As someone who actively manages her anxiety every day, journaling has become one of my must-do activities. I find it both easy and fun to do. It relieves my level of stress as well as works though my anxious feelings and thoughts. When anxiety shows up, typically I am ruminating, and my thoughts are going unchecked. With a little focused examination of my thoughts, I can often see the errors in my thinking, and I can experience some relief to my anxiousness.
Often my clients ask me how they can get started journaling. I coach them through the following steps:
Steps for Journaling
- It is important to carve out at least 5 to 15 minutes and to find a quiet spot where you can be alone.
- Grab a pen and either a notebook or a pad of paper and then just start by writing whatever is on your mind, whatever is bothering you. I like to have a special journal that I use just for journaling.
- Write about your concerns and worries. Don’t worry about your grammar or penmanship, just write. Focus on what you are thinking right now, describing the events that are most troubling. Most of the time, anxiety doesn’t have to do so much with what is happening right now but instead about what will happen in the future. If it is the future that is troubling you, then write about those thoughts.
- Make sure you write about your concerns and fears in chronological order. In other words, start with what is worrying you right now. Then, explore what you think might happen next and then what you fear will happen after that. Write about how all of this will affect you.
- Next, read and re-read what you wrote.
- Now re-think about what you wrote by exploring all of your concerns and thinking about other options or perspectives that could change the circumstances. Be a little tough with yourself. Ask yourself, how do I know that this will happen? Couldn’t the outcome be a different, much more positive one? How likely are the circumstances that I am most fearing? Challenge your fears. Often when we challenge our thinking, we relieve our anxiety because we see that things are less likely to happen than we think.
End with a Quote
Now that the anxiety and fear has been reduced, I like to finish off my journaling by writing out an inspirational quote. The quote does not have to be well-known, it usually is just something that I find motivating for me to stay positive. I like to write about why the quote has deep meaning in my life and how I want it to reflect the message in my daily activities.
Three of my favourite inspirational quotes are:
- Do not be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make the better. – Ralph Waldo Emerson
- When a man has quietly made up his mind that there is nothing he cannot endure, his fears leave him. – Grove Patterson
- When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change. – Wayne Dyer
How can you practice imagination today? What in your life can you build an imaginary story around? What’s stopping you from imagining – nothing!
To our Health and Wellbeing,