I was recently asked if journaling can help with anxiety?
Yes! I often recommend journaling to my anxious clients and they are always surprised just how much writing out their own anxious thoughts can help them. Journaling provides an opportunity for self reflection and discovery, allowing us to become more aware of our thoughts and feelings, and providing a safe space to question our anxiety.
While journaling has become more popular in recent years, it has been around for centuries and has been a key strategy in my own personal growth, and that of many other successful people.
I only wish I knew about the value of journaling when I used to struggle with debilitating anxiety.
What Is Journaling?
It is easy to confuse journaling with keeping a diary of events during our day, however they are very different.
Journaling is time set aside for self reflection and discovery and is highly recommended for anxiety and stress management. It can help us to reduce feelings or fear, nervousness and overwhelm and encourage us to better our well-being.
Journaling provides us with the opportunity to write what is on our mind at the moment in time when we put pen to paper, and reflect of our previous day or week.
The key to journaling is the opportunity to find solutions to what is worrying us, and not just keep ruminating on the same worries day after day.
How Do I Journal?
There are many different ways to journal. I aim to journal every day but for full transparency, I don’t always achieve this. One thing I have learnt though is if I believe I am too busy to journal, this is often when I need it the most. I prefer to journal in the morning, others prefer the evening, before sleeping. There is no right or wrong way, however I believe it is easiest if you put a set time aside on a regular basis.
Do not worry about grammar or sentence structure! Some people want their journal to look perfect, this is when we lose the point of journaling. Think of it more as an uninterrupted brain dump. Spelling mistakes and bad grammar are all part of the dump! If you try to think too much about what you are writing, the words won’t flow and you may miss a thought that provides you with so much insight.
Many people choose to free write what ever is in their head at that time, I sometimes do this but find it more helpful if I ask myself specific questions, and then flow from there. I prefer good old fashioned pen and paper, as this slows down the amygdala which controls the intensity of our anxious emotions, but you could also type your thoughts into your phone or other device.
I like to treat myself to a nice lined A5 notebook that I use specifically for journaling. There are also many books available that are specifically designed for journaling.
When Do I Journal?
We can journal on a daily, weekly or ad hoc basis, or whenever we feel in a heightened anxious state.
I aim to put just 10 minutes aside each morning, as this helps me not feel too overwhelmed. I often journal for longer but I choose not to put pressure on myself.
You can choose whatever is best for you!
Why Do We Need To Journal?
Have you ever had a thought that goes around and around in your head, and you just can’t shake it off?
Journaling helps us to work through our anxious thoughts, feelings and emotions, as well as our limiting beliefs. Once we have written something down and acknowledged the thought, it is easier to work out a solution. The thought is now out of our heads and we can stop ruminating on it. This brings immediate relief!
Now we can question that thought, look for evidence to see if it is true, or maybe it is something constructed in our imagination or perhaps we are worrying about a future event that hasn’t even happened.
We can start to focus on solutions instead of problems, and this is empowering!
Social media feeds and instant messaging apps capture so much of our attention these days, and it is so easy to become distracted by other peoples lives. Journaling is a time for us.
Keeping a journal may seem like a simple act, but its profound benefits can not be underestimated.
One study found that writing in a journal reduces blood pressure, improves mental health and reduces anxiety, depression and hostility.
Benefits of Journaling
Journaling provides a safe and private space for self-expression. It allows us to flow freely with our thoughts, feelings, and emotions without judgment or interruption and we can express our thoughts and gain clarity on any complex situations or challenges we may be facing.
By doing this, we can discover our true selves and gain a deeper understanding of our beliefs, values, desires, and dreams.
Writing in a journal can be an incredibly cathartic experience. It serves as an emotional release, encouraging us to vent frustrations, fears, and anxieties. When we write our thoughts and emotions down, we offload the burden from our minds, creating a sense of relief and calm.
Journaling can act as a form of self-therapy, allowing us to process difficult experiences and increases emotional resilience.
Journaling cultivates self-awareness by encouraging introspection. Regularly reflecting on our experiences and actions helps us gain insights into our patterns, beliefs, habits, and behaviours. By writing about our achievements, challenges and lessons learned, we can identify recurring themes or triggers that guide our thoughts and actions.
This increased self-awareness helps us to make conscious choices and decisions, and enables us to take proactive steps forward with our personal growth.
Journaling serves as a powerful tool for goal setting and tracking progress. When we write down our goals and the steps required to reach them, we have more accountability and therefore are more likely to achieve them. By tracking our progress and learning from any setbacks, we can stay motivated and focused on our goals.
Gratitude and Positive Thinking
I end each session focusing on what I am grateful for in that moment.
By regularly writing about the things we are grateful for, we transfer our attention towards what is working well in our lives. This helps us to see a bigger perspective, especially during challenging times. Journaling about moments of joy and gratitude encourages us to cultivate an more positive attitude of appreciation.
If You Need Further Support with Your Mental Wellbeing and Anxiety
If you need further support with your Mental Health, a trained Anxiety Specialist/Coach can prescribe you with a personalised plan to understand the root cause of your anxiety, as well as help you develop coping strategies that are focused around your individual needs.
Taking care of your mental health is an essential part of your overall well-being. Left unresolved, anxiety can spiral out of control and have a significant impact on relationships, work, school and family life.
It is my belief that no one needs to struggle with anxiety, we just need the tools and techniques to overcome it.
So if you want to take the next steps to have a happier life where your fears no longer hold you back, click the link below and book a free no obligation consultancy call.
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