While I don’t walk around with low-level anxiety anymore (there was a time when I was anxious about everything) I do have my days when I feel very anxious for what seems like no reason at all.
Sometimes it’s because I feel overwhelmed at all the little jobs that I needed to get done for the family and work. Other times it’s because I’m over-thinking situations and imagining what could go wrong. You know what that feels like, don’t you?
So what do I need?
I prefer to do my journaling old school style with a cheap pen and a note pad. Nothing fancy, I did spend some time using a note taking app on my iPad but I found this didn’t work as well for me.
The other thing you need is no censorship, so before you write anything down, decide how you will keep your thought to yourself. Whether you’ll burn the paper, paint over it, glue the pages together or just rip it up and put it in the bin. You need to feel able to write whatever comes to mind without the fear of offending someone or people finding out your closely guarded secrets. Journaling doesn’t work anywhere near as well if you feel the need to censor yourself.
You need to feel able to write whatever comes to mind without the fear of offending someone or people finding out your closely guarded secrets. Journaling doesn’t work anywhere near as well if you feel the need to censor yourself.
How do I start?
If you’re not sure what’s actually bugging you, then start with the obvious. I’ve once started a journaling session with “I hate his pen, it writes crap” and the rest just flowed out.
You’ll find that what you write from an irritated standpoint, is usually the thing that’s making you feel most anxious. It doesn’t really matter what you write, there are no prizes for correct spelling or grammar. You need to get it out of your head and on to the paper.
If you need a more structured approach, I find the following questions work really well
What’s really pissing me off?
What do I resent right now?
What do I wish I didn’t have to be involved in?
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When should I stop?
Write until you find that aha moment. It’s when certain things will click into place and you see the bigger picture. For example, if I was feeling anxious about lots of little things, I wouldn’t stop until I felt that I had a handle on everything that needed to be done. Often these type of journaling sessions ends with a list of things to be done. Getting to a realistic to do list really does elevate my anxiety.
Another aha moment might be that you realise that you have no control over a certain outcome and it’s pointless to waste more mental energy worrying about it.
Sometimes just getting it out onto paper is enough to clear much-needed space in your head for you to focus on something else.
In reality, you can stop whenever you want to but the aim of this type of journaling is to feel better, so if you’re still feeling anxious you haven’t uncovered the real reason why.
How often should I journal?
This depends on you. If you’re feeling anxious most of the time, then journal every day, see what recurrent themes pop up. This is a simple way of watching how your mind works. With time you’ll be able to intervene and stop that feeling of anxiety before it snow balls.
If you’re only anxious occasionally, then do it when you feel the need.
I’ve created a list of questions for you to download. Feel free to answer all or some of the questions. Like I said there’s no right or wrong way to do this, just do what works for you.
Download your list of questions here
Just a disclaimer, I’m not a medical professional and I’m not offering medical advice. If your anxiety is seriously impacting on your life, please see a doctor and see how they can help you.
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