The Mighty Logo

Why Writing Poetry Is the Perfect Coping Mechanism for My Anxiety

The most helpful emails in health
Browse our free newsletters

When you have anxiety, it can sometimes be hard to remember that not everything in your life is terrible all the time. And it can also be hard not to collapse and break down into tears because you do not want to feel this way anymore. Anxiety is different for everyone, but I believe any person with or without anxiety can benefit — at least a little bit — from writing poetry.

I honestly don’t even know how I would still be here if I hadn’t discovered poetry as a coping mechanism. I have always written prose, but once I found poetry, I knew I would never leave my little bubble of stanzas and sentences. Poetry is, in my opinion, the most therapeutic form of writing, which means it can calm you down while also helping you express how you feel.

So now that you know why you should write, what do you write? And when? And where? Well, the second two are easy: whenever and wherever you want to or need to. You can write poetry at school, work, home or while you’re waiting at the doctor’s office. I believe the best times to write, if you want it to be most effective, are when you are anxious. It can also be good if you are having an anxiety attack to be able to focus on the words rather than the fact that you are having an anxiety attack. Or you can set a time every day to write for 20 or 30 minutes.

Whenever and wherever you decide to write, the problem arises of what exactly to write. You can make it rhyme if you want or you can incorporate some nice figurative language, or you can just write. The best thing that you can do is just write exactly what you feel. After a little practice you might end up going more in depth, but at first it is important to remember that the only one reading this is you. I believe you will benefit from this and you are under no obligation to share your poetry with anyone, so please do not worry about anyone judging you. Pour your heart and soul into your poem and take some of that immense weight off of your shoulders.

Since it might be hard to get started, especially if you have no experience with poetry, I will include a short poem I wrote while I was having an anxiety attack.

I have always been a morning person.

I like to wake up to the sunrise,

But lately, it wake up with it

In the pit of my stomach.

As the fiery ball takes its place in the sky,

The whirling despair takes its place in my body,

My arms heavy with leaden worries,

My chest bursting with blazing paranoia

And my stomach full of pins and needles

Poking my security until I have to clench

My arms wrapped tightly around my body to stop

The points from ripping through the flesh of my sanity.

And I make it all a metaphor,

Pins and needles replace the pain,

Because it sounds prettier.

Leaden worries replace debilitating anxiety

Because I want to pretend that this

Anxiety attack I wake up to almost every morning

Is nothing more than figurative language.

So the pretty painted words replace the truth,

And I hide behind the allusions

And similes because I can’t make anyone

Understand reality,

So I might as well pelt them with lies

Until they make an effort to fix the

Broken truth.

I say I’m fine,

It’s OK,

Don’t worry,

I’ll be better tomorrow,


The sun will rise again

And chances are the anxiety will rise

In my stomach and the pain will return,

But the lies are easier to force from my lips:

I’m fine,

It’s fine,

It’s all just fine, because

I love the sunrise.

Now, there are not really any rules to poetry and there are definitely fewer rules to coping with your anxiety through poetry. So please don’t feel tied down to any specific form of poetry or to anything you have heard poetry is supposed to be. Write for you and only you. Let the words pull you in, away from the world that is making you anxious. Find yourself deep within the piles of letters and words and stanzas.

I mentioned earlier that you are under no obligation to share your poetry, but that doesn’t mean you can’t. I personally share a lot of my anxiety poetry with my best friend, and she knows that sometimes, the more anxious I am, the more I tend to communicate through poetry. It helps me tell her what I am feeling and it helps her better understand what I am feeling so she can help me.

My mind, when I am most anxious, doesn’t want me to communicate. It wants me to curl up in a ball and ignore the world. I have found that poetry suppresses this urge and helps calm me down when my anxiety is at its worst.

I know that poetry might not help some people with their anxiety. I know this article will not be beneficial for everyone, but I sincerely hope I can help someone cope with their anxiety. I hope that someone, somewhere will read this and find a way to feel better when they are struggling and I hope that more people will turn to writing as a way to make life easier.

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

Thinkstock photo via stevanovicigor.

Originally published: June 21, 2017
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