How Journaling Eased My Anxiety

    My anxiety crippled me, without me knowing it. All along I thought I was just a sensitive,
    overly stressed person who took things too close to their hearts and never thought I'd been
    diagnosed with anxiety.

    From a third person perspective, my life was perfect and peaceful. I had everything, a secure
    job, my own apartment near a beautiful park in a nice neighborhood and my future looked
    bright. However, on the inside, I was in turmoil every single day, the simplest tasks felt like I
    was climbing a mountain. Going to the grocery store was a big event in itself, I had to first
    prepare a plan on how I was going to complete my grocery run. I pictured how I would walk
    on the street, what clothes to wear and the exact path I was going to take at the grocery
    store. Should I get fruit first or dairy? It honestly would take me at least an hour to mentally
    prepare before I executed my plan and after the grocery store, I would always be exhausted.

    From a third person perspective, my life was perfect and peaceful. I had everything, a secure
    job, my own apartment near a beautiful park in a nice neighborhood and my future looked
    bright. However, on the inside, I was in turmoil every single day, the simplest tasks felt like I
    was climbing a mountain. Going to the grocery store was a big event in itself, I had to first
    prepare a plan on how I was going to complete my grocery run. I pictured how I would walk
    on the street, what clothes to wear and the exact path I was going to take at the grocery
    store. Should I get fruit first or dairy? It honestly would take me at least an hour to mentally
    prepare before I executed my plan and after the grocery store, I would always be exhausted.


    When it came to my job, I performed well, my work wasn't anything spectacular, but I
    followed instructions and did what was asked of me. I didn’t have to think or be seen that
    much, so it perfectly suited my anxiety. I felt like anxiety controlled my life and not the other
    way around.

    How I overcame anxiety

    On my 25th birthday, I received a gift from my parents, it was a beautifully decorated journal
    with an expensive pen. Being so nice, I was encouraged to use it and decided to start writing
    my daily activities and thoughts. I would write about what I was doing each day, who I spoke
    to, how to accomplish my grocery trips, I didn’t overthink it and kept it simple.
    As time went on, I started writing more about how I felt each day. For example, when I spoke
    to a colleague at work, I also described how it made me feel and broke down the exact
    feelings from the moment I met them. I described every single detail in my journal. I
    continued this way and wrote every evening for at least 30 minutes. Journaling became part
    of my daily routine and I fell in love with it, it felt like each time I wrote in my journal, a weight
    had been lifted off my shoulders. After about 6 months of journaling, I realized that I no
    longer needed to plan my grocery trips. I went to the gym voluntarily and without a plan. I
    spoke to people with more ease and I was actually fine with speaking to new people. My life
    got better, happier and I slowly got off my medication for anxiety.

    Benefits of journaling

    I discovered that journaling has many benefits, it helped me gain control of my emotions and
    improved my mental health. I’m speaking from personal experience but it’s not just me.
    According to University of Rochester Medical Center journaling can help you:


    - Manage anxiety
    - Reduce stress
    - Cope with depression


    It is important to understand that journaling is only one aspect of a healthy lifestyle and not a
    complete solution to improving your mental health. During my journaling journey, I also made
    sure I was eating healthy, slept well, practiced meditation and exercised. I believe that made
    a huge difference to my overall health too.

    What I learned during my journey


    There are a couple of things that I learned and wanted to share with you. Of course, not
    everybody’s journey will look exactly the same, but these tips might help you to get started.


    1. Consistency. Make sure you write even when you don't feel like it. Establishing a
    habit is extremely important to make your journaling journey successful. Don’t stress
    about committing to a specific time frame, write for as long as you want, even if it’s
    only 1-2 minutes per day, the important thing is to be consistent until it becomes a
    daily habit.


    2. Make sure you like your journal. It’s ok to have a basic one too, but make sure you
    like it, cheap or expensive, whatever tickles your fancy. I personally found that it
    made a huge difference that my journal was beautiful and expensive, I treated it with
    more care and placed a high importance on it.


    3. Describe not just events but how you felt throughout your day. Break down all your
    feelings, for example, how you felt before doing something, during and how you felt
    after. I believe this was a huge part of easing my anxiety. This way I was able to
    process my feelings and understand how I felt in each situation and identify some of
    the patterns that triggered my anxiety. I realized that my feelings had a pattern to it
    and by journaling and reflecting I was able to predict how I would feel in every
    situation.


    4. Create a relaxing routine before your journaling. Don’t just sit down and write, but
    create a routine that sets you up for success, making your journaling experience
    pleasurable. For example, you could make a cup of tea and light a candle before you
    start writing. Try to do the same routine every time you write. My routine included a
    short meditation, I would listen to Jason Snaddon’s meditations as it helped focus my
    mind and then after, I would write for 30 minutes.


    5. Make sure your journaling entry for the day also has a positive side to it. For
    example, if you are writing about how an event made you feel sad, make sure you
    also describe what was good about the event or perhaps what you learnt from this
    event. If there is nothing you can find that was positive, maybe end your entry with
    something similar to this: even though this made me feel awful, I am glad I went to
    the event as the food was so delicious.

    Final Words

    Journaling can seem like a daunting task in the beginning, especially if this is something you
    haven't done before. However, the long-term benefits can be enormous to your mental
    health, at least it helped me. I wouldn’t say it solved all my problems, but it certainly helped
    to keep my emotions under control and it made my future look brighter.

     

    AmandaHobartAuthor bio: Amanda Hobart is a creative writer and studying to become a life coach. She runs her own Lifestyle Cabin blog.

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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