30 Journaling Prompts to Help Get Through the Holidays 3

THERE’S NO DOUBT ABOUT IT. Even when you are happily anticipating the celebrations, family gatherings and downtime from work, the holidays can be stressful. This year, because of the deep philosophical and political divides that emerged during the recent elections, stress levels are running particularly high. And if you are one of the millions of people who dread the holidays because of association with loss or other negative memories, these next six to eight weeks can feel like a gauntlet you must pass through each year.

Whether the holidays are a time of joy for you or not, the following 30 journaling prompts on Holidays, Family and Relationships, Travel, and Gratitude will help you uncover the underlying thoughts and beliefs that affect your holiday experiences.

Writing reflectively can provide an outlet for your stress as well as a place and space for healing. Why not give yourself the gift of a few minutes each day to write? Browse the prompts for one that resonates, and then begin writing.

30 Journaling Prompts for the Holidays

On Holidays in General

  • Perform a word association exercise with the word “holidays.” Do you notice any patterns or trends in the words you wrote down? Write a paragraph about what you notice.
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, where 1 represents sadness and 10 represents joy, what number would you assign to yourself during the holidays? What experiences and influences have affected your feelings and attitudes about this time of year?
  • What are your holiday plans this year? Are you excited or nervous? Resistant or welcoming? Who is involved and what are your feelings about those people? Explore the background behind those feelings, negative or positive. (See journaling prompts on family and relationships below.)
  • What is different for you this year from previous years? How do you feel about this change? Do you perceive the change as positive or negative? Write about what this change means for you long term.
  • Often, holiday gatherings are centered around food. What is your relationship to food and how does this relationship affect your feelings about the holidays?
  • Do you experience conflict between your feelings about the holidays and others’ expectations? If so, describe the conflict and brainstorm a list of as many solutions as you can. Brainstorming means not judging the solutions, no matter how outrageous they seem when you think of them—just write them all down. Then, look over the list and see if any seem possible. Explore what finding a solution to this conflict would mean for you.
  • Perhaps the holidays are a bittersweet experience for you, triggering feelings of both loss and joy. If holidays bring up feelings of loss and grief, write about that grief. What or whom did you lose? Are there ways you could honor that person or loss in your life during the holidays that would help soften the pain? What kinds of things comfort you in this situation? Write a conversation with yourself in which the “whole you” speaks comfort to the “hurt you.”

[bctt tweet=”Journaling helps you to get beneath surface answers and develop new ways of seeing.”]

hands-437968_1280On Family and Other Relationships

  • Write down five words that describes your relationship with your family of birth. Then expand on that by writing a paragraph for each word.
  • How do you see your role in your family? Do you play the role of family caretaker? Or perhaps you’re an instigator? Write about your role and your feelings about it. Do you wish things were different? If so, describe how family life would be if you had things your way.
  • In general, how do you cope with stressful family situations? Do you look for healing solutions or do you avoid them? Do you access external resources, such as therapy or do you feel you can handle things on your own? What kinds of feelings arise when you think about crisis in general?
  • Write about the last time your family was together during the holidays. What happened? Who was involved? What did you do or not do? Write about your feelings and what you think the feelings of others might have been. How did it turn out? Did you learn anything?
  • In your family, what needs healing? Write about why you believe this.
  • Describe how you express your love and appreciation to people in your life. Cards? Flowers? Actions? Other ways? How do you feel you could improve or extend that expression of appreciation? What would it take to express appreciation more often?
  • If you found out today that you had one week to live, what things undone would you finish? Who would you want to talk to? And where and with whom would you want to be in your final moments? What do your choices reveal about you at this time in your life?
  • Do your relationships tend to be interdependent or interconnected? How can understanding the difference help you manage your relationships through the holidays?
  • A while back, I came across a YouTube video titled “Validation.” Watch the video (it’s sixteen minutes long and well worth the time). Here’s the link: Validation (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cbk980jV7Ao). How might the practice of validation change your holiday experiences?

airport-1515431_1280Prompts to Use While Traveling

  • While you’re waiting in line or in a boarding area, eavesdrop on others’ conversations. What do you notice about others’ perceptions of the holidays and/or their relationships? Write down interesting things you hear, and include notes about accents and inflections.
  • Describe the scene around you using all your senses. What does it look like? Is it noisy or quiet? What are some of the background noises you hear that you might not otherwise notice? What about smells? What’s the temperature like? How does your seat feel? Be fully present in the moment.
  • Keep a list of every unusual thing you see: signs, costumes, actions people take, items in store windows, etc. Select three of those items and make up a holiday story around them.
  • Write down descriptions of the travelers around you. Then, make up stories about their lives. Let your imagination run wild. Think up something unusual. Where are they traveling? What do they do for a living? What do they love and hate? What motivates them in life?
  • Bring some colored pencils along and sketch the scenes around you. Don’t think you’re artistic? Do it like a child, with stick figures and box buildings. Add the sun and clouds. Think fun! Drawing is a great stress reliever.
  • Pretend you’re writing an article for your favorite magazine. With your holiday travels in mind, what would you write about? Traveling with children in tow? How to travel most comfortably? The science of travel? How to keep communication civil when tempers flare? Make up ten article titles. Then, if you have time, write a first draft of one of those articles.

celebrate-954787_1280On Gratitude

  • Create two columns on a page. In the left column, write a list of ten things that are important to you. In the right column for each item, write about how you can honor and practice gratitude on a regular basis.
  • Remember an event or time in your life that was difficult for you. In what ways are you now thankful that event occurred? What did you gain from it? In what ways might you look at a current difficult event in your life differently?
  • List five ways in which your life is abundant.
  • Name one person that you love. Now write about all the reasons and ways you love that person. If you have time, continue to write about people you love.
  • Which part of your body do you like the least? List 5 reasons to be grateful for that body part.
  • Write a free-verse poem expressing gratitude for something.
  • Make a list of all the things you have that money can’t buy. In what ways are you thankful for these things, and why are they important to you?
  • What actions can you take to develop or increase an ongoing sense of gratitude within yourself?

All of the above prompts and variations thereof can be found in Week by Week: A Year’s Worth of Journaling Prompts and Meditations.


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