And he isn't alone in loving this guided journal: "It's ideal for busy people," says Barbara Santini, a psychologist and sex and relationship advisor. "It helps you break patterns of negative thoughts and redirects the mind to think about positive things only in life."

Beyond busy people, Megan Lee, a licensed clinical social worker and cofounder and therapist at Solutions Therapy LLC, says that The 5-Minute Gratitude Journal is also a great resource for anyone experiencing depression, anxiety, difficulty with a life transition, PTSD, and other mental health conditions. 

"[It's] focused on gratitude with daily prompts for morning and evening that include reflection on things you're grateful for, creating affirmations for yourself and plans/highlights of your day," she explains. "Implementing daily gratitude journaling can help shift you into a more positive mindset—focusing on the good things happening in our lives can help us see that there even is good in the first place sometimes…It can help recenter you into the present, build self-esteem, diminish negative self-talk and more."

Lee has used the journal herself, which is why she is confident in recommending it to her clients. She appreciates the daily inspirational quotes and "easy-to-understand and -implement" prompts. (FTR, a bunch of celebs swear by five-minute gratitude journaling, too, including Riverdale's Madelaine Petsch and Camila Mendes.)

Q&A-a-day-guided-journal
Credit: Amazon

Q & A A Day Journal

Buy It, $14

"The idea behind journaling is reflection, and this one gives plenty of that by allowing people to reflect on larger periods of their life," says Brittany Ferri, Ph.D., medical advisor at Medical Solutions BCN who holds a doctorate in integrative mental health. 

While she admits that some people may find this five-year chunk overwhelming, she adds that, if you're using it the right way (i.e. focusing on the now and not dwelling too much on the past), she considers it quite the tool.

And she's not the only expert who swears by it: "This journal has been in my possession for roughly five years," says Elizabeth Lombardo, Ph.D. "I didn't fill out all of it... but it brought back many memories and demonstrated my progress. This is the journal for you if you enjoy reminiscing and writing. That's what the Q&A A Day Journal shows you for five years. After you finish the journal, turn to today's date and answer the question at the top. You'll observe how your responses alter or don't change when you revisit the daily questions over time."

moments-of-gratitude-guided-journal
Credit: Target

Sewn Moments of Gratitude

Buy It, $11

Sewn Moments of Gratitude is a recommendation from Jewell Singletary, founder of Gratitude Griot LLC, which offers a trauma-informed approach to alleviating stress through yoga, meditation, and therapeutic arts, including art journaling.

"I have been journaling for nearly three decades," says Singletary. "The practice has helped me to creatively express myself, develop emotional intelligence, and alleviate my anxiety."

Journaling also helps her students practice being present, she adds. And Sewn Moments of Gratitude is a go-to for them. The journal is full of prompts strategically strung together in a way that leaves your eyes and heart open to the good that engulfs you — once you're willing and wanting to witness it. (More here: Journaling Apps for 'Writing Down' Your Thoughts)

let-that-shit-go-guided-journal
Credit: Amazon

Let That Sh*t Go

Buy It, $9

Let That Sh*t Go, also by Monica Sweeney, is another Amazon best-seller with tens of thousands of rave reviews. The expert-recommended guided journal is the perfect place to literally let it all out.

"Just like the name suggests, this journal helps you let go of the things troubling your mind," says Santini. "This little vulgar journal is ideal for getting rid of your daily frustrations."

Santini says that the book's doodles and prompts are equal-parts hilarious and helpful. They range from "positive procrastination" to "gag to giggles" lists that help you flush out your frustrations and rewrite your own narrative.

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Credit: Amazon

The No-Worries Workbook

Buy It, $15

Worrying is like praying for what you don't want. Yet, it's all too common to worry in anticipation — and arguably, manifestation — of your fears. Nip your worries in the bud with a book that becomes your bud — The No-Worries Workbook.

"This book looks different to all people," says Santini. "It comes with 124 activities, prompts, and lists that can help you manage whatever is disturbing your mind. The activities can help you de-stress and encourage you to become more grateful in life. It teaches you the habit of focusing on positive matters only, making you worry less." (See: Why You Can Definitely Benefit from a Worry Journal)

me-est-me-guided-journal
Credit: Me-est Me

Me-est Me Journal

Buy It, $26

Me-est Me is female-founded and LGBTQ-owned, and the journal is made in Southern California. It's an 88-page guided workbook filled with journal prompts and exercises that intend to help reconnect you with yourself.

"Doing inner work can be tough, so I wanted to create a more accessible way to answer some hard questions," says author Shana Rehwald. "The pages throughout the workbook are devoted to reflecting, gathering and exploring, while also giving you pages to play around with and pause."

Rehwald created the journal after going through a major life transition of her own — divorce.

"Since now we're all going through it [COVID], I decided to create a journal using the tools that helped me reconnect with myself after a major life transition in hopes that it might help others, too," she adds.