Whether you’ve kept a written journal before or never journaled in your life, audio journaling is a brain hacking tool that can save you from a worry spiral.
There are times when we recognize something is suddenly off. We may be experiencing shortness of breath (or heavy breathing), our mind could be paralyzed with negative thoughts, and/or our body could be experiencing pain. Those are symptoms of us literally “losing our mind” in the moment.
The trigger could be a specific reaction of someone or bad news (a one-off event) or a long-term accumulation of separate worries. One-off events can cause us to say something we regret, or send an overactive email or text, or even drown in negative thoughts. In contrast, the combination of many worries we’ve been dragging over time can make us feel overwhelmed and result in anxiety or depression.
Audio Journaling In the Moment
Audio journaling is a brain hacking tool that can help us capture our emotions in the moment and process our thoughts and feelings to make better decisions and calm our minds. We tend to filter ourselves when we write, so audio journaling is a great way of capturing our raw thoughts, reflections and feelings. It’s also extremely convenient because you always have your phone with you. So, if you’re feeling overwhelmed, step out of a room or go outside for a walk and speak your mind for a few minutes.
My go-to option is the Journify app because it’s simple to use, I can categorize my timeline with tags, and get audios transcribed live when I want to revisit them in the future. You can find it on the Apple or Google Play stores as Journify - Audio Journal.
Audio Journaling After One-Off Events
Like with written journaling, there isn’t a format you need to follow with audio journaling. Simply get into the habit of recognizing when a one-off event negatively impacts you and makes you feel uneasy, and use that moment to take a short audio journaling break. You can timebox your experience and let your mind wander for those minutes. I’ve been doing this for a while and have come up with a mind mapping process that gives me an added layer of zen.
Regain control. Tap to record and focus on controlling your breathing. You can also talk about any physical reactions you may be experiencing.
Describe the current situation. What was the one-off event that threw you off your game? What was so bad or upsetting about it? Is it that bad?
Describe the desired outcome. What would you want to do now? Or what would you like another person to do? How do you want to feel?
Decide how to act. At this stage you’ll be able to choose your behavior more intentionally.
Acknowledge unhelpful reactions. Describe what reactions wouldn’t have helped at all in this situation. That helps you be more aware of them in future situations.
Audio Journaling To Stop Worrying Spirals
A worry spiral can be triggered by a slight thought that snowballs into something much bigger and it often catches us by surprise. The slightest negative thought can attract all the other worries we’ve been putting aside. The best way to stop a worry spiral isn’t to ignore it because “it’ll go away”, but to process it and talk it through. Similarly to the mind mapping process I have for one-off triggers, the following is what I use to break down a snowball of worries into smaller parts.
Document your symptoms. Focus on how your head feels, your neck, your eyes, your shoulders, all the way down to your toes. Acknowledge where you’re holding tension.
Describe your work-related and financial situation. Your assessment can be positive or negative, but only focused on this bucket of your life. Is there one positive change you could implement tomorrow?
Describe your social and romantic relationships. Lay out all the goods and the bads but focus on this topic. Is there one positive change you could implement tomorrow? Could be a change in mindset or a behavior.
Analyze the status of your personal development. Are you proud of your achievements? Are you grateful for your journey so far? Is there one positive change you could implement tomorrow? Could be a mental model, attitude, skill, or anything you would want to learn.
End with the worries you can’t control. The worries that are not in our hands tend to stick around so this is an opportunity to let them go. Talking about them out loud is helpful to realize some of them are not even likely to happen.
Worrying and reacting makes us human. Audio journaling is just a brain hacking tool to help us process those emotions so we have more control over our behaviors and actions.
Author bio: Lamia Pardo is the Founder of Journify – an audio journaling app to help users enjoy the mindfulness benefits of journaling on the go. She is documenting her own Founder journey with the Journify app and submitting her records to a COVID-19 project hosted by the Women’s History Museum. You can find her on Linkedin, IG or Twitter at @lamiapf. You can download the Journify - Audio Journal app for free in the Google Play or Apple App Store