Iris hummingbird holding a sign that says "Dear Iris".
Navigating Emotions, Everyday Support

Dear Iris: Journaling – How To and Is It Helpful?

Dear Iris,

I’ve just completed radiation treatment. I’m excited to get back to my old routine since treatment is done, but I still don’t have a lot of energy each day. I’m bored with movies and TV! I’m looking to try new activities that are easy to do and will help keep my spirits up while I continue to slowly recover. A friend mentioned the idea of journaling, I’m interested, but want to better understand how to do it and if it could help me while I’m feeling tired and unable to do my typical activities.


Dear T, 

Great to hear your energy's picking up! Post-treatment life isn't quite back to normal, right? Trying out a new hobby could be a fun mood-lifter. It shakes things up, sets a fresh routine, and helps you pass the time while you’re recovering.  

Journaling is an opportunity to help promote a better understanding of your thoughts, help with self-reflection, and assist with processing emotions. By writing (or speaking) your thoughts and emotions, you can come back to your own words when you need them most. Some tips to make journaling more accessible for yourself: Here are 3 key tips in making journaling more accessible and enjoyable: 

  • Personalize Your Space: Create a peaceful and calming environment for journaling. Whether it's lighting a candle, playing soft music, or using your favorite pen. 

  • Choose Your Medium: Remember, journaling doesn't have to be limited to pen and paper. Whether it's typing, voice memos, or another medium that feels right for you. Pick the method that makes journaling interesting for you. 

  • Embrace Imperfection: Give yourself permission to journal without judgment. There's no right or wrong way to express yourself in your journal. It’s okay to just let the words flow onto the page rather than thinking so much about the order or word choice. Try to write without editing and hold back on self-criticism. 

  • For more tips and suggestions, check out: Quick Tip Guide to Start Journaling

 Here are a few journaling prompts to try: 

  • Reflect on Your Strength: Consider what makes you feel strong. Dedicate some time to journal about the places, people, actions, and personal qualities that highlight your strength.  

  • Revisit a Beautiful Memory: Think back to a beautiful place you've visited and describe it in vivid detail. What did you see, smell, and hear? 

  • For more prompts, check out: Writer’s Block? Kickstart Your Journal with 5 Starter Prompts

Journaling is just for you, not for anyone else, and allowing yourself the freedom to see where it takes you can be part of what makes journaling so helpful and healing.

Jessica Fox, MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, APHSW-C

Mental Health Therapist

Iris Oncology

Jessica Fox is an oncology social worker with a decade of experience working with patients and their families. She has earned her Oncology Social Work Certification (OSW-C) and Advanced Palliative and Hospice Social Work Certification (APHSW-C). Jessica has worked for outpatient cancer centers in both Baltimore, MD and Portland, OR.

For more inspiration, see these books and websites – there are many ways to express yourself through journaling! 

  • Start where you are, a journal for self-exploration by Meera Lee Patel 

  • The Self-Compassion Journal: 100 Prompts to Cultivate Mindfulness and Self-Compassion by Erin McCarthy PhD 

  • The 5-minute Gratitude Journal: Give Thanks, Practice Positivity, Find Joy by Sophia Godkin PhD 

  • I am Here Now by Alexandra Frey & Autumn Totton

This article meets Iris standards for medical accuracy. It has been fact-checked by the Iris Clinical Editorial Board, our team of oncology experts who ensure that the content is evidence based and up to date. The Iris Clinical Editorial Board includes board-certified oncologists and pharmacists, psychologists, advanced practice providers, licensed clinical social workers, oncology-certified nurses, and dietitians.