20 Aug How Journaling Helps with My Anxiety
In this series of blogs, we explore the realities of anxiety and depression through the lens of real-world first-person narratives from anonymous teens. What else can we learn about these issues? How can we work to overcome them together? Let’s talk about it.
For years, I have battled with an anxiety disorder. Every once in a while, my thoughts begin to race, my heart starts beating out of my chest, my body shakes, and I can’t seem to focus on anything but the cause of my anxiety.
While I have a great support system, I don’t always want to share the things I’m going through with my friends or family. That’s why journaling has become such a great outlet for me.
As someone who has always enjoyed writing, the practice of journaling came naturally to me and felt like a weight off of my chest. It was a space just for me where I didn’t have to censor my thoughts or feelings because no one else was going to read it.
After a few months of journaling, I began to build at least five minutes of writing into my daily routine. I noticed that I was carrying less emotional baggage, generally in a more pleasant mood, and able to think more rationally.
Journaling helps me cope with my anxiety in a multitude of ways, but these are the most notable benefits:
I have a chance to organize my thoughts.
When I’m in the midst of an anxiety attack, my thoughts rarely make rational sense. Transcribing my thoughts in ink allows me to visually organize what’s going through my head. Most of the time, when I see my negative thoughts written out, I realize how irrational they are.
Sometimes I write paragraphs, sometimes I only write a few sentences, but the important part is the act of writing itself.
I don’t have to filter myself.
Unlike venting to a human being, venting to an inanimate object poses no threat of being misunderstood. In the heat of the moment, it’s not unusual for me to say things that I don’t necessarily mean. However, when I get out my anger on the page, I know that the only person who will read my rants is myself.
When journaling, I find that I am able to be more honest with myself because I don’t have to tailor my words to a certain audience. Journaling offers me a space to say whatever is on my mind without worrying about hurting another person’s feelings. For me, the act of writing out my emotions is a self-care practice.
I can distance myself from a stressful situation.
My anxiety can cause me to perceive stressful situations through a very narrow lens. While, from an external perspective, the problem may appear to be minimal, anxiety has a way of making the smallest inconveniences seem like the end of the world.
Sometimes, all I need is a little bit of distance from the situation in order to grasp the mild nature of a stressful situation. When I put my overwhelming, unmanageable feelings on the page, they suddenly become a small, concrete list of obstacles that I have the ability to overcome. Putting my emotions into words allows for the flurry of negative thoughts in my head to become tangible and, therefore, easier to comprehend and move past.
I can look back at old entries and see how much I’ve grown.
My favorite part of journaling is being able to track my growth. When my anxiety gets bad, I often leap to negative self-talk, minimizing all the work that I have done for my mental health. While I recognize the danger of this behavior, it is not always easy to escape.
However, when I flip back to old journal entries, I don’t even recognize the person writing years, months, or even weeks ago. For me, it’s a reminder that I have the capacity to change and so does my mental wellness.
My journal reminds me that, even when my anxiety feels debilitating, it does not define me. Journaling is not only an escape for me but an opportunity to take my mental health healing into my own hands.