Journaling Tips to Challenge Anxious Thoughts

Journaling isn’t just a way to practice your handwriting in the digital age. Learning how to use journaling effectively is a great way to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety, so you can enjoy more of your life panic-free. Journaling helps to lessen your feelings of distress, get your thoughts out on paper, and even work out solutions for your challenges.

There are many ways to get started with journaling. The strategy you choose depends on you and what you want to accomplish. Let’s look at the easiest way to tackle your anxieties with journaling. You can use these strategies on a daily, weekly, or as-needed basis to handle anxious thoughts and feelings. Who knows, you might even sleep better!

Write Down Your Worries

The first step in journaling to overcome anxiety is grabbing a pen, a piece of paper, and writing down your worries. If you don’t want to use actual ink and paper, don’t worry. You can still benefit from journaling on your smartphone or laptop instead. The aim here isn’t to write great prose. You’re probably not going to show this journal entry to anyone, anyway, so don’t worry about making it sound good. Instead, focus on letting all of your thoughts and feelings flow out naturally.

You can describe the events that you’re currently dealing with in your life and address all the negative thoughts that have been building up for you throughout the day. Think of it as purging all of those dark thoughts and feelings, so you don’t have to keep them bottled up anymore. Seeing your anxieties written down can help you to realize that many of your concerns about what might happen next may be exaggerated.


Photo by Content Pixie on Unsplash

Read It Back

Once you’re done writing, review what you’ve said and reflect on your thoughts and feelings. Avoid judging. Just think about whether you might be looking at things in the wrong light. As you read through each concern, ask yourself questions to challenge your thoughts. For instance, you might ask:

  • How likely is it that this will happen? 
  •  What are the realistic outcomes for me? 
  •  What’s the worst-case scenario, and is there a way to avoid it? 
  •  Could the outcome be better than this – what might that look like? 
  •  How can you change your current circumstances to attract a better outcome? 

 Taking the time to sort through your thoughts in this way can help you to challenge the negative ideas that are causing the highest amounts of anxiety for you. It’s also a fantastic opportunity for you to put your creative skills to the test, by looking for potential solutions to your problems. You could even start a mind map of ideas on the next page of your journal.


Photo by Finde Zukunft on Unsplash

Flip the Script If you’re still feeling anxious after you’ve explored the thoughts in your journal, it’s time to flip the script. Move to a new page in your journal and start writing again. This time, force yourself to look at the concept from a different perspective. Imagine a friend or loved one of yours was going through the same situation as you and feeling the same anxieties. What might you say to them to help them feel better?

As you’re writing, try to draw attention to your strengths. We all have strengths, and they can help us to deal with a wide range of complicated situations. Ask yourself how your strengths can help you overcome the obstacles in your path right now. For instance, if you know that you’re resilient in times of trouble, you might be able to bounce back even if the worst should happen.


Try creating a plan for what you will do in any scenario. For instance, if you’re anxious about losing your job, what would be your next steps? Would you dive into your savings fund? Would you need to ask people for help? Where would you start looking for a new job? With your plan in mind, you might even realize that losing your job wouldn’t be so bad if it meant you could pursue your passions or another part of your career.

Finally, when you’re done journaling, think about the other things you can do to give yourself a sense of strength and comfort. Maybe you can reach out to friends and family in advance to let them know you’re worrying and that you might need their help. Perhaps, if you’re worried about losing your job, you could work on brushing up your resume or looking at the job market. Focusing your anxious energy on doing positive things is an excellent way to use journaling to direct your focus in a way that helps you and can bring positive results to your world.

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  • Angel Lewis

    Hello there! I'm Angel, an entrepreneur and writer who grew up in rural North Carolina and now resides in Virginia. My love for writing began during my time at Guilford College in Greensboro, NC. Over the past couple of years, I've authored two nonfiction books in the personal development genre. Along with writing for adults, I also created 'Ready. Set. Fly!', a children's book that inspires self-confidence and resilience. When I'm not writing, I enjoy gardening, reading, playing games, and spending time with those closest to me.

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