Monday, March 7, 2016

Anxiety Journaling: How to Ditch the Worries and Get Back to Happy



I once read that 85% of what we worry about never comes to fruition. Obviously this is something that is difficult to prove scientifically, but I bet that margin is even narrower than 15% accuracy.

I don't know if it's part of being a woman (because women seem to fret endlessly) or being raised by a mother who made Chicken Little seem chill, but my mind is constantly stirring with all the things that could go wrong in life. Which, let's face it, the list is endless. The car might breakdown. Our career choices might lead us down a rocky path. Our savings account is too small. Korea might grow a pair and launch the nuke. (Happy Endings, anyone? God, I miss that show!)

But when I take a step back and evaluate the last decade of my life, one thing stands out about all: 

I spend more time worrying about S#@% that never happens, and that's a lot of wasted time.

So how do you combat that? Of course there's drugs and alcohol, but that generally leads to bad decisions and hangovers, combined with that small nuisance of legality. Exercise is powerful, but not always successful. What do you do when your mind is spinning and you feel like Atlas with the weight of the world perched on your shoulder?

Me? I journal.

I'm not talking about sitting down with a cup of tea next to an opened window, the gentle summer breeze wafting in as I carefully and calmly form each letter in my handmade, recycled, natural-ink, eco-friendly diary. I mean the antithesis of that.

I'm talking messy, sloppy, sometimes angry, often nail-biting, scribbling-across-numerous-pages-in-illegible-words-that-I-have-no-intention-of-ever-reading-again journaling, which is precisely the point.

An Anxiety Journal isn't a diary. It's not something you're supposed to go back and read, nor should you. It's an outlet for every unfiltered worry and concern, a place where you can unleash without having to feel judged or ungrateful or overly sensitive. Don't critique or limit your thoughts. Don't wonder if you have the right to feel a certain way. That is not the point of this exercise. It's not the type of journal you reflect on and evaluate. It's sole purpose is for you to pour all that irrational worry out of your mind so it doesn't eat away at your peace and happiness. It's a way for you to purge without judgement or filter. 

I can't stress this enough: Don't filter. 

I say this because when we allow our thoughts to pass through us without processing and evaluating, we open the channel into our subconscious, which many times will reveal what you're REALLY worried about. It's not rare for me to be scribbling about one thing and have something else entirely pop up. And when you discover the true root of your fears, it's much easier to ground your concerns. 

For example, just yesterday I was worried about a novel I'm working on. I feel scattered and unmotivated and I knew I needed to discharge or else I'd never produce anything useful. As I was writing, a sentence that came out was: I don't want to be the reason our plans fail.

...or something like that. As I said, I don't re-read the journal. 

My husband and I have a deep longing to own a farm. Right now we are stuck in the desert and have a contractual obligation to spend 2 1/2 more years here. There's a bigger reason for us being here, I have to believe that, but it doesn't change the fact that I feel spiritually starved. I am at peace among the trees with my feet in the grass and my hands in soil. The desert is not a thriving climate, and while some people adore it, this country chick does not. So while my mind is overthinking plot lines and blog posts and feeling like a general failure (I did remember to tell you I was human, right?), my true worry lies 2 1/2 years into the future, a realm of space I have zero control over. 

Once I realized what my real concern was, I was able to make peace with it. I can't control what happens in the future. Hell, I can't control what happens tomorrow or even in an hour. I can only control this moment, right here, the one in which I'm spending with you lovely souls. And since I am working on my future right now by working on this blog, I'm doing the best I can in this very moment.

Because that's the thing about worry: Worry always lies in the future. We're never worried about right now. We're in right now. We have a handle on right now. We only worry about down the road, whether that be a minute, a day, a month, a year down the road. But we have no control over that. The only influence we have on the future is to do something right now this moment that will have a positive influence deeper in time. Sometimes that's as simple as preparing a healthy meal or putting $10 in the piggy bank. Sometimes that's casting a money spell or saying a healing prayer.

And sometimes, that positive influence is purging the negative thoughts so we can make room for clear, productive thinking.

Here are my 3 easy steps for Anxiety Journaling:

1. DON'T FILTER! This isn't the time for you to berate yourself. Don't worry about whether or not you're acting spoiled or being overly sensitive. That's not productive. Nor is it treating yourself with kindness. What comes out comes out. Giving yourself a chance to vent without pause allows yourself to really explore what is bothering you.

2. Don't wait until you "have time." Take a few moments to write the moment you realize you're feeling overwhelmed. It's generally a quick 5-10 minute process anyway. Trust me, you'll be better for it.

3. Don't worry about handwriting or legibility. In fact, don't go back and read it. That will just put you back in a negative mental space. You may even want to rip the sheet up or burn the page when you're through, which can be very cathartic. If you're trying to be eco-friendly, open up Word and go to town. Just make sure you DON'T save it!

For extra Pagan points, give yourself a nice sage smudging or a few moments of earth grounding to really clear out the bad juju.

Ahhhh! Now don't you feel better?


Have you ever anxiety journaled? What is your favorite method for clearing your head of worry?

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10 comments:

  1. Great advice. Since losing my job, my brain has been in overdrive. I'll have to try journaling.

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    1. I'm so sorry to hear you're in a difficult spot. Hopefully anxiety journaling can help alleviate some of that stress. =( Sending you new job vibrations! Blessed Be!

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  2. I was hit in the head. This is something ive been looking for. I am an overthinker and it usually sucks up the happy thoughts that i have. Worst, i even pass it on to others. Now i know what to do. Anxiety journal it is. Hope this really works. Thank you.

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    1. Glad you stopped by! I've had great success with anxiety journaling. Have you tried meditation? It can be a little challenging for a person whose mind races, but guided meditations help give you something to focus on. I enjoy chakra meditations, which create energy balance in the body. You can find some great ones on Youtube. I hope the journaling helps you! Good luck! =D

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  3. Great post about journaling and anxiety. Although, I think we can control the future quite a bit. One way to reduce worry is to be prepared. Start saving money, invest money responsibly, have an earth quake/emergency kit, have a automobile club membership for when your car breaks down, etc. Also, journaling can be a great way to brainstorm solutions to problems by accessing your intuition, like, could you rent out your place in the desert? Live on a boat? Find a side income that could open up other possibilities etc. etc.
    Thanks for the inspiration!:-)

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    1. Always good to see optimism! Thanks for taking a moment to stop by and comment!

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  4. I have changed my daily journal this year and have been using it for not only my appointments, but to write out my feelings and anxieties each day and to my surprise this is working amazingly. Its only ever a few sentences with some well placed art work. However this year so far has been a major release of Anxiety and depression for me..

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    1. I'm glad your new approach has been helpful! I bet it's beautiful with all that artwork scrawled across the pages. Good luck in your healing journey. It seems you're doing a fantastic job! =D

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  5. Ever since I started working as a CNA I've been struggling with anxiety attacks and after reading this a couple weeks ago I started my own Anxiety Journal and it has helped immensely. Instead of having an attack every day I'm down to only one or two per week. Thank you so much for this post.

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    1. I'm SO glad to hear it's been helping you! Working in the medical field is NOT an easy career! Please make sure to take care of yourself!! I'm truly glad to hear this has helped you. Your kind words were much needed today! =D Blessings! ♥

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