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According to the World Health Organization, anxiety is a ‘major contributor to the overall global burden of disease.’ At present, it is the widest cause of depression worldwide according to WHO.
Journaling for anxiety is one of the best ways to work through the emotions. Keep reading to how to journal for anxiety and what to use.
What is anxiety?
Anxiety happens in the mind and the body. It can be seen as a general term for several disorders that cause feelings of nervousness, fear, apprehension, and worry.
Anxiety is a normal part of life, and everyone will feel it at some point.
Anxiety has existed in us since we were cave men and women, forming part of our “fight, flight or freeze” life-saving mechanism to protect us from being hunted.
A dose of adrenaline is released to prime our body to create a sudden urge of energy when we are in the “fight, flight or freeze” situation,
That dose of adrenaline increases our heart rate to pump more blood around the body.
Thankfully, in this modern age, we don’t fear being hunted by ferocious, wild animals. But that same response has stayed with us and is instead triggered by emotionally challenging situations.
Did you know that anxiety is a learned behaviour? This means you can unlearn it.
How journaling for anxiety can help
What is journaling?
Journaling is a way for you to write down your thoughts, feelings, and emotions.
It can help you gain control of your emotions and improve your mental health. The simple act of getting it out of your head and onto paper can have long-lasting benefits.
Writing down your anxiety triggers helps you to spot patterns to look out for.
How to use a journal for anxiety
Paper or app?
Personally, I go between both app and paper.
Currently, the app I use is Stoic.
It takes you through the day with prompts from morning, lunch, to evening.
It offers you space to track your sleep and motivation.
And it has an empty sheet for you to journal as you desire.
It also has space to meditate and follow breathing exercises.
There is no correct way to journal. Some will swear by pen and paper, others will prefer the convenience an app offers.
Journaling prompts for anxiety
It pays to be strategic with your journaling, whilst yes, it is fine to just write freely, sometimes answering set questions can get you out of your head and out of your emotions.
Here’s 12 prompts to use when you feel like anxiety is taking over:
- Where am I?
- Who am I with?
- What can I see?
- What can I hear?
- What can I smell?
- What can I taste?
- What am I touching?
- What am I feeling?
- Why might I be feeling like this?
- What am I thinking about?
I have used these 12 questions many times before I’m about to do something that pushes me outside of my comfort zone and brings up those anxious feelings, such as, a group presentation or making a phone call to a client.
Instantly it distracts me. It enables me to disconnect from the emotions and I can look at them in a more strategic way.
It is very possible to regain control of anxiety. I’m not going to pretend like it goes away completely, because it doesn’t.
Anxiety still serves a purpose in our lives, for instance, when you’re crossing a road – that alertness is what keeps you safe.
But it is achievable to get over the ‘irrational’ anxiety.
Next time you feel like anxiety is taking over, pull out a notepad or open an app and work through those 12 questions.