Reduce Anxiety by Journaling — Here is how I do it.
Since July, I’ve gotten into the habit of writing in some form of a journal every day. Whether it is in the morning or at my lunch time, I’ve used my time more wisely to make sure that my imagination is kept at bay.
I was watching Tim Ferriss’ Ted Talk last night and he brings up a really good quote by Seneca, “We suffer more often in imagination than in reality”. Often I find this is the case for me where this has become my source of anxiety, my imagination.
To combat this, I make sure I write it out. Personally, I find that when I speak it out to my friends, I sound totally insane. By writing it out, I only sound insane on paper and it’s actually for the better. The one thing I keep in mind when I interact with people is if I’m bringing them any value or if I’m being toxic. If it’s the latter, I suggest that you put your thoughts on paper.
What do I use to write? For me, it started off using the note app on the Mac as it syncs into the cloud which is great for when I want to add entries using my iPhone and then continue it on my mac. The other bonus of using the note app is the lock function to protect it from snooping. I can also write more down versus pen and paper.
But why have I transitioned to pen and paper in the recent weeks? My writing is atrocious but there is something about a pen hitting a piece of paper. There is a certain level of satisfaction for me to see words come out from the ink as it scribes through the textures of the fine moleskin notebook. I’m halfway through my first moleskin and honestly, it’s been one of the best exercises I’ve used in times of anxiety.
Recently I had a situation with an executive where they required me to complete a piece of work on short notice. The request had my heart pumping and anxiety soaring through the roof. Good thing it was just before my writing session so I had tons of time to strategize the worst case scenarios.
For those who don’t know, I’m a worst case scenario type of guy. What are the benefits of being a WCSer? When I can prepare for the worst, I can act quickly knowing what else is coming. Not just that, I’m more prepared and I’m going through possible scenarios even before it happens. I can weigh the pros and cons of actions at a high level at a really quick pace.
In the context of journaling, writing out my worst case scenarios, I allow myself to analyze why I’m feeling anxious (always start with the why). What can I do to better prepare myself? How am I going to achieve a level of confidence or comfort (my next steps)?
Using my example of my executive, I prepared all the reasons and then all the next steps. Having it down on paper became my instructions on how to mitigate the level of discomfort I was experiencing. I went back to my desk after lunch and began to study and prepare myself for the activity that was required of me.
Aside from the professional aspects, I’ve used journaling as a form of reducing anxiety with meeting new people. It’s a great way to decompress and debrief myself. For someone who self-reflectså multiple times throughout the day, journaling is a highly effective way to look back on thoughts and even irrational thoughts to see how my brain functions.
One pro tip that I would like to share that I’ve been using a lot lately is quoting myself in a separate paragraph in the page. For example:
“Sometimes we need a little help to unlock the greatness inside”
By spacing important quotes, it makes it easier for you to review your journal entry especially in times where you need a little motivation or course correction.
Let me know what you think about journaling or if you have any suggestions for types of notebooks, apps, or even pens! I hope you have a wonderful day and thank you if you’ve read my entire article. Your time is precious and I appreciate every minute of it.