How Writing a Journal Helps Ease Anxiety
Battling with fear and apprehension can become overwhelming and it can interfere with your daily life. One way to deal with anxiety is to have a healthy outlet to express your feelings. Some people exercise or pore over a hobby while others choose to write their thoughts down on paper.
What is journaling?
Writing in a journal is a simple and cost-effective way to manage anxiety and stress. It involves noting down thoughts, emotions, observations, and experiences. Traditionally, these musings are written in a diary or a notebook but you can explore different methods such as keeping a website for your writing. Blogging can be very personal, especially when writing about your experiences, but it can also be extremely helpful to your audience. For instance, Thoughts on Life and Love started the blog with the aim of helping people who struggle with mental health.
If you have the equipment, you can even start a video blog, or what is known as a vlog. If you feel that you can be more expressive verbally, then vlogging can be an authentic way of journaling.
What benefits can I get from journaling?
An hour of writing in a journal or recording a video is a time for honesty and self-exploration. For instance, let’s say you experienced a panic attack but you aren’t sure what caused it. Writing down the details of your day can help pinpoint the source of your anxiety. When you become aware of your triggers, you can better anticipate, cope, and even gain the power to change them.
Other people experience anxiety over things that have already happened. This is called rumination and it can be very unhealthy. Author of 8 Keys to Stress Management and wellness coach Elizabeth Scott explains that rumination first leads to reflection. This isn’t a bad thing, unless it spirals to brooding. People sometimes tend to obsess over things that happened years ago to the point that their mood turns sour and they become less action-oriented.
Journaling can also be used as a way to overcome certain fears. Actress and entrepreneur Lucy Mecklenburgh blogged about being scared of pursuing her passion of becoming a fitness expert. Even though she was more than qualified, she thought that her age and gender would be a disadvantage. Likewise, journaling can help people gain some perspective about their anxieties. Some people realise that their fears are irrational and quickly get over them—but this is not to say that their feelings are invalid. Journaling allows people to discover valuable self-knowledge that they can use to change their lives.
How do I get started?
There are different ways to go about journaling. The simplest is to just break out a pen and a pad and let the thoughts and emotions flow out. It doesn’t have to be meticulously organised. Just put in enough details about the events in your life like where/when it happened and how you felt at that time. Bustle suggested some writing prompts which include addressing a letter to a person without necessarily putting it in the mail. This can help release pent-up negative emotions or gratitude for having them in your life.
Note, however, that journal writing may not be for everyone. An NCBI study states that it is most effective in improving anxiety symptoms for people who are already emotionally expressive. For those who have a hard time with self-expression, even to themselves, it can induce more anxiety. The best thing to do is to find an outlet that best fits a person’s coping tendency. Give journal writing a try and if you find that it isn’t effective, you can always explore other coping strategies.