Anxiety Journaling: Write Your Way to a Confident Mindset

CoachHub · 3 November 2022 · 6 min read

What is anxiety journaling?

Anxiety journaling is the process of pouring one’s thoughts onto a page in order to improve one’s perspective and emotional state.

The idea is to release your anxiety as your write about the source. Once the anxiety is relieved you are better able to process events, arrive at a solution and cultivate a more empowering mindset. Through writing, you can lead yourself out of heightened states of stress and into a calm state where your reality seems totally different.

How can anxiety journaling help?

A recent study found that journaling can decrease mental distress and increase well-being. Participants showed fewer depressive symptoms and reduced anxiety after 1 month with increased resilience after just two months. With a low risk of adverse effects, low resource requirement and emphasis on self-efficacy it is an excellent tool that can be used by anyone.

Greater perspective

Journaling can provide much-needed perspective on events and situations that cause us stress. As we write we separate our emotions from the event, allowing us to take a step back and evaluate from a distance. Without journaling, we meet these situations from within our minds and evaluate them from states of anxiety. Journaling removes us from these emotions and allows us to access more rational states of being.

Form of expression

Journaling is a very healthy form of expression. When we do not address our anxiety in a healthy way it remains within us and impacts our thoughts and external behaviors. Journaling about the source of our anxiety allows us to connect with the emotion and receive the message it is carrying. Through journaling, we express our pain and translate it into concrete sentences that can provide huge relief and much-needed guidance.

Processes events

When we are in states of heightened stress and anxiety we have no access to rational thinking. We are unable to process our experiences in a helpful way and may spiral into destructive patterns. The next time you find yourself in this state and your mind is racing, pick up and pen and paper instead. The act of organizing your thoughts into coherent sentences will give you the opportunity to process the event more rationally and with less emotion.

Reveals wisdom

Humans are inherently wise beings. We are often too stressed or distracted to go deep enough within ourselves to access our innate wisdom. Journaling is an excellent tool to bring us out of our thinking minds and into the wise parts of ourselves. The more you write, the more you will see your innate wisdom offering solutions. Write about a problem in one paragraph and begin the next paragraph with ‘the solution to this problem is…’. Let go and see what comes to you. Write the first thing that comes to mind, with little thought or hesitation.

Reprograms the mind

Writing allows for positive thought patterns and empowering beliefs to form. Through writing, you can identify harmful subconscious beliefs and negative thought patterns and work to restructure them. Just as repeating affirmations can reprogram your subconscious mind, rewriting positive affirmations will do the same. As you write, you naturally slow down your brainwaves so you can focus. Research has shown that the slower the brainwaves, the more suggestable your brain is. This means it is in the perfect state to reprogram your mind and restructure your beliefs.

anxiety journaling

Different types of journaling

  • Manifestation journaling 

manifestation journal is for writing a detailed picture of what you want to receive and achieve in your life. Make a detailed future vision and list the steps you need to take to reach each goal.

  • Gratitude journaling 

gratitude journal is for listing anything in your life that you are grateful for or want to receive. As you write consciously cultivate a state of gratitude and absorb yourself in the emotion.

  • Reflective journaling 

reflective journal is a place for processing personal experiences and noting significant life events. You may write a reflective journal for self-improvement or simply to capture memories.

  • Morning pages 

Morning pages is a journaling technique designed by Julia Cameron. This method involves journaling in the morning for three pages without any particular intention or goal. Simply freely write whatever comes to mind.

  • Dream journaling

dream journal is for writing down your dreams and reflecting on how they made you feel and what they could symbolize. Write them down as soon as you wake up and focus on the feelings and events rather than particular places and people.

  • Unsent letter 

The unsent letter is a method of journaling where you write a letter to a person or to a future version of yourself that you do not intend to send. Write with a specific purpose and allow all your untold truths to come up.

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Tips for getting started

Make it a habit

Consistently journaling will help you to improve your rational thinking and restructure your belief system. Do it at the same time every day. Make it stick by stacking it before or after something you do every day such as taking a shower, having a coffee or going to bed.

Make it enjoyable

Find a method of journaling that you enjoy. Set some time aside each day for yourself and make it a sacred ritual. Do it in your favorite part of your house and with your favorite cup of tea. It should not feel like a chore, it should feel like a release and something you look forward to doing.

Be present

Turn off all screens and notifications and remove all distractions. When you write be truly present in the process. Focus on what is coming and give it your full attention. Don’t resist any emotions, feel them fully and allow yourself to release everything as it comes up.

Write freely

Write the first thing that comes to your mind and do not overthink the process. Do not judge what comes up, let it flow and write without needing to know where it is going.

Be solution oriented

It is good to begin by describing the source of your anxieties but avoid getting stuck there. Offload the problem and move on to the solution. Don’t spend too much time ruminating on the problem. Instead, focus on writing about how you would like things to be, how you can improve the situation and what resources and support you have around you.

Record triggers

Take note of any people, events or situations that triggered anxiety or distress. Reflect on the circumstances leading up to your anxiety and highlight anything that contributed to your state. Suggest ways to overcome, integrate or remove these triggers from your life. The question is, can you lean into this trigger and use it to become stronger or does it need to be fully removed from your life?

Anxiety journaling prompts

  1. What was one recent source of high anxiety and how did you respond?
  2. How would you like to respond to your anxiety in the future?
  3. What are your inner critic’s opinions about your actions and decisions?
  4. What is your anxiety trying to tell you?
  5. List four potential contributors to your anxiety. How can you integrate or remove them?
  6. Detail two promises you can make to yourself that will improve your overall well-being.
  7. Write a letter to your future self who has overcome anxiety.
  8. What are the three things you can do now to improve your stress levels?
  9. What are five moments in your life when you can say you were truly proud of yourself?
  10. Think back to a moment when you experienced failure. What lessons can you take from it?

In conclusion

Journaling is a simple and easy way to reduce stress and improve your perspective on life events. Journaling enables you to take a step back and see your life from a different angle and from a different emotional state. All you need is a pen, paper and some focus and you can restructure the fabric of your brain. Enjoy the process and watch yourself form new empowering habits and beliefs with each sentence you write.

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Cathy Stapleton
Cathy is an Irish writer based in Berlin, Germany who is passionate about using words to inspire growth. As a certified mindfulness facilitator and performance coach, Cathy aims to create work that helps people connect with themselves and heighten their awareness. When she is not writing she is usually running in nature, meditating or contemplating an existential crisis.

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