by Laura Geftman, LCSW
I used to hate journaling. I don’t remember when it became a thing. It was probably diaries that started it with my friends when we were younger. It seemed so cool to have a place to put your ideas that you could lock up and keep them safe. I loved the idea of it.
What I didn’t realize was the significances of giving my ideas a safe place. Whenever I was stressed or anxious, it was immediately like having a friend on call to talk to. Writing out my feelings helped me examine the ruminations keeping me up at night, the unchecked to-do list setting goals to accomplish, and then there were the “he’s just not that into you” moments of self-reflection. As I continued to explore my thoughts and feeling, journaling became my most favorite way to self soothe (okay and baths, too.)
How to Journal for Anxiety
It’s pretty easy to overthink and psych yourself out of journaling before you even get to it. That blank page staring back at you. It may sounds pretty scary but it doesn’t have to be. There are several ways that journaling can help you manage anxiety. Remember action alleviates anxiety. Let’s do this!
Writing down your worries can help them go away. Many of us just try to avoid the things that are making us anxious. Truth is- it’s unavoidable. Even research can prove it (source). By transferring your thoughts from your head to paper, you vent your problems and rid them from your head. Caution- this may cause relaxation.
Indulge in gratitude. Yes, gratitude journal made a big splash a couple years ago and they haven’t gone away. That’s because they’ve proven to make a big difference (source). Giving gratitude can raise your vibe and help you feel less anxious. So do all the ranting and raving you need to do and then note what you’re grateful for…
Manage your expectations. Expectations can really kill enjoying your reality. They add to anxiety and take you out of the moment. But they don’t have to. We can change the way we think and react. The best way to do this is making lists or easy to accomplish steps or tasks. This helps with overwhelm and productivity.
Get good ideas down. It happens to the best of us. You have a great idea. It pops in your head at the most random time. Then you think- I’ll get back to this and later on you have no idea what that great idea was. Ugh. It’s the worst…unless you write it down. By jotting down your great ideas, you can alway go back to them and put the effort you couldn’t at that random time they occurred to you. You’re good ideas are always a great reference when you’re bored or maybe need a new job.
You words can create your reality. You decide how you feel. Your word can help determine it. In writing down what makes you strong, determined, and amazing, you re-enforce your thoughts for yourself. You can write yourself into your true power. Essentially you’re giving yourself approval to be the best you can be on your own terms.
Good vibe reference book. If you collect quotes, drawings, anecdotes, accomplishments or pictures that make you happy, you’ll have it to look at whenever you need it. You can refer back to it to help you reclaim your happiness. It can help soothe you in times when you need it.
9 Journal Prompts for Anxiety
Getting started journaling doesn’t have to be difficult. A blank page is just as important as a filled one. If you don’t have some pressing thoughts or feelings to get out, there are lots of other ways to approach journaling. Here are some journaling prompts to help you:
- I recognize that I don’t need to have all the answers right now. Today, I give myself permission not to know…
- Dear inner critic: You always focus on everything I’m doing wrong, but I know I’m doing a lot right, including…
- Okay so I made a mistake but I learned…
- Okay I have a goal. How can I break it down into achievable steps I can start taking today?
- What is one morning or nighttime routine adjustment I’d like to make and how can I put it in action?
- Dear someone I’m never sending this letter to, this is what I need to say to you…
- Describe a time when you felt fulfilled. Where were you? What were you doing? What about that moment felt so satisfying?
- What I am incredibly, ridiculously, annoyingly tired of is …
- Write about how you’re doing. Right now. Don’t censor. No need for complete sentences. Just spill.
What journals prompts help you? Are there any listed you can’t wit to try?
About Laura Geftman, LCSW
Laura Geftman, LCSW is the Founder of The Calm, Cool & Collected and a practicing therapist. Beyond all things cannabis and mental health, Laura is passionate about developing greater understanding for kindness and acceptance. In her free time, Laura can be found on her yoga mat, in a kayak or singing karaoke.