These are my favourite journalling techniques for managing anxiety, tension or my busy mind.
1. Having a conversation with myself:
I write as if I am having a conversation with myself. This helps me get to know more about what’s going on. It’s easy. I ask myself a question and then I answer it. I write whatever comes up. It’s helpful to ask questions like:
Who am I talking with?
Why have you showed up today?
“What do you need (from me)?
What would you like me to know?
Then go back and forth, just writing whatever comes without any judgement! It looks like a dialogue in a play with a new line for each answer and each question.
I make sure I thank the parts of me that are responding. I don’t try and change what they are saying. I might write “Oh, that makes sense now” (if it does) or “thank you for letting me know.” Or “is there anything else you’d like to let me know?”
2. I give myself an OUTLET for strong feelings:
Sometimes when I feel anxious it’s because I have anger (or fear, rage, frustration or resentment) underneath the anxiety that I’ve been trying to ignore or resist. I use my journal to let these feelings out. I ask “and what else is here?” I might just draw or scribble. I might write a poem. I might let my handwriting give expression to my feelings by scrawling across the page, writing in circles or writing in very big or small letters. I might use colours or collage.
3. Clearing a Space before sleep:
I use this technique before I go to bed, or if I am having trouble getting to sleep. I take a moment to sense into the tension in my body and ask myself “what needs to be let go just now (not forever but just now so I can sleep well). I write down everything that is on my mind or I draw it. I am barely a stick figure artist but I can make little symbols that tell me about what’s going on. Keep asking “Is there anything else?” until you feel more spacious inside and calm replaces anxiety. You can circle anything that needs to be done tomorrow so that the part of you that wants you to remember can relax. Take three or four long slow breaths and allow your out breath to be slightly longer than your in breath. Feel the contact your body is making with whatever you are sitting on. Rest into that support. Three more breaths letting go of everything on the out breath. Now you can go to sleep!
So, there you have it. The 3 techniques I have found most helpful in dealing with anxiety. I hope these help you – or give you some ideas for new ways to use your journal to grow!
If you want to learn more about writing a journal and live in Sydney please come along to my next journal writing workshop in July.
*IMPORTANT: If you have something concerning or troubling for you that persists or you can’t seem to resolve on your own please get support from someone who is trained eg. a counsellor or therapist.