Journaling exercises to release anxiety and bring clarity and calm 


27 July 2022

Journal writing, or journaling, involves writing down your thoughts and emotions on paper. Journaling exercises bring amazing benefits for your mental health and well-being. It’s a great way to deal with anxious thoughts because it brings awareness to the present. Research shows that journaling helps reduce stress, and boost your psychological and physical well-being. 

With the right journaling exercises, you can find more clarity and calm in your daily life. There are many types of journals that can help you reduce stress and anxiety. Here are five journaling techniques to get you started.

One of the best ways to get your anxious thoughts out of your head and onto paper is to just write. All your thoughts need to get to the paper as quickly as possible before they are lost.

The rules of freewriting are quite simple: set a time limit for yourself (from 10 to 30 minutes) and start writing. Even if you have nothing on your mind, write “I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write. I don’t know what to write” until something better comes to mind. Don't push yourself too hard: ideas come when you are relaxed. Write quickly and don’t worry about grammar and punctuation rules. When you make a mistake don’t self-edit, keep writing. Use the first word that comes to mind rather than trying to think of the perfect word. Keep writing, until the timer goes off, and then stop. This exercise allows you to organise your racing thoughts and can provide a sense of relief. It will bring you clarity and free up your energy so you will be able to relieve stress and anxiety and truly experience the present.

Journal prompts is a form of journaling that is done in a response to a question that you ask yourself. Using journal prompts is particularly helpful if you have a busy mind, because it gives you just one thing to focus on. Some ideas for journal prompts to get your started include:

  • How can I practice self-care today?
  • What am I most fearful of and why?
  • What is one place I would love to travel to and why?
  • When do I feel most happy?
  • What was my favourite story as a child, and why?
  • What’s my favourite part of the day?
Bullet journaling focuses on helping you get things done. In a bullet journal, you’ll probably see things like to-do lists, calendars, and goal trackers. For example, write out a list of things you need to do. Then, rewrite the list in order of priority – time, importance, etc. A bullet journal for stress relief works by freeing up your mental space, creating a system that you trust to help you get things done, and makes life feel a lot more manageable.
In this journaling exercise, you write a letter to someone that you’ll never send. You can write an unfiltered letter to yourself, to a friend, a relative, or even someone in your past. Mad at someone? Tell them why. Madly in love with someone? Tell them why. Do whatever you want with your letter afterwards – keep it with your journal, put it somewhere private, or simply burn it.
Get your happy hormones flowing by writing a gratitude list. Gratitude journaling involves taking a couple of minutes every day to make a list of everything that you’re grateful for. Jot down something or someone that makes your life better. This helps you to focus less on your worries and anxieties, and more on the many simple blessings you take for granted every day. You can be grateful for your good health, great friendships, your job, family or your dog; the list goes on. Writing down your reasons to be grateful is a quick way to improve your mental health by giving you a positive outlook on life.
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