What Helps My Anxiety Post # 3: Journaling

I’ve always loved writing and journaling, even when I was little. (I so wish I had my elementary, middle and high school journals!)

Journaling counteracts negative effects of stress, improves cognitive functioning, strengthens the immune system, and even decreases asthma and other health conditions!

On the downside, for those who are perfectionists, journaling can be really challenging because they are trying to make things so “perfect” they can’t focus on the thoughts they are trying to access. Hands can get tired, also. For some, journaling causes more stress – a great remedy for this is only keeping a gratitude journal.

For me, journaling gave me a place to empty out my thoughts. When we’re anxious (or depressed), all we can think about is that thick cloak of darkness that we’re seemingly always enveloped in. I talked about my experience to those I trusted, but I hated feeling like I had nothing else to talk about (“So, today’s anxiety wasn’t so bad.. I felt my heart racing a few times, but I didn’t try to go to the hospital.. I told myself I wasn’t having a stroke.. me, me, me, some more about me..”).

So I turned to my journal instead, where I poured my heart out about every stupid thing I thought about. I could get all of those insecure and destructive thoughts out. I would also write about my “song of the day” that perfectly conveyed how I felt that day, which I was too embarrassed to share with anyone else. I chronicled a lot of things that occurred, and realized from that I had PMDD because I only experienced extreme emotions in the 2 weeks before my period was coming. This was immensely helpful for my mental health, because I thought I was suicidal and/or bipolar – what a relief to know it was just hormones and there was a pattern and some reason to it.

I rarely wrote when I was happy, because when I felt good, I wanted to be OUT and enjoying life.

Last month, I was cleaning out my closet and discovered my old journals, so I took out some time to read all of them, from cover-to-cover, in about a week’s time. Rereading my journals used to always gave me a thrill. I used to thoroughly enjoy reading about my adventures and the things I went through; it was like reading an auto-biography of a famous person, with all of their abuses and excesses and recovery and redemption and ’round and ’round again…So riveting and exciting!

This time when I read the journals, I just felt empty and incredibly sad for the woman who wrote those pages. I just wanted to shake her and say, “You don’t have to do this! There’s another way!” That author was so different from who I am now that I had to force myself to finish it. THAT NEVER HAPPENED BEFORE.

So, when I finally finished, I tossed them out into the garbage and felt no hesitation about it (right after I snapped a quick pic of it, that is).

I certainly don’t regret this last decade of journaling. It beyond served its purpose. I thought it supported me when I couldn’t support myself, but really, I was the one supporting myself all along. So, I highly recommend journaling: for self- counseling, for organizing and making sense of thoughts, for daydreaming, for detecting patterns, and so on. There is no limit, and I hope you find journaling as helpful as I did. For now, I only feel the need to “journal” here, and am immensely grateful for all my journaling did for me. πŸ™‚

 

9 thoughts on “What Helps My Anxiety Post # 3: Journaling

    1. That’s the thing about it, there’s no rules to follow. You can write one word, once a year, and boom! that’s your journal.
      And yes, reading those past entries showed me what a “dark” person I used to be. Although I appreciate both the dark and the light, I prefer to be on the brighter side now.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. True!
        And yes… I think that for anyone with experience of both the light and dark, it makes them a more rounded person with a greater appreciation for general humanity, once (mostly) back in the brighter side again. πŸ™‚

        Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s