Anxiety is as common these days as the unrelenting flow of new technology. Journaling for anxiety relief offers a healthful — and creative — solution.
Not all anxiety can be avoided by looser scheduling, less time on devices or dropping some commitments.
Stress is a part of everyone’s life, and learning to manage and even benefit from it is essential for personal health and growth. Thankfully, one of the simplest natural therapies is at your fingertips. Journaling!
HOW JOURNALING FOR ANXIETY RELIEF WORKS
Have you heard this all before? How great journaling is? Maybe you’ve tried it and it was like pulling teeth: tedious and painful just to extract a few words. It felt forced and phony.
How about finding a writing method that’s true to you?
This isn’t about poetry or detailing what you had for lunch. Journaling for anxiety relief gets the dirt out there so you can see it, and then filters it through the strainer of simple reason and Divine truth.
Think of it like panning for gold! Common sense and the light of spiritual truth act like a gold-rush sieve, sifting the lies while retaining what’s real and valuable. Now that can be crafted into something beautiful and useful.
START RIGHT NOW – TEN MINUTES AND … GO!
What are you worrying about?
Set your timer and start writing. Hand-write, type, text it to yourself, whatever feels most natural.
What is bothering you today, right now?
What are you afraid will happen?
If you can’t answer these questions easily, it might be that you’ve been stuffing the worries deep down inside, as a way of trying to cope. In this case, give yourself some space. Welcome God in, and ask Him to reveal what it is you’ve been running from or obsessing about.
As you write, don’t make stuff up. You aren’t trying to make everything alright. You aren’t trying to find answers or paint over the anxiety with shallow platitudes. Be real. Be vulnerable with yourself. This is for your eyes only.
AND … STOP!
After ten minutes, put down the pen, lift your fingers from the keyboard. Stop and take a deep breath. Slowly exhale. Do this again two more times. Slowly. Feel the breath. Feel your lungs and belly expanding, contracting. Feel your body relax just a little bit more.
There’s catharsis even in the process of getting all that junk out on paper. But this is just the beginning.
THE RATIONAL FEAR
Let’s start with pragmatism. As you re-read these thoughts try to do so from as neutral a view as you can muster.
What if this were someone else’s journal entry? What would your thoughts of response be?
There are probable fears and improbable ones. Let’s start with the former.
Considering the things you’ve been worrying about, is there something that you could do to change your circumstances or the way you think about those circumstances?
ARGUE WITH YOURSELF
Think critically as you re-read what you’ve written, and try to argue with yourself. Write down or circle anything that calls into question whether or not this is a realistic concern. How likely is it that this will happen? How do you know?
If what you fear actually does come to pass, is there a possibility that it could be less of a negative experience than you imagine? Perhaps a gold nugget in the rough?
THE IRRATIONAL FEAR
If you’re like most people, much of your anxiety revolves around uncontrollable future events or unrealistic ruminations about present circumstances and people. Some of these may happen, some may not. You can’t control events by thinking about them day and night. You know it’s illogical.
So why do you do it? How do you stop?
It’s beyond reason, my friend. Your mind is not just a bunch of tissue, chemicals and electrical impulses. It is a war zone where emotional, mental and spiritual battles are fought, won or lost.
You need an edge. How about a double-edged sword? God’s Word is effectually the sword of truth you’ll be needing. If you don’t know His Word well, that’s okay. You can start where you are. Get on your knees (you can literally if you like, but figuratively you must). Humble yourself before God and invite Him into this place of uncertain conflicting thoughts.
A SOUND MIND
God doesn’t want you to be consumed by worry. He does not offer pat answers or platitudes. He knows it’s messy down here and your worries are a big deal. What He does offer is Himself.
He will meet you in the battle, and if you surrender to Him, He will equip you and cover you with armor to fight those treacherous lying thoughts.
He will cover your head with the helmet of salvation (provided that you recognize your need to be saved), clothe you with the breastplate of His righteousness (not your own), offer the mighty shield of faith for your defense, and sword of the Spirit (the Word, the Truth of God). Know this:
God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. (2 Timothy 1:7).
This soundness of mind begins with thinking on, meditating on, ruminating on the truth. Your mental health depends upon it.
So whatever you wrote just now, those worries that plague you (whether rational or not) are crippling you. They are creating thought patterns that lead you into the no man’s land of ambiguity. This is a wasteland of shifting shadows where you’re paralyzed from moving forward. There’s no truth here, only a gaping void.
A PLACE TO STAND
Sometimes you just don’t know.
When you’re in the middle of your own life it’s hard to be objective. You need a place to stand.
More than a place — you need a Being upon whose truth, omniscience and omnipotence you can trust fully. You will still fight battles, but with Him, you will see victory.
The foundation for healthy thinking, for neutralizing those rogue thoughts that journaling surfaced, can be found only in Jesus.
TRUE AND REAL
Why? Because truth isn’t a religion or system of beliefs. Truth is a Person. Let Him renew your mind:
Whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable – if anything is excellent or praiseworthy – think about such things. (Philippians 4:8).
The word true here in the Greek can also be translated as real. This was such a big discovery for me! Do you know that whatever is false, whatever is a lie is not real? It’s fantasy! Nonsense! Why would you or I think about such things?
Though you and I know the truth and know the Truth, we still struggle. Such is the battlefield of life, the battlefield of the mind. Victory begins with transparency and focused, Spirit-led self-examination. Journaling is a definite help, but without Divine guidance it’s hard to know what’s real or how to navigate these strange spaces.
REMEMBER WHERE YOU’VE BEEN AND WHERE YOU ARE
Journaling for anxiety relief is just one way to use writing for emotional health. Why? Because when you’re worried about the future the answers are often found in the past. I encourage you therefore, to journal not only anxious thoughts but good thoughts – thoughts of thankfulness!
Really, this is so important. Why do you so easily forget the good things that God has done in your life? Human weakness makes us prone to this forgetfulness.
So, next time you experience an answered prayer, or something wonderful out of the blue that lifts you up, encourages and provides just what you need, write this down. A thanksgiving journal sheds the light of God’s goodness upon the clear present and the murky future.
THE LIGHT OF THANKSGIVING
Start a thankfulness journal. It will remind you of the worries and trials, battles and victories of yesterday. You survived, you grew, and God was faithful, always.
Were those old worries worth the energy? Probably not. Undoubtedly, many never came to fruition.
On the other hand, many of the trials you did face were likely ones you never considered. (This is not an excuse to look for more things to worry about!)
The point is, stand on Truth, fight the battle and trust the One who fights on your behalf. He is wise. He knows the way. Look to Him and not to your own limited understanding.
JOURNALING FOR ANXIETY RELIEF — NO SLICK OR SIMPLE ANSWERS
There are no slick and simple remedies for anxiety, but journaling your worries and your joys can help the process. Get those anxieties out on paper so you can see them and already some of their power has faded. Then, invite the One who is Truth into your space of struggle. He is the Answer, though He may not always give you answers. His Presence brings comfort, and confidence to take that next breath knowing He is already there.
Not all anxiety issues have mental, emotional, or spiritual solutions. Some are physiological, some are a direct response to trauma. In such cases, medicine may be necessary to bring balance to the nervous system and provide necessary sleep. From this place the hard work of learning how to think truth and view the future through a lens of faith can be done more effectively.
Talk to your doctor if mental strife seems too much to bear. He or she may suggest a medication to ease the physiological effects of anxiety, giving you a more stable place from which to work through the deeper issues.
As always, I welcome your comments and questions below. 🙂