Whether you suffer from an anxiety disorder or are simply feeling more anxious lately because of outside events, finding strategies to help alleviate the symptoms of anxiety is of paramount importance. Left unchecked, our anxiety can have a devastating effect on our physical and mental health. Luckily, journaling is a simple, free and accessible tool which has been proven in research studies to help reduce anxiety.
So, what do we mean by journaling? A journal is a space in which you are free to write or draw whatever you please, in order to sort through, understand and control your emotions. There’s no need to invest in a fancy diary or notebook, you can journal in or on whatever you have to hand. The process is the important part. However, it is important to make sure that your journal is kept private, this is a space that is entirely for you and your feelings. Keeping it in a safe place where it can’t be stumbled upon by nosy children or curious partners is key if you want to be able to completely let go within its pages.
In order to effectively journal against anxiety, you might want to follow some steps that focus on bringing your attention back to the present, as anxiety is often a manifestation of spiraling worries about the future. For example, when you feel yourself in the grip of anxious feelings, you can sit down and write about your immediate surroundings. Try to describe in detail the room or space around you. This will help bring your attention to the here and now and prevent you from hyper-focusing on the anxious emotions.
Another strategy you can try is to make a list of all the things in your life that you have previously been scared of but have overcome, this can remind you of your ability to survive and thrive despite adversity and can make the anxious feelings melt away a little. For example, maybe you have successfully endured the pains of childbirth, won a hard-earned promotion despite a challenging work environment or come out stronger after the end of a relationship. Many of the difficulties that we face throughout our lives feel insurmountable at the time, but we always emerge from them eventually. Writing your way through your previous fears and challenges can help you get in touch with your inner strength.
Journaling can also serve as a way for you to understand your negative thought patterns in order to be more effective at stopping them in their tracks. When you feel a wave of anxious spiraling, writing down your thoughts and how they escalate can allow you to come back at a time when you’re feeling calmer. With a clearer set of eyes on your negative trains of thought, you can begin to understand how your anxiety is rooted in catastrophising rather than rational thinking.
The above are just a few of the ways that journaling can be utilised against anxiety. Experiment with what works for you, everyone will have different methods that feel intuitive and useful for them.