A worry journal also called an anxiety journal is just what you guessed. It’s a place where you write down all your worries. One would think writing anxieties down intensifies them when really, it’s the opposite that happens. When used correctly, it actually reduces your worries. Here are the benefits of a worry journal and how to start one.
Reduces anxiety and improves sleep
Worry and anxiety go hand in hand with research showing that worry journals are beneficial even for people with chronic anxiety. If you are journaling for anxiety, it is recommended that you write in your worry journal 2-3 hours before your bedtime.
Writing your worries down allows your brain to switch off so that you are no longer consumed by endless thoughts while in bed. This helps you fall asleep faster and even sleep better. Better sleep reduces stress, improves the immune system, boosts happiness levels, and can even help with weight loss.
Psychologists say and experience confirms that it is common for worries to appear bigger in our heads than they are in reality. Writing down your concerns and worries can help you gain perspective over what are genuine concerns vs what are hypothetical worries.
It also helps you be more aware of the difference between the events that triggered the anxiety and your interpretation of the event which can be two different things. This awareness of how you interpret events can also provide valuable perspective and insight into your thoughts and worries over time.
Declutters the mind
The act of writing is almost like taking out the thoughts and worries and moving them to the book. Writing down your worries also gives the feeling of a restored sense of control. Getting them down quiets an overactive mind.
How to start a worry journal
According to the New York University School of Medicine, one way of starting one is
- Designate a notebook as your worry journal.
- Spend about half an hour with your worry journal every afternoon or evening, a few hours before bedtime.
- List bothersome/worrisome issues on the left side of the page.
- Think about what you can do to resolve these issues.
- Write your plans and potential solutions on the right side of the page.
- Close the book and put it out of sight. Don’t think about these issues until the next day.
If you prefer free writing, here’s another type of worry journal method to consider.
- Set a timer (15-20 minutes or whatever time limit works for you).
- Write everything that comes to mind about what you are worried about without giving in to the temptation to edit.
- Don’t worry about grammar or spelling.
- Write until your time is up.
- Reread your entry to see if there’s any insight to gain. Take note of what you found interesting or compelling.
How to get the most out of your worry journal
Write your worries down consistently
This plays a key role in releasing the power they have over you and frees your mind. Consistency gives you better insight into your thoughts and worries over time.
Evaluate your worries
Ask yourself key questions about why you have these worries and what exactly you are actually worried may/will happen. If you’re worried about failing school. Ask yourself why that is. Evaluate the emotions you’re feeling because of the perceived problem.
Challenge your worries
Clearly seeing your worries allows you to challenge your worries and work on reducing them. Ask yourself these questions: Is there any evidence to support my worries? What is the worst thing that could happen? Could I look at this situation in a different way? What evidence do I have that could argue against that worry? What potential solutions do I see?
If you are consistent with your worry journal, it will eventually be a collection of your wins, all the challenges, and fears you have overcome.