how to overcome anxiety with a journal

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A couple of months ago I was feeling down. My Youtube channel was flopping in a terrible way, my job search was going awfully wrong and basically it seemed like all of my professional plans were going down the drain. Since I’m not a person who likes to externalise her feelings, I was in dire need of something that allowed me to take all of that stuff out of my chest; so, for the first time in like – ten years -, I decided to restart journaling. I always thought that daily journaling was an incredibly overwhelming project so I have been running away from it for as long as I can remember… but I actually had a journal with prompts at home called the 6 Minute Journal that I received in a PR package last year. It seemed pretty simple: it basically promised that journaling for 6 minutes every day (with two sessions of three minutes, one in the morning and one in the evening) would change your mindset; so I gave it a try.

My only rule for this journaling thing was not feeling forced to do it. I skipped tons of pages at first because I couldn’t form the habit, but during this time, when I had a bad day, i always remembered that I could now journal what was happening and what I was feeling. On uneventful days, I would forget all about it because writing down the trivial things of my day-to-day seemed like it didn’t make any sense.

The problem was that journaling started as way to externalise my negative feelings and that wasn’t making me feel better, and, most of all, wasn’t a healthy approach. Only after a couple of weeks would I be able to start looking at the more positive prompts and start answering those.

In due time I started reaching some interesting conclusions . The fact that I had direct writing prompts forced me to reflect on what I was was doing wrong in my life. Reading past entries also allowed me to get a certain degree of progress, even it that progress was simply understanding how my ideas evolved. Eventually, I found out that through journaling, I was able to work through my problems with no external help; it was like I had all the tools to solve my issues but the lack of reflection and the lack of stopping to think and process events were things that were blocking me from achieving those solutions.

Eventually, the importance of pouring my heart out was replaced by something even bigger, and that was gratitude journaling. I was felt that gratitude journals wouldn’t work for me; I’ve always considered myself a pretty grounded, grateful person in general so I thought that translating that into paper was simply a waste of time. However, I had a completely different result; I noticed that in the section called “things I am grateful for” I was repeating most of the items every single day. That repetition was basically creating a steady stream of priorities that even in the darkest days I was thankful for: I was thankful for being able to learn every single day, I was thankful for my family and friends; and I was thankful that I had a work that was creative and allowed me to teach, even if it’s through an entertainment format and allowed me to live a comfortable life. Those three items stood out in such a regular way that they started “speaking” to me. It was just like my main priorities were written down in stone in that journal and that it was meaningless to chase after other menial, secondary goals that wouldn’t make me feel as happy.

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In a sense, journaling allowed me to ground myself, to re-establish priorities and understand why the heck I’m doing what I’m doing. The fact that I was using a journal with short prompts was the best possible way to fall in love with the habit without causing a huge strain on my schedule. I was journaling whenever I wanted, without tracking how many times I did it, and it was that organic way of doing it that helped me out the most. Eventually, I switched from writing down everything bad that happened and started focusing mostly on gratitude journaling and, in a certain way, refocusing my actions and my work towards those three priorities that I mentioned.

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