Emotional Well-being Through Journaling

My hope for you, as you read today is that you will get a new appreciation and understanding for your own emotional well-being. Plus, I’m sharing a whole list of emotional well-being journaling prompts that you can use over the next few days and weeks. 

What is Emotional Well Being?

I could be wrong, but I think the phrase emotional well-being is used by academics who study psychology. 

I don’t know if the average person uses the phrase “emotional well-being” in everyday conversation with their friends and family. Do you?

I remember hearing an interview with a gratitude researcher, who has studied psychology his entire career, who said that the study of happiness or positive psychology is a relatively new concept within the last few decades, and prior to that Academia did not really study the idea of happiness. 

So maybe that’s a clue to why the term emotional well-being is in existence. I like the idea of emotional well-being because it isn’t “happy all the time.” Not expecting ourselves to always be happy is accurate for the human experience. We are not happy all the time. 

As I was looking for information and definitions about emotional well-being I also saw the phrase emotional intelligence. I think these two phrases go together very nicely because they imply that we can be happy, content, satisfied when we are, and when those emotions are appropriate. The concepts of emotional well-being and emotional intelligence are also about recognizing and accepting all the other emotional states that we experience as humans too.

Last week I shared about resilience and before that allowing emotions. All of these skills combined lead to emotional well-being.

The textbook definition of emotional well-being is the “ability to produce positive emotions, moods, thoughts, and feelings, and adapt when confronted with adversity and stressful situations.”

Emotional intelligence includes the ability to understand and regulate emotions. 

Why Emotional Well Being Matters?

So now that we know the textbook definition and my theory on the origins of the phrase, why am I bringing it into our casual, everyday conversation? Why does emotional well-being matter and what does it have to do with journaling?

Having emotional intelligence and balancing your emotional well-being gives you so many benefits. You can maintain a better outlook on life.

You can also experience less depression and more satisfaction. Just those 2 benefits alone make this a worthwhile use of my time, and hopefully yours!

We are naturally predisposed to look for problems and threats.

That’s our primal brain’s negative attribution bias.  If we never stop to notice those negative assumptions are happening, we might just continue thinking those threat and problem thoughts (and then experiencing the effects of those thoughts) without ever stopping to redirect ourselves. 

This is where the skill of balancing emotional well-being comes in. Once we are aware of the effects of thinking negative thoughts, and leaning towards the fear, worry and feeling threatened, with awareness, we can course correct. We can redirect our thinking. We can create habits and patterns to be intentional about what lives rent free in our minds. We can evict whatever we don’t like.

Nature or Nurture?

Researchers have asked the question if emotional well-being is a skill or a personality trait – so I’ll pause and ask you. 

Do you think some of us are genetically predisposed with a tendency for emotional well-being? Or do we learn emotional well-being and pick it up through our upbringing and environment?

Maybe a more simplified way to think about it is: are you born with  emotional well-being or can you develop and grow your emotional well-being?

I think the answer can be both. I think journaling can help you recognize if you tend to innately possess emotional well-being. Journaling can also help you recognize ways to increase your emotional well-being. Both kinds of awareness and recognition are so helpful and will continue to benefit you in the future.

Opposite of Well-being

What’s the opposite of well being? Ill being? Unwell?

Without emotional well-being, you may feel emotionally unwell.This might manifest in anxiety, depression, and loneliness. 

Another way to think about this, if you’re feeling emotionally unwell,you could be feeling hurt. We’ve all heard the expression “hurt people hurt people”

That expression is probably talking about people who are emotionally unwell, or in other words, people who have not found a way to balance their emotional well-being. 

How to Balance

One way to balance emotional well-being is just to notice and think about when things seem unbalanced or balanced. 

You know about the law of polarity, right? That everything in our existence has 2 sides? Good and bad, up and down, in and out. 

Calling it a law makes it sound mandatory, which feels a little rigid. 

You don’t have to think about it in terms of a law, you can also think of it as a continuum, with opposites at each end. 

Or, you can just think of 2 sides of a coin. 

However you want to picture this law, or concept in your mind, it serves as a good reminder that everything is not always one way or the other. So, when things seem bad, we know they won’t always be that way. When things are great, we can be so thankful, because we accept there are (and will be) not so great times too. Even though it seems like we might, we don’t really want perfect all the time. 

Why We Don’t Want Perfect All the Time

A few years ago I was listening to a workshop or book by Pema Chodron. She is a Tibetan-Buddhist nun who is also a teacher and an author. I can’t remember exactly what it was or where I found it, so as I describe it, if you recognize it, please share it with me so I can direct other people to it. 

She described the mental experience of creating a perfect place for ourselves. What if we were in a room that had everything we liked and wanted and nothing we didn’t like or want. And everything was beautiful and perfect and wonderful. 

Sounds great right?! But, she also described how if we had such a place, we wouldn’t really be able to leave it after a while because when we were out in the “real world,” we would encounter everything we had edited and ejected from our perfect space. We would encounter annoying sounds and unmet expectations and they would bug us and stress us out. 

And I think those annoyances would be even worse because we would have become so accustomed to not experiencing them.

Created Perfection

I frequently think about that description because in some ways, I know I have created that “perfection” for myself by creating the life I want for myself. 

I make my own schedule. I choose who I want to work with and when I want to work. I live in a beautiful home with everything I want and need. I have great relationships with people I like and love. Things are really going my way and I’m so, so lucky. 

And then, when something unfortunate or unexpected happens, I sometimes feel like I’m out of practice about how to deal with it!

I’ve made my life so easy for myself, that when something hard comes along, it seems really hard for me -much harder than it probably would have been 8 or 10 years ago. 

My easy life example, that feels so much harder when it is hard, is an argument for maintaining balance and therefore have a more emotionally even well-being – instead of feeling disappointed or surprised when my expectations are not met.

Not Always Passionate about Passions

I don’t always have to be passionate about my passions. Every aspect of my interests don’t need to be interesting.

For example, I frequently (or always) experience the messy middle when I paint. I get to a point and think “ this looks terrible. I don’t know how to fix it or finish it.” I’m faced with the choice of pushing through the discomfort or abandoning the painting. When I do push through, I usually end up with something I’m so proud of.

Another example is that I have to drive and deal with annoying traffic to get to a really great destination, or I have the long drive home after a great trip.

Journaling and Emotional Well-being

So how can journaling, specifically, help balance our emotional well-being?

If you journal in the morning, like I do, you can set your emotional well-being intention for the day. I do this especially when I think the day will be stressful or when I am nervous about how a specific interaction or event will go. 

I write out the best case scenario with details about my preferred way that something will play out. 

This orients my mind to the positive. It gives me a glimpse of what’s possible. It helps to balance out that worry and fear that might naturally come up. 

I do this in the morning, but I’ve also done it mid day if I’m especially freaking out about something later in the day. You can do this whenever you want. And you don’t need to be a consistent jouranler to do this exercise. You could write your emotional well-being intention for 1 thing, 1 time a year and still get the benefits. (But I hope you’ll do it more often).

One Sided Writing

Notice when your writing is one-sided. When it’s too vent-y or complain-y, create some balance. 

And, this one might seem less intuitive, but when it’s too bright and easy and happy, go ahead and dig around a little for some dirt or drama and include that too. 

Life is not always vent and complain-worthy or bright and easy. We get a mix. We can let our journals reflect that mix. 

5 Signals of Emotional Well-Being

All of these make excellent journal prompts. Just in the 5 topics I’m about to share, you could write a month full of daily journal entries for yourself. 


How is your stress level? Can you differentiate between good stress and bad stress? (Here’s another chance for balance!)


Are you allowing yourself to get enough sleep? This is a different question from “are you sleeping well?” This question is more about if you decide to put yourself to bed at a reasonable and consistent time each night. Do you decline any sleep-hindering elements (like caffeine, sugar, rumination, blue light, intense TV or books, etc)?

Social Connections

Who are you connecting with socially? And how, why and when do you connect? Are you leaving your interactions feeling recharged or drained? Do you want and need more or fewer social connections at this time in your life? Who can you reconnect with? Who can you disconnect from?


Do you give and receive support? Do you know what support would be most helpful to you? Do you know the best way you are able to offer support to others?


This means breathing and/or satisfaction. Are you remembering to breathe? Do you notice yourself feeling content throughout the day? If not, why not?

Your Next Step

Check in with yourself to notice your current emotional well-being. Decide if there’s anything that needs to be balanced or re-aligned.

Consider using those 5 Signals for Emotional Well-being as journal topics over the next few days, weeks or even for a whole month!

Featured Notebook

This week’s featured notebook is What Do You Want & Why

In addition to the royalties I earn with the sale of these products, as an Amazon Associate, I may also earn a small commission from qualifying purchases (which could happen if you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase). This does NOT result in any additional cost to you.

It’s a get to know yourself journal. Each set of pages contains the question “why” 3 times for you to consider and really go deeper about what you want.