Anxiety isn't an easy problem you can just solve like a math equation. It ranges from person to person, and as someone who has dealt with different levels of anxiety most of her life, it's certainly a tricky thing to battle on a day-to-day basis. While there are a bunch of different ways one can start conquering anxiety, one method that has helped me is journal writing.
According to Psychology Today, "There's simply no better way to learn about your thought processes than to write them down." Journaling has a lot of health benefits, and no matter who you are or what you do, everyone can use a journal. It's a private and relaxed way to unwind from the day, jot down your thoughts, and dive deep into those complicated emotions and anxieties bothering you.
I love to write in general, but writing in my journal has always been a healthy way to organize my thoughts, stressors, anxieties, and fears. While there are a ton of journal prompts avalaible to use when it comes to writing about anxiety, I often find myself jumping from one to the next just because they're somewhat basic questions. So, I got creative. Using ideas from friends, teachers, family, and other writers, I've come up with seven creative journal prompts that you'll have fun with, while also bettering yourself and your mind along the way:
1. Write Out Your Emotions Like A Grocery List
Maybe you need avocados, bread, and oranges this week — but what does your mind need? Maybe some alone time, a half hour with a good book, or even a night of just binge-watching a show with your best friend. Whatever it is, treat those needs like you would a grocery list and make sure you find a way to get them.
Another way to do this is to start listing off your fears and anxieties on a piece of paper, and then writing out your strengths. Push yourself with the strengths and list out more strengths than fears if possible. Then look at the two lists, keep it close by when you need it, and you'll find you have a lot more strengths than you probably realize.
One last "grocery list" that can help with stress is to list out all the things you feel you need to do, then list out all the things you can do within the time you're given. Realizing that you're not Wonder Woman or a time traveler is often a way to help snap your anxiety and stress back into place. It often helps to list things out like this because it gives you a moment to calm your thoughts and organize your to-do list, rather than let it all take over your mind.
2. Write A Letter To Someone And Never Send It
Sometimes anxieties and fears can build up to the point that you just need to rant or tell someone about it, and that can be completely healthy. However, sometimes anxiety attacks strike in the middle of the night when no one is around and able to help. Use your journal when this happens. Address the letter to the person you want to talk with (this can be anyone you want, real or not), and tell them how you're feeling. Don't be afraid to say everything you want to say because you won't be sending this. This prompt can also help you organize your thoughts if you do need to talk to someone in real life but aren't sure how to go about it.
3. Imagine Your Anxiety As A Monster And Write A Story About It
I know, this sounds weird, but stay with me. As a kid, you were probably afraid of some sort of monster, and as you grew older, you realized it wasn't much to be afraid of. Taking your anxieties and forming them into a creature may sound terrifying, but every monster has a weakness. Write a story about you battling this monster. Find its weak spot. If you like, you can even reshape and mold your monster as time goes on to see if this monster grows smaller, bigger, or completely disappears all together.
4. Interview Your Past And Future Self
Don't look at this like a stressful job interview. Do look at this as a way to reflect and motivate. Interview your past self by asking questions like: Are you scared of anything? What do you want to be when you grow up? What's your favorite memory?
Then interview your future self with questions like: How did you get to where you are today? What advice would you give your past self? What are your current fears and anxieties? Compare the two and see the similarities and differences. Obviously your future self is imagined. But picturing where you'd like to be and realizing that you'll get past whatever your current anxieties is important to keep in mind.
5. Imagine Your Favorite Fictional Character Has The Same Problems As You And Figure Out How They'd Solve Them
Put Hermione Granger in your shoes — or even Matilda or Elizabeth Bennet — and imagine how they would react to your stressors and anxieties. It often helps to have a great role model, and by having these strong characters to take on your fears just might reveal a creative solution to any tricky issue you're facing.
6. Use Colorful Markers Or Pens And Write Out All The Things That Make You Happy
Thanks to the adult coloring book, we now recognize coloring is a beneficial and fun activity for tackling anxiety, no matter the age. And while coloring books can help you relax and become less anxious, journaling about what makes you happy is also another way to turn your mindset on a more positive note. Using vibrant colors is just a way to make those happy things even brighter for you. By the time you're done, it'll be a masterpiece — one that should be hung in your bedroom so you'll always have a happiness reminder when you need it.
7. Start Your Journal With The Phrase "I Remember Feeling..."
I remember feeling happy when... I remember feeling upset when... I remember...
This phrase can bring up a lot of different emotions and memories, some of which you may be scared to tackle — and that's OK. Often anxiety is rooted deeply into our past, and it can hide so well we aren't sure where a fear came from. This journaling prompt allows you to revisit happy or sad times and take a better, more mindful look at them. It's good to realize how you're feeling, but it's even better and more helpful for tackling anxiety to understand why you feel or felt a certain way.
Images: Fredrik Rubensson/Flickr; Giphy