Looking at the ocean can truly help your problems feel so small and insignificant. Sometimes little problems and worries can multiply, leading to anxiety and a lesser quality of life. Since I can’t always be next to the ocean, finding other ways to overcome worries is crucial for my mental health.
I wrote previously about my gratitude journal and how beneficial it has been throughout my anxiety journey. You can read more about it here here, but essentially it has helped me stay mindful, present, positive and most importantly, grateful. Even with that, I still have times where I excessively worry. Sometimes my worries are justified but other times they are irrational. These worrying thoughts, regardless of how rational or irrational they are, are a big contributor to my anxiety. For me, worry can easily turn into panic. I can tell myself not to worry, but it’s not as easy as that. Sometimes when it’s something I can’t change or do anything about worrying feels like I’m at least taking an action. I have also felt that if I don’t worry, whatever I’m worried about will either happen or not get resolved.
I think a little bit of worrying is necessary in life, but not so much that it becomes debilitating and interferes with the quality of life. That’s how worrying can be for me, and telling yourself to not worry can sometimes make you worry more. My Worry Journal is located in the back section of my gratitude journal. It’s a dedicated space I use to list out my worries at a dedicated “worry time”. I don’t just write down what my worried thoughts are, but also actions I can take to resolve them. Even if it’s something out of my control, I can still take an action – like simply practicing acceptance. In addition to the worry itself and what action I can take I also write down the worst-case-scenario relating to this worry. I go into this more in detail below as well as other ways having a dedicated “worry time” helps.
I Feel Like I’m Taking Action
When a worried thought comes into my mind, I tell myself that I can worry about it later during my “worry time”. I’m not telling myself to stop the worried thought, I’m just telling myself not to think about at that moment. One worried thought can lead to others, and the next thing you know is you’ve wasted so much time and energy obsessing over a worry. Since I’m telling myself I can think about this as much as I want later, it helps me not focus on it then. I feel like I am taking action, which helps in the moment even if the main action of “solving” my worries will happen at a later time.
Helps Me Forget About The Worry
Since I’m delaying thinking about the worried thought, sometimes I forget about it entirely – even if it’s only temporary. I don’t write in my worry journal every day. It’s usually only used during times of more intense anxiety (mainly since worrying can lead to anxiety). Another reason I don’t write in it every day is that when the worried thoughts are gone it’s no longer necessary. Giving myself dedicated time to worry helps the worried thoughts not be so constant.
Writing Down Worries Helps
I think any type of journaling is beneficial for mental health. I have my gratitude journal, worry journal, travel journal, and meditation journal. Writing things down in a journal helps me process them and work through things. Journaling is also a great place to vent. Taking my worries from my mind to paper helps me feel like I am taking an action to solve them, even if they can’t be solved.
Gives Me A Place To Take Action
I love lists and planning things out. My worry journal is essentially a to-do list relating to my worries. If I’m worrying about something relating to my health, I can do something about it by either scheduling a doctor’s appointment or making positive changes in my diet or exercise routine. I then am taking action against my worry, making it no longer a worry. If I’m worried about finances I can write down a plan of action to either save money or find ways to make more money. If it’s something I cannot directly control I can still write down actions to take. Let’s say I’m worried about global warming. I cannot, by myself solve global warming, but there are small steps I can take to help. Breaking this massive worry down into smaller parts helps it not feel so detrimental.
Seeing It Written Down Can Make Them Seem Less Scary
Writing down worst-case-scenarios relating to the worries might seem counterproductive since you’re focusing on the negative, but it can really help you notice how not so big of a deal a worry is. And even when the worst-case-scenario is bad, seeing it written down can help you to accept that you cannot do anything about it, so why waste your time worrying. I also see it as a time to face your fears. Seeing it written down in front of you makes you actually think about it and process it, which to me is a way to desensitize yourself to it.
Writing this made me go back through my worry journal. It’s fascinating to see what my worries were a couple of years ago compared to now. I has shown me how much I’ve grown and how well I’ve learned to manage stress, anxiety and worry. I hope to continue to think this as I look back, years to come.