Do you struggle with anxiety? Anxiety is a normal human emotion that everyone experiences from time to time. However, when it becomes excessive and starts interfering with your daily life, it can be debilitating. If you’re feeling anxious right now, there are steps you can take to feel better and get back on track with your life. One of those is journaling.
Journaling can be a great way to work through your emotions and feelings because it gives you an outlet for all that pent-up energy inside of you. It also helps you process what’s going on around you so that when tough times come up again, you know how to handle them more effectively than before.
Here are 9 steps to start journaling today and see just how much it can help with your anxiety!
1. Find The Right Journal For You
Journaling is something that many people do, but not everyone finds the right journal for them. If you’re looking to journal as a coping mechanism for anxiety, you want to make sure the journal you select helps rather than hurts your process.
What does this mean? It means that you should choose a journal that's easy to write in, has plenty of space, and includes prompts to get your creative juices flowing.
It also means finding a journal with good quality, thick pages so that you can use both sides of the paper. That way, you don’t have to worry about wasting anything or stopping halfway through if you need to scratch something out.
Your journal should be something that you enjoy writing in. It doesn’t have to be fancy; just find the one that works for you!
2. Choose The Right Time To Journal
If you’re trying to get over anxiety, you might be wondering when the best time is to journal? Should it be in the morning or at night? Before bed or during the day?
There really isn't a right time to journal. It's basically up to you, your schedule, and your anxiety level at the moment. If you’re feeling so anxious that it’s hard for you to fall asleep, some people recommend anxiety journaling as a way of calming down and trying to fall asleep.
If you’d like, though, journaling right before bed can be a great idea because it gives you something to do and helps turn your thoughts away from anxious feelings and towards writing them down instead.
It’s all about doing what works for you! Experiment with different types of journaling times and see which one works best for your anxiety.
3. Find the Right Place to Journal
Journaling for anxiety can be a great way to process your thoughts and feelings because it gives you an outlet for all that pent-up energy inside of you. However, if journaling is going to be effective as a coping mechanism for anxiety, you want to make sure the journaling environment works with rather than against your process.
This means finding a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed for at least 10-15 minutes. Many people find that journaling in the morning while everyone else is sleeping has this effect.
It also means finding a place where you feel safe and comfortable. If you're unsure where to journal, try it in your room or even your bathroom if that makes you more comfortable. As long as it's someplace where you won't be interrupted, you should be fine. Remember, focus is key!
4. Start With Free Writing
Freewriting is basically just that—writing without stopping for as long as you want to. It's an excellent way to get your thoughts on paper and is among the greatest anxiety coping mechanisms because you don't have to worry about spelling, grammar, or even what the words mean if you don't want to.
You can write whatever you want and not worry about being censored or judged. As you write, try not to think too hard about what you’re writing and just try to keep your hand moving at all times. If you need a break, definitely take one and then come back to it as soon as possible!
You can also use freewriting as a way of getting to know yourself better or working through emotions that might be causing anxiety. For example, many people find themselves writing out poems, lyrics, stories, or song lyrics as they free write.
Sometimes the best ideas come from simply writing without thinking! If you're struggling to find something to put on paper, try free writing for a few minutes and see what happens.
5. Read What You Wrote and Think About It
Once you’re done writing, the next step is to read back over your anxiety journal prompts. This helps affirm that your thoughts are actually real and not just something you imagined or conjured up in your mind. It also enables you to analyse what you wrote to figure out if there’s anything you want to change or do differently in the future.
As you’re reading over your journal, take note of any questions or uncertainties that remain. Then, write down what you think the answers to those questions might be, and see if you can come up with any conclusions on your own about how you feel or why certain things were written down.
It’s crucial to not only read over everything you’ve written but also think about it. You might feel like you’re over-analyzing things, but trust me—you aren’t! Once you figure out the root of your anxiety and how to deal with it, all that hard work will pay off.
After reading over what you wrote, it’s time to take some time to process all of your emotions. Think about how you feel and ask yourself if writing down what you did helped at all. This is also a great time to review your anxiety triggers and note them down.
Also, think about how it made you feel to write down your emotions. Is there anything about it that shocked or surprised you? Do you need to write anything else to move on from the thought or the situation that caused your anxiety?
6. Look at Things From a New Perspective
The next step is to look at your thoughts from a new perspective. This means looking at the situation in a different light or spinning it into something positive. This can be one of the most helpful anxiety coping mechanisms because it encourages you to think about things in ways that aren't always negative and helps you put issues in perspective, so you feel more comfortable.
This is an integral part of the process for many journalers because it helps you look at your life and yourself from a different point of view. It can be challenging and uncomfortable, but it’s all worth it in the end.
- Think about how the situation might have looked to someone else or how they might see it if they had been there.
- Think about how you might have contributed to the situation or how it made you feel. What role did you play in what happened?
- You can also think about things from another person’s perspective. If you had to describe the scene to someone who wasn’t there, how would you go about describing it?
Often, people journal because they’re so wrapped up in their own emotions that they can’t get out of their heads to think about things from a new perspective. This is why it’s important to try! Getting yourself unstuck from your anxious thoughts might be the most rewarding part of all—and you never know what you might learn about yourself in the process.
7. Read the Entire Journal and Reflect On Yourself As a Whole
The next step is to read through the entire journal you’ve written. This means reading over everything—from your very first entry to your most recent entry. Although this might be hard at first, it’s important for helping you process everything in a way that feels satisfying and cathartic.
Journals are especially helpful for anxiety because they can remind you that no matter how much you might be struggling, things will get better.
It’s easy to forget about this when you’re overwhelmed with feelings of panic and fear, but reading through your entire journal can help ground you in reality by reminding you of the good things in your life and that there’s always a light at the end of the tunnel.
It’s also a great time to look back and think about the ways anxiety has affected you over time so you can really see how far you’ve come. Of course, you might be surprised by what you find or even upset because of it, but that’s okay! Don’t beat yourself up if it makes you feel bad—it’s a part of the process.
Remembering your anxiety triggers can be helpful in this part of the process because you can take note of them again and be more aware of when they might show up.
8. Start Preparing for When Anxiety Strikes Again
The last step is to take a moment to think about what you can do differently in the future. This isn't just about referencing your anxiety triggers again but about how you can move forward and make a change for the better.
Now that you’ve processed your emotions and really gotten to know yourself, look at what triggers your anxiety and how it manifests itself. Think about where anxiety comes from and what makes you feel anxious.
When you’re aware of what anxiety means and is, it won’t be able to take over so easily. When anxiety strikes, you can start looking at its source and why it might be there. This doesn’t mean ignoring the anxiety or trying to pretend like it isn’t happening—it just means that you can start looking at anxiety from a different point of view.
Remember: anxiety isn’t the enemy. It’s a natural response to stress, and it's going to happen whether you like it or not! It might be uncomfortable, but anxiety is more likely to decrease over time if you address it head-on rather than trying to ignore it.
Try writing out new steps that you can take to better handle anxiety and how you plan to implement those steps. That’ll give you something tangible that you can hold onto and also helps with anxiety in an empowering and inspiring way.
Remind yourself that anxiety is something everyone experiences, but it’s what you choose to do with anxiety that matters. Remember this every time it stops you in your tracks.
The anxiety journaling process might take a little while to get used to, but once you get started, it’ll stick around for a long time. Anxiety may come and go, but the things that help you handle it should last forever.
In other words, the more often you use journaling for anxiety, the better! There’s a lot of value in going back again and again so you can really explore your anxiety and have a better understanding of it.
All you have to do is pick up your anxiety journal and follow these same steps when anxiety strikes again. Let anxiety paint a picture of yourself that’s more healthy and balanced. You can absolutely get there!
Take Control of Your Anxiety Now!
You don’t have to live in fear of your own thoughts anymore. By following these nine easy steps, you'll learn how journaling can help reduce feelings of stress and anxiety so that they no longer control your life.
It doesn’t matter if this is the first time you’ll ever try journaling - all that matters is that it'll work! Give these steps a try today and see how much better you feel tomorrow!