Journaling to improve mental health
Written by Eric Van Buskirk
Do you often feel anxious, worried, or nervous about various aspects of your life? If so, you’re not alone. Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health problem in the world, affecting 19.1% of adults and 31.9% of adolescents in the US. Anxiety disorders can interfere with your daily activities, such as work, school, and relationships.
Fortunately, journaling is a simple and effective way to cope with anxiety. Journaling is writing down your thoughts and feelings on paper or digitally. It can help you reduce stress, understand your emotions, challenge your fears, and improve your well-being.
In this blog post, we will show you how to relieve stress by journaling, use journaling to cope with anxiety, and make it a habit to maintain personal well-being. We also include some practical tips and techniques to manage anxiety through journaling.
Getting Started with Journaling
If you’re new to journaling, you might not be sure how to begin. First, decide whether you want to use a traditional or digital journal. There’s no right or wrong choice here. Some people prefer the tactile sensation of writing on paper, while others like the convenience and privacy of using a computer or a smartphone.
Set aside a time of day when you can be by yourself and write. Ideally, you should journal for at least 10-15 minutes every day, but you can also do it whenever you feel anxious or stressed. Find a quiet and cozy place where you can relax and focus on your writing.
Always start by writing about your present emotions and thoughts. Don't worry about grammar, spelling, or structure. Just write whatever comes to your mind, without censoring or judging yourself. You can write about what’s currently happening in your life and what’s causing you anxiety.
You can also address how you feel physically and emotionally, what you wish would happen differently, and so on.
Using Journaling to Cope With Anxiety
Writing down your thoughts and feelings is not enough to relieve anxiety. You also need to use journaling as a tool to process and understand your emotions better. Here are some ways to do that:
- Explore the story you’ve written and identify the triggers, fears, and patterns of your anxiety. You can ask yourself: What situations make me anxious? What am I afraid of? What negative thoughts do I have about myself or others? How do I react when I feel anxious? How does anxiety affect my life?
- Reframe your story by challenging each fear and looking for ways to change your thoughts. For example, you can ask yourself: How realistic is this fear? What evidence do I have for or against it? How can I cope if it happens? What can I do differently next time? What positive affirmations can I say to myself?
- Consider reaching out to someone you trust to share the contents of your journal or seek professional help if needed. Sometimes, talking to a friend, family member, or therapist can help you gain new perspectives and support for your anxiety. You don't have to share everything you write in your journal if you don't want to; choose what feels comfortable and helpful for you.
Creating a Habit To Maintain Your Well-being
Journaling for anxiety relief is not a one-time thing; it's an ongoing practice that requires consistency and commitment. Here are three tips on how to make journaling a habit:
- Journal regularly. Preferably daily or weekly, depending on what works best for you. Try not to skip days unless absolutely necessary, or it might be harder to maintain the habit. If possible, stick with the same time of day each time. This will help create a routine that signals your brain that it's time for journaling.
Use journal prompts or questions to guide your writing and focus on specific aspects of your anxiety. Sometimes, staring at a blank page can be intimidating; that's why having prompts or questions can spark ideas and inspiration for your writing.
You can find many online sources of journal prompts for anxiety. Alternatively, you can create your own based on what interests or challenges you.
- Practice gratitude journaling by listing things you’re grateful for in your life. Gratitude is one of the most powerful emotions that can boost happiness and well-being. By expressing gratitude regularly in your journal,you train yourself to notice more positive aspects of yourself and your surroundings. This reduces negative emotions such as stress and anxiety.
Should You Try It?
Journaling is a simple and effective way to express your thoughts and feelings. It helps you understand your emotions better, challenge your fears, and practice gratitude. To start journaling for anxiety relief, you need to choose a format that suits you, find a time and place that works for you, and write about your present emotions and thoughts. Journaling can be used not just to cope with anxiety, but to establish and maintain an overall sense of well-being in your daily life.
We hope this blog post has inspired you to try journaling for anxiety relief. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to leave them below. We’d love to hear from you!