17 Journal Prompts For Kicking Anxiety's Ass
One of the biggest reasons I started this blog was because I missed writing. After years of penning essays for school and studying journalism in college, my career path didn’t end up requiring much of it. I first worked in sales and marketing and now in kitchen and bath design. While I enjoy what I do, “writing” isn’t exactly in my day-to-day agenda anymore.
I have notebooks upon notebooks stashed away at my parent’s house filled with scribbles of unfinished fictions and bullet pointed lists of characters, settings, timelines and plot twists thought up by a younger me. What used to be an elementary way to create alternate universes has now become a way to navigate my real life as an adult.
When you graduate college, nobody really prepares you for what’s ahead. No one hands you a road map or holds your hand to help you cross the street into adulthood. It’s a stressful, messy, moody experience and to be honest, sometimes ‘crossing that street’ feels a lot more like getting hit by a bus.
When I left Auburn, I knew there were big changes coming in my life. I wouldn’t be living with or near my friends anymore and I wouldn’t have the carefree lifestyle that came with college. On the flip side, I was going to see my family more than a couple times a year, I wouldn’t have to book a flight to see my boyfriend and I was going to be finally starting down my career path, even if I had no clue where it was headed.
While most of the changes excited me, any kind of big life change can cause stress, even the good ones. And there I was at 22; graduating college, moving to a different city, starting a new job, having to make new friends and taking on new financial responsibilities (looking at you, student loans). I was in over my head and it started to mess with my head.
Anxiety wasn’t something I had dealt with before, at least not on this level. I had seen a therapist in high school for depression, but I worked through it and moved on with my life. Back then, I think I probably assumed I would have it all figured out by now. I doubt I expected myself to be riding the same roller coaster of highs and lows some 10 years later. Yet here I was, looking around at all my friends or people my age and feeling like I was somehow falling behind or not measuring up.
Social media made it feel like everyone was loving their first jobs, everyone was out on the town every weekend and everyone was loving this season of life that I hadn’t quite adapted to yet.
The feelings of stress mixed with the feelings of inadequacy and they swirled together in some sort of toxic cocktail I couldn’t seem to stop drinking. I wasn’t sleeping. I wasn’t focused. I would cry some nights for no reason. I compared myself to every girl who walked in the room. I would think myself into the worst case scenario of any real life situation while my mind’s favorite hobby was imagining new situations that didn’t even exist.
Anxiety is exhausting.
It’s painful and confusing and hard to explain sometimes.
But it is NOT unbeatable.
In the past few months, I’ve stopped letting myself feel like a victim and started to take control of my own actions and thoughts and therefore, my life. I exercise regularly. I’ve started a less stressful job. I make trips to see my friends in their new cities and I’m getting back to the things that make me happy like writing and drawing and design. I talk about things and I open up more. I don’t try to pretend like my anxiety doesn’t exist. Instead of bottling it up, I let it out and let it go.
One of the best ways to do this is journaling. Lately, I’ve been writing (or at least thinking through) the same 5 questions each night before falling asleep:
How I have felt love from God today?
How I have felt love from Ryan today?
How I have felt love from my family today?
How I have felt love from my friends today?
How I have felt love from me today?
Every night, this forces me to realize just how loved and appreciated I am, and it silences the negative talk or feelings that “I’m not good enough for” or “don’t measure up to” the people in my life. For me, this has made an incredible difference. At the very least, the fact that I’m being intentional in contradicting my anxiety makes me feel more in control already.
The 5 questions above have helped me immensely, but if you find yourself wanting more, try one of these prompts I created to help get you started. I think you’ll find that once you start writing, thoughts will be pouring out of your pen like word vomit. (You didn’t think I was only going to fit one Mean Girls reference in here, did you?)
17 Journal Prompts to Kick Anxiety’s Ass:
When you imagine your ideal future - what does it look like? Who is in it? Where are you? What are you doing? What kind of life are you living? Now think - what am I doing NOW to get myself there?
What is one thing you would attempt if you know you wouldn’t fail? What’s stopping you from doing it now?
If you had a theme song, what would it be and why?
What animal do you think you are most like? Why?
What is something about you you feel like no one else truly knows? How can you share it?
What is one area of your life you want to improve in? How will you do it?
What is a short term goal you are currently working towards? What is a long term goal? How will you feel when you accomplish them?
List the 5 people you spend the most time with. Are these people you want to be like? Do they have qualities you respect?
What is the hardest thing you’ve ever gone through? What did you learn from it? Does it still effect you? How can you turn it into something good?
What do you feel is your strongest talent? How do you use it?
Who is someone you look up to? Why? What ways are you like them? What ways are you different?
What is the best compliment you’ve ever received? What made it so special?
What is your biggest accomplishment? What makes you so proud of it?
Write a letter to your college freshman self.
If you could live anywhere in the world, where would it be? Who would live near you? What kind of house would you have? Why?
What is your biggest fear? How often do you feel it? Is it rational?
What do you think your 10 year old self would think of you now?
I thought that maybe this post would be hard to write, and even harder to share. To be honest, it was so easy to hit that “publish” button. I think it’s because I’m sick of keeping the darkness in the dark. Anxiety and depression feed off of making you feel isolated and alone in your struggle. The more that you realize so many other people around you are experiencing the same things, the more you can start to feel like yourself again.
If you’re looking for a journal to help get you started, check out a few of my favorites from around the web:
1. ENCHANTE - 9 x 11 Cheetah Print Spiral Journal ($5.99)
PS - I know I’m not a licensed psychiatrist, therapist or anything like that. I just know what has helped me and hope it helps someone else. :)