How Writing Down Your Thoughts Can Combat Anxiety
You know how they say that talking to someone takes the weight off your chest?
The problem is:
You may not always find someone to talk to.
You need someone you can trust, who’ll understand — and most importantly — not judge. Even if you have such a person (or people), there are things you may feel uncomfortable sharing. This issue is a lot more common than you may think.
When you have many things affecting your peace of mind, you may start feeling like there isn’t much you can do.
But have you tried writing?
If you didn’t know, writing down your thoughts seems to have a similar effect as talking to someone.
Researchers have found that writing down your thoughts (journaling) is beneficial to your mental and physical health.
Does Journaling Help With Anxiety?
To understand how journaling helps with anxiety, you have to understand what writing does to you emotionally.
For many people, writing is a tried and tested channel from which they can access their thoughts and feelings with clarity.
When you’re upset, or even when you’re in a good mood, writing your thought processes helps you bring to the surface the cause of your state of mind.
So, keeping a record of your thoughts can help you identify the stressors and guide you toward a solution for stress and anxiety.
According to findings by researchers from the Harvard Medical School, stream-of-consciousness writing can be a powerful tool for relieving stress.
How to Use Writing to Fight Anxiety
It’s one thing to know that writing your thoughts can help fight anxiety. It’s another to understand how to use it as your weapon against stress and anxiety.
Here are some of the things you can do when journaling to defeat anxiety:
- Write When You Want
You’ve decided to write, don’t slack off, but don’t rush yourself either. It’s not a chore, and you’re not bound to it. View the activity as a journey of self-discovery or as a new friend/confidante who has all your trust.
Many online sources will tell you to develop a writing schedule. Yet, that’s counterproductive as it binds you instead of liberating you.
There are times when you won’t feel like writing, the same way there are times you don’t feel like talking or doing anything else for that matter.
Write when you want to. Use your feelings to guide you and not because you have to stick to a schedule.
- Write to Yourself
Do you get times when you don’t tell the truth because it’s embarrassing or uncomfortable for some reason?
It turns out you can feel the same way when writing a journal entry. There’s also the concern that someone might stumble on your writings, which can make you feel vulnerable.
It’s normal to have our guard up in the presence of other people, but you also need a safe space that’s just for yourself. A journal is that place where you can be the person you want to be and say whatever you want to say.
If you’re not comfortable with a paper notebook, try an online one with complete privacy features.
The only way to make your writing beneficial is to avoid censoring yourself or sticking to the rules.
Don’t worry about your grammar, punctuation, or anything else that makes you feel self-conscious. Focus entirely on letting your thoughts flow down through your fingers and onto the page. This is the type of writing you need — expressive writing.
- Reflect on Your Thoughts
Thoughts are like this never-ending background noise. We process a lot of information daily, making it hard to pinpoint what exactly is troubling us.
The purpose of your writing is to separate your thoughts and put what’s troubling you on paper.
Some of what you write may not make sense at first. You don’t need to think about it when you’re writing or try to find a solution simultaneously.
Come back to your entry much later. Review it and try to reflect on how you felt and what it may mean.
- Find a Positive Mark
It’s hard to stay positive but keep in mind that negative energy breeds anxiety. You can only beat it with positive energy.
Now that you’ve been writing and reflecting on your entries, try searching for positive marks in your thought processes.
You might be thinking of negative things most of the time, but is there anything in your writing that can help you overcome your situation?
If you can spot positive thoughts buried in the negative ones, take it as a win. It means you’re already breaking the pattern. The best thing you can do now is to focus on replicating the positive thoughts for a balanced state of mind.
- Highlight The Possibilities
You now have your thoughts on paper. They’re not just random noises in your head. You have something tangible that you can use to work out your concerns.
While reflecting on your thoughts, you’ve probably realized what’s pushing you into stress and anxiety. You’ve managed to name what’s going on in your mind, which makes a big difference when trying to find a solution.
Start by jotting down possible answers to your questions. Come up with as many possibilities as you can, then review each to see if you can find what you’re looking for.
Anxiety and stress are part of life, but there are ways to help you cope and rise out of the gloom.
What’s your method for dealing with anxiety? Does it work?
Give writing a try and see. Perhaps it’ll be successful in helping you combat anxiety.
Adam Marshall is a freelance writer who specializes in all things apartment organization, real estate, and college advice. He currently works with Parkway Plaza to help them with their online marketing.