How Journaling Can Help Reduce Stress and Anxiety?

Journaling has many mental health benefits, including reduction of anxiety and stress. (Image via Pexels/Jess Bailey)
Journaling has many mental health benefits, including reduction of anxiety and stress. (Image via Pexels/Jess Bailey)

Journaling is a self-improvement tool in which individuals keep a record of their thoughts, feelings, behaviors, etc. It allows individuals to process their thoughts and describe their emotions without being judged. Over time, those who practice journaling become confident due to acceptance and positive self-image.

Journaling has been shown to have several positive impacts on an individual’s mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Besides the psychological benefits of keeping a journal, there are others, too.


The process of writing down your feelings and thoughts during journaling helps to cut off excessive mental noise related to circumstances or events. This nonstop chatter could frame our perception of the situation, often incorrectly, and lead to feelings of guilt, inadequacy, loss, etc. Journaling thus helps people to overcome brooding over the past and to look at their life through loving and accepting lenses.

Emotional self-awareness is an incredibly valuable trait that an individual can have, and the routine of maintaining a journal allows people to reflect upon their responses. This habit of self-reflection allows them to be empathetic and see differing viewpoints clearly.

Emotion regulation can be difficult, yet we have to be on top of our emotions on a constant basis. Writing our feelings into a journal lets us express our feelings freely, which facilitates better emotion regulation.

We may have a tendency to bottle up or mask our complex and fiery emotions, which will provide temporary relief but cause long-term damage. Journaling provides a safe outlet to put these emotions down and help the individual to process them. It takes away feelings of shame and encourages the person to open up about their issues to others.

Journaling and Stress

Stress is a serious medical condition that impacts an individual physically, mentally, and emotionally. Stressors can either be sudden, like the sudden loss of a job or they can gradually build up over a period of time like a gradual increase in workload at a high-pressure job.

Stress affects individuals in many ways, and its impact can be seen in sleep quality, body aches, chronic fatigue, mood shifts, and substance abuse. Journaling has been shown to be incredibly helpful for those facing stress and stressors in their lives.

Journaling helps people identify the key stressors in their lives, which is the first step toward stress alleviation. Long-term stressors can be gathered from perusing the journal entries over time, and this could help the patient in stating the problem clearly and without assumptions.

After identifying a particular stressor through the act of journaling, individuals can be better prepared to face them in the future. They can process the stressor by writing about it in their journals and avoid the stressor in the future if possible. They can use the knowledge gained from the process to find solutions to their stressors.

As the act of journaling involves noting down thoughts and feelings on a regular basis, individuals can spot negative behaviors and thought patterns soon enough. They can change their response accordingly before it is too late.

Journaling involves noting down both good and bad experiences, thoughts, and feelings. This helps individuals keep a positive and balanced outlook on their life situation as usually people tend to focus only on the negative.

Traumatic events are hard for anyone to process and the usual reaction is to ignore the event as it can cause a significant amount of stress. Through journaling, individuals gain control over how to respond to such situations and put it behind them.

Journaling and Anxiety

Similar to its effect on stress, the practice of noting emotions, feelings, and situations into a journal on a regular basis has alleviating effects on the anxiety levels of an individual. It is a tool to cut down the negative tuning to anxiety.

Research shows that those who have started journaling so reduced levels of anxiety after just a month. This is a result of individuals learning to identify their triggers that cause anxiety.

Journaling forces individuals to see the brighter side of things and have a positive outlook on life, build strong relationships, enjoy good experiences, and develop their mental resilience. As anxiety is a form of mental disorder, it can be controlled through the practice of journaling.

Journaling improves problem-solving abilities and focus. Those who are chronically anxious are unable to do certain tasks, and journaling can pitch in by being a practice in acquiring better concentration. It helps them understand their problems, concerns, and fears while providing them with tools to help in that situation.

Wrapping Up

Those looking to improve their response to their stress and anxiety issues can start their practice of journaling as soon as possible. To begin with, they need to choose what they will journal in, an old-fashioned journal book or online on one of their devices.

It may seem daunting to start, but journaling is a habit easy to get into. (Image via Pexels/Jessica Lewis Creative)
It may seem daunting to start, but journaling is a habit easy to get into. (Image via Pexels/Jessica Lewis Creative)

The next step is to keep it simple and pick a particular time of day to write the journal. End of the day or early morning work well although any time of day is fine, but the key is to stick to it. Start by journaling for a few minutes daily and build from there. Individuals can choose what they wish to write in their journal. For those who need help, the internet has several useful prompts to get them started.

Steve Verghese is a trained psychologist with an MSc in Counseling Psychology from the Indian Institute of Psychology and Research.

Poll : Do you journal for mental health benefits?



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Edited by Ramaa Kishore
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