The Mighty Logo

5 Ways Creative Journaling Helps My Anxiety

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

I want to start off with a little disclaimer: Journaling will not heal or eliminate your mental health struggles, and I’m not about to launch into some ridiculous testimonial about how I did that. Keeping it 100 percent real: I have two therapists, and I just started medication.

But long before I began searching for help for the anxiety I’ve journeyed with since my teen years, I found a small but significant outlet for my fears, dreams, worries and longings in the pages of notebooks, on the corners of class notes and in journals.

What started as a subconscious coping mechanism has now become, for me, one of the most valuable habits of my life, and I’d like to share with you some of the ways it has helped me on my mental health journey.

1. Creative journaling helps me get real with my feelings.

Sometimes, I don’t even realize I am feeling pain until I sit down and allow myself to write, draw or talk it out. Over the years, my journal has been the place where many of my feelings are named, realized and sorted.

2. Journaling is a way of sorting my anxieties and fears from my reality.

I love what my therapist says about thoughts and feelings: They are real, but that doesn’t mean they’re always true. For me, my journal has been a place where I can really flesh out an anxious experience or a panic attack, take a good hard look at what I’m fearing, and then take steps towards de-escalating.

3. Writing in or drawing in a journal can be a mindful, stress relieving activity.

A journal can be a totally blank canvas. Sometimes, I turn to a blank page and draw whatever I want. Coloring, drawing patterns, and writing stream-of-consciousness can be a mindful activity, something that grounds us when our anxiety feels out of control. I like to think of it as giving my monkey mind something else to concentrate on while I calm down.

4. There are ways to track mental health through journaling.

One of the most popular forms of creative journaling, bullet journaling, has become a Mecca of resources for people with various mental health journeys. I have found a supportive community as well as many pragmatic layouts to use in my journal as a way of progress tracking, symptom tracking and general reflection.

5. Journaling grows my creative spirit and adds joy to my life.

No matter how great any of these other things sound, you shouldn’t journal unless it adds value to your life. For me, keeping journals has been a grounding and joyful activity for me, and for that reason, it stays.

The way I journal has changed a lot throughout the years, just as I have changed. I look forward to continuing this longtime hobby, seeing what new doors it could open for me in this wild — sometimes scary — incredible life.

For those who are interested in starting a Bullet Journal, follow this link and watch the video that started it all.

Follow this journey on the author’s blog.

We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here.

Photo by Hannah Olinger on Unsplash

Originally published: April 21, 2018
Want more of The Mighty?
You can find even more stories on our Home page. There, you’ll also find thoughts and questions by our community.
Take Me Home