Journaling prompts to work through anxiety 

Do you ever find yourself wanting to write down your thoughts, but you’re not sure where to begin? When you have a million and one thoughts floating around in your brain, it can be intimidating to even think about starting to write them down. Journaling is a valuable practice, both for self-care and for supporting your overall mental health, but it’s tricky to journal when you can’t figure out what to write. It’s also hard to sift through the thoughts in your head and focus on one thought when you deal with anxiety. When you’re feeling anxious, it might feel like your mind is racing and that you can’t distinguish between different thoughts. Each time you think you get a glimpse of a feeling, it’s gone, replaced by the next one. 

Asing a journal is particularly helpful for anxiety for a few reasons.

For one, you can only write one thing at a time, so the process of journaling naturally forces you to slow down and work through your thoughts one at a time. Journaling gives you a place to explore the why behind your feelings instead of just feeling that swirl of dread when you’re stuck in an anxious spiral. Finally, keeping a journal can help you identify patterns in your thoughts, which can help you find new ways to cope. 

Remember, your journal is for you, and not for anyone else. You can journal by hand or keep a digital journal. You don’t have to follow any specific format or stick to any rules. Your journal can just be a private space for you to write down what you’re feeling. Your entries will probably cover a range of things, just like your brain! Some folks find it valuable to explore and release emotions. Others use a journal to brainstorm ways to cope or keep track of triggers and reactions. Journaling is a cheap and infinitely flexible way to get in touch with your emotions – it gives you an opportunity to engage with them without getting overpowered. 

Here are some journal prompts to help you work through anxiety: 

  1. Describe a time when you felt fulfilled. Where were you? What were you doing? What about that moment felt so satisfying?
  2. If I could make one promise to myself it would be…
  3. Write a letter to your body. 
  4. What does my anxiety sound, look and feel like to me? 
  5. What is my first thought in the mornings? Keep a list. 
  6. I’m so sick of…
  7. Today, I’m grateful for…
  8. What is one thing I wish I could change? 
  9. What’s a quality I love about myself? 
  10. Make a list of 10 affirmations to repeat when your anxiety spikes.
  11. What’s a way my anxiety has held me back recently? 
  12. Write a letter to your past self. 
  13. Brainstorm a list of activities to do to soothe anxiety. Reach for the list when you’re anxious!
  14. What would it feel like to forgive myself? 
  15. What does my perfect day look like? 
  16. What is something I need to let go of?
  17. What are some self-care ideas for when I’m feeling overwhelmed?
  18. Keep a list of anxiety triggers.
  19. When was the last time I said no to something? When was the last time I wish I said no to something? 
  20. List three things that scare you and why. 
  21. What is something I look forward to every single day?
  22. What signs do I notice before an anxiety attack? 
  23. Think of a time when you failed at something. What did that experience teach you? 
  24. Keep a list of nice things people say about you. 
  25. Keep an ongoing list of worries that you want to let go of. 
  26. Do I notice signs of anxiety, stress, or worries in others? How?
  27. What activities make me calm? 
  28. Think of the last time you let negative thoughts spiral out of control. What were some of those thoughts?  
  29. Write a letter to someone from your childhood. You don’t have to send it!
  30. Write about a time that you made someone’s day better.

The most important tip for journaling is to just start – you don’t have to write anything profound or perfect. Write what comes and withhold your judgment. After all, you’re trying to make yourself feel better, so don’t make yourself feel worse during the process. 

If you need more specific ideas to manage your anxiety, our therapists can help you come up with a plan that works for you.