Writing to Combat Anxiety
Anxiety can develop out of many smaller concerns until they have a cumulative affect and become a long-lasting problem. The weight of this problem can seem insurmountable and hinder your ability to recover, but writing can be an effective way of organising your thoughts and disrupting patterns of negative thinking.
There are many ways you can do this, one of the most common being to keep a journal. Simply setting aside a few minutes a day to collect yourself and note your progress can help fight longer bouts of anxiety. The more you write, the more you can reflect on your progress and patterns in your behaviour.
You can also turn to more artistic avenues and work through emotions by creating short stories, poems and sketches. Setting time for reflective activities mean you aren’t trying to forget about the problems you’re having, but rather re-routing that energy in a creative channel, helping improve your artistic skills as well as your mental wellbeing.
We wanted to hear how some of the internet’s best bloggers deal with their anxiety and what tips they have for our readers:
“I was a writer before I developed anxiety disorder, although I’ve had issues with depression which stem back to around about the time that I first started writing. The anxiety attacks began just over a year ago, and for about three months I was basically unable to function properly – I still did my job, but I worked from home most days and I spent most nights just lying there, shaking and unable to sleep.
At this time, I didn’t really write, and the novel that I’m now close to finishing languished at about 20,000 words for three months. Then I managed to slowly get back into writing, starting off with updating my journal. I’ve kept a journal since I was sixteen, but again, when the anxiety first kicked in, I kind of stopped that.
When I was well enough to make it through a full work week, I started making sure that I took proper breaks to try to keep my stress levels down, and so I started writing a series of poems called ‘Anxious Words’ on my lunchtime. That actually inspired me to start memorising my poetry and performing it at open mic nights, but at the time it was all about getting stuff out of my system.
I still have anxiety attacks, but not as often, and they’re not as severe. Those who are having a tough time should take up something simple that you can do to take your mind off things, and consider doing it before bed to help you to relax. For me, because writing is my thing, I wanted to do something different to that, so I wouldn’t just stress myself out by working really late. I took up colouring in, and I swear by it.”
Jenn Haskins from Hello Rigby
“For me, my anxiety has an internal causation. I don't react to social situations or high pressure at work - I react because my brain has decided to fear something and I obsess about it. My biggest relief from anxiety is finding things to keep my brain occupied so I don't have as much time to dwell on my fears.
I've always been a writer - I started writing a physical journal at a very young age. During busier times in my life, I would put the journal aside and stressful times in my life brought out the journal again to channel my energy. At some point in my middle and high school years, the journal moved online.
I picked up blogging about a year and a half ago to keep myself busy, but also to connect with other like-minded individuals. While I don't blog about my anxiety often, when I have, I've received an outpouring of support privately and publically. A lot of the people I have met also suffer from anxiety and depression and when prompted are inspired to share their own battles. For me, writing and blogging has kept me busy and helped calm my mind.
Whether you write for yourself or for others, about whatever is on your mind or specific topics, I highly recommend trying it to see if it will help your anxiety levels as well.”
Jessica Harquail from Health Fitness Boss
“To me, writing has always been a form of expressing myself. I find that I can express myself a lot easier when I can put all of my thoughts down on paper rather than try to blurt out everything I want or need to say. This can most likely be attributed to my anxiety, as I'm always fearful that what I'm about to say isn't going to be the right thing. I don't generally write about my feelings. For example: When I write a blog post about any kind of topic, I usually think about my readers and what I can put out there that will help them.
I've always been an anxiety-ridden person - ever since I can remember. I've been a worrier and bit my nails since I've had teeth and I’ve even suffered from stomach ulcers to just name a few. Having said this, I was never aware that anxiety was what I had and as a child I thought it was normal to feel the way I did. I never voiced how I was feeling because I thought it was normal. So now that I'm older, I feel that I can share my experiences through writing, whether that be on my blog or anywhere else. It may help a few of you who are in similar situations and it definitely helps me. Since I've been writing my blog and have been more open about my struggles I have found that it has helped me quite a lot in the sense that people are reaching out to me and sharing their stories with me. We try to help each other out and it makes both parties feel like they are understood and not alone. When it comes to anxiety, feeling like you belong somewhere is everything.”
“I have always, in some capacity, been a writer. From a very young age, writing came naturally to me. I enjoyed making up stories and crafting fantasy worlds and eventually this turned into personal journaling. Around age 14, I noticed that I had a hard time staying calm. It was a feeling I dreaded getting, when my gut would twist into knots and sometimes I would feel out of breath. I always thought maybe it was just worry, sometimes in big bouts or small sparks, but nothing to be scared of. Eventually I learned that it wasn't going to go away so easily.
I took to writing as my main source of anxiety relief almost immediately. One of the main problems I experience as someone with panic disorder is that I sometimes struggle, when I am anxious, to be rational. Normally, I haven't a single problem sorting through how I am feeling logically, rationally, and reasonably. Being anxious changes that entirely but writing forces me to break everything down into easy to understand parts. It makes me think in terms of a beginning, middle, and end and this process is nothing short of liberating.
Today, I keep a blog online. It is my space, and that is why I love it. I can write about deep thoughts I think and feel, or I can write about food, or music, or my struggles with anxiety. It gives me a place to process my own thoughts and feelings, and that makes my anxiety seem smaller and more conquerable.
Anxiety can be hard to understand, but it isn't all-consuming. It isn't a personal failure or a problem, it's just a road bump that you will find a way through and over. Keep that in mind always, and everything will work out in the end.”
We would like to send out a big thank you to all of our bloggers for sharing their stories and hope those of you battling anxiety find their exercises and tips helpful. You can find further advice at the following pages: