Fun fact for you: When my editor asked me to write a piece on journaling for anxiety, I jumped at the chance. Why? Well, This Is One of My Go-To Self Care Ideas (opens in new tab) and I’ve found it to reduce symptoms of anxiety (opens in new tab)stress, and more.
I’ve been testing the exercise for the best part of a year now, writing in my wellness planner (opens in new tab) Almost every day. I’ve found it seriously helps with everything from negative thoughts to worrying about the future – but more on that below.
Why is this relevant to you? Well, I’m not the only one feeling more anxious than ever. The level of anxiety in the UK is at an all-time high pen (opens in new tab) Shows that 1 in 5 Britons feel their mental health and wellbeing has declined over the past few years.
And who blames them? First, it was Covid, and now the life crisis and cost of war in Ukraine. Sadly, statistics also show that women and young adults suffer the most as stress becomes a more normal part of life.
That said, experts assure us that there are 2 myriad ways you can reduce the symptoms of stress and anxiety – as I’ve personally found. Keep scrolling as I share my experience with journaling for anxiety, as well as clinical psychologist xxxx trying it out for herself.
Journaling for Anxiety: Your Guide
What is Journaling for Anxiety?
In essence, it is the practice of writing down your thoughts to reduce your anxiety symptoms. Scared already? Don’t be – this isn’t an essay-length requirement, but rather an exercise in writing down any thoughts and feelings that have consumed your mind.
Whether you prefer to write it by hand or type it on your laptop, jot down your thoughts in the morning or just before bed, finding a method that works for you and your writing style is key. Is.
I personally choose to write in my journal right before I go to sleep, and I usually write down everything that happened during the day. That way, it’s a memento to look back on, and the fact that it’s also beneficial to my mental health is an added bonus.
Not sure where to start or go blank when you try? Our hints below will help.
Journaling for Anxiety Benefits
If you’ve experienced anxiety, you know it can feel both physical and psychological—think shortness of breath, trembling, and restlessness, with a racing mind dealing with worry 101. You’re unable to move. Let’s feel
But according to Jasmine Eskenji, founder of Mental Health App the zensori (opens in new tab)Journaling through those feelings can have myriad benefits. “When you’re feeling anxious, a lot of things can feel out of control. By taking time out of your day to devote time to processing and dealing with these feelings, you are taking control of your emotions, she explains.
“In a similar way to saying affirmations, journaling can force your brain to think differently and hopefully, more positively. It’s a great way to practice self-care,” continues Eskenzi.
It is important to note here: As with all self-care ideas and mental health coping mechanisms, the key is to find what works for you. Some people who are not so keen on words may instead choose drawing, doodling or painting – which can be beneficial for all, experts share. Essentially, being creative is key — the same research cited above found that releasing your inner creativity can not only increase positive emotions, but also reduce symptoms of stress, anxiety, and depression.
Journaling prompts for anxiety
Of course, many people just freestyle when it comes to their journaling, but if you’re doing this for the first time or are short on brain space that day, it can be helpful to have some prompts at hand.
1. Identify what’s causing you stress
Clinical psychologist Dr. Julie Smith suggests that you start by identifying the situation that is causing you stress and writing down any words that you associate with stress.
Then, take a moment to look at the page, not with judgment, but with curiosity, she continues. “For each thought you wrote down, take a moment to notice the feelings that come up for you when you spend time with that thought. How does it make you feel? Make a decision about what you want to do.” With a page of thoughts – would you like to destroy it, or keep it for later reflection?”
2. Ask yourself what you are grateful for today
One of the simplest journaling prompts in the book, and an easy way to reframe a negative mindset (opens in new tab) Reminding yourself of what you’re grateful for, shares Eskenzi.
Even on the worst of days, you can find things to be grateful for, whether it’s running water or a roof over your head. It often helps to put your worries into perspective and will uncover the bigger picture.
3. Ask yourself what you are afraid of
If you find that dealing with anxiety might be more beneficial to you, Askenzi suggests writing down what, exactly, you might be afraid of — whether it’s rejection, failure, or loneliness.
Then, try and find some simple ways to overcome these fears – for example, repeating positive mantras.
4. Ask How You’re Feeling Right Now
Too often, we get so caught up in the past or future that we forget to reflect on how we are feeling in the present moment, which is important for general well-being.
A common journaling prompt is a simple question: How are you feeling right now? “It’s important to engage both your mind and body as well as what makes you happy,” the experts share.
“How Journaling for Worry Has Seriously Helped My Mental Health”
I talk to a therapist weekly about my anxiety, and I was surprised when last year she suggested journaling. Since then, I have written something every evening. I was already writing before she suggested it, but assumed it was simply because of my love for the written word (you don’t choose an English Literature degree just for fun).
Writing down was relieving a lot of my anxiety over the past month and sharing in detail how I was feeling, my therapist also pointed out that it was helping my sleep quality as well.
For many people who struggle with their mental health, it can be difficult to get away from it. But journaling has been found to help, the principle being that writing a list of all the things that are on your mind – whether it’s a message you forgot to reply to or plans for the next day – it Will feel less heavy.
It’s definitely working for me – when I now look at my journal in the morning, I usually realize that none of my worries warranted a sleepless night. Reading it back to myself, I can also see where I’m sabotaging (opens in new tab)Or seeing things in a negative light.
Added Bonus: Going through some of my journal reflections with my therapist was a great way to work through more coping skills for anxiety and to identify triggers.
Disclaimer here: This won’t work for everyone and it’s always best to seek professional help, as a therapist will likely point you in this direction, along with other useful tools (check out How to Find a Therapist while you’re here). That said, it’s definitely worth a go. So – would you give it a try?