Anxiety gets the best of all of us. Journaling is an easy and affordable way to manage it. Journaling anxiety can help you channel your anxiety into questions and answers.
By asking yourself questions, you can begin to shine light on the real causes of your anxiety. Even if your answers aren’t necessarily the right ones, it can still help you release some of your anxieties by completing the journaling practice.
Journaling anxiety by asking yourself a question.
Whatever one pops into your head first. For me, I usually start out with the very basic: what’s causing you anxiety right now? Sometimes I write, “I don’t know!” and other times words flow out of me that I never expected.
It might be something small like an odd exchange I had with a friend that’s bothering me or that I have to make a doctors appointment and I still haven’t gotten around to it. If nothing flows out if you initially, write everything you did that day in a list format.
- Woke up, had coffee and checked emails
- Kids woke up and I made breakfast
- Got dressed
- Got kids dressed and fixed hair
- Unloaded the dishwasher and took out meat to thaw
- Emailed Sam’s teacher
You just go through your day until you get to something that’s potentially causing your anxiety. When you get to something that feels off, go down that path.
“Emailed Sam’s teacher about the missing assignments. She said there must have been miscommunication because the last Seesaw activity was done incorrectly. It’s so frustrating with the remote daily assignments. I feel like it’s never explained clearly enough and I’m always feeling like I’m asking questions and bothering Mrs. Carmichael. This situation is less than ideal and I can’t wait for it to get over.”
Obviously this is a textbook example and it might not always be uncovered so easy but I challenge you to try it out and see what comes. I think you’ll find that you can get a lot of clarity with just writing out the mundane life details.
Write possible solutions like you are giving advice to a good friend.
Your next step is to remove yourself from the situation and look at it objectively to search for a solution. The best way to do this is to act as if this problem is your friends and she is asking you for advice. What suggestions would you have for her? How would you deliver it? Write that down.
By writing as though you’re giving advice to a friend, you can be more diplomatic and take some of the emotion out of it. Write down a few pieces of advice you might give her. Some might even be out of character for you but they’re just suggestions. The point is to get your head out of it and think of all angles.
The reason this practice can be helpful is that anxiety has a way of giving us tunnel vision and hindering our ability to see all sides and ideas. We get consumed by our fear and the “what ifs” and have trouble seeing any way out. Even if the anxiety is surrounding something as simple as making a phone call.
Let’s work through that example:
“I am having anxious feelings because I need to make a phone call to make a dentist appointment. I hate talking on the phone so I keep putting off. Why am I so anxious about making this phone call? I’m not sure what the person who answers is going to ask me. I think they might have judgement over my questions about the appointment. I rarely make phone calls anymore so it feels out-of-practice and forced.”
Getting that all written down should give you your first does of relief. Just getting the fears on paper is cathartic. Now it’s time to write some possible solutions. Pretend your friend is telling you they really don’t want to make a doctor’s appointment and asking you what they should do. Write what comes to mind.
“I can check their website and see if I can make the appointment online or via email. I can ask Jake to make the appointment for me. I can give myself a deadline, declare that I will make the appointment by the end of the day and then set an alarm for 15 minutes before they close to call them.”
Now you have some solid ideas that aren’t riddled with your own fears. They are simply logical ideas to pursue. If one avenue doesn’t work out, you move on to the next. One idea might even prompt another later on.
Take one solution and journal about how it might look if you did it.
Now that you have several solutions listed out you can pick the one that appeals to you most and dive into what that might look like if it played out in your life. Taking the appointment making example, you might write the following:
“I have to make this dentist appointment and I have thought of a few ideas. First, I looked on the website and checked to see if they had an online appointment booking system. They did not so I emailed them from the contact page and asked if I could make an appointment that way. I will give them 2 days to respond to me and if they don’t respond by then I will ask Jake if he can call and make the appointment for me. I’ll make sure he has all the insurance information in front of him and tell him what days in my schedule would work for an appointment. This way he’ll be prepared and he won’t have to ask me about it during the call. That solved the problem and I feel more at ease with it.”
Deep breath. You did it. You logically and efficiently combatted some anxiety through journaling. I’m proud of you for taking this first step. Give yourself a pat on the back.
Journaling anxiety helps you get out of your head which tends to be half the battle.
Oftentimes our anxieties take on a mind of their own when left unchecked. They become bigger and bigger in our minds, paralyzing us. Journaling them out gives us control over them. It helps us take logical steps to combat it.
Whether our anxieties come from our thoughts that people think we’re doing something wrong, global fears or making a dentist appointment; they are real. They are not just something we can “relax” about. We have to employ coping techniques that actually help us overcome our anxiety. Journaling anxiety can be one of the most therapeutic ways we deal with it.
Taran is a self-proclaimed undomestic mom. She thrives as a stay-at-home-mom by consistently carving out time for herself and practicing realistic self-care. As a busy mom of 3, she knows that if mama ain’t happy, nobody’s happy! With a focus on how SAHMs can carve out time for themselves everyday, she teaches fellow SAHMs how they can do the same.