As part of my therapy to recover from severe generalized anxiety, it was suggested that I created a new habit and it was to start writing down my thoughts and feelings daily. I was introduced to journaling to overcome anxiety in 2015 when I had major nerves break down due to stress.
So what is anxiety?
When most people say that they have anxiety, they are usually using shorthand to describe a condition that they have been diagnosed with.
The truth is that anxiety isn’t a condition, it is a feeling. It can be symptomatic of a number of different conditions including but not limited to a group of disorders called anxiety disorders. On the other hand, it’s a natural emotion that is normal and healthy to feel from time to time.
How do you know when your anxiety is abnormal or unhealthy and what do you do from there?
Understanding anxiety requires understanding something called the “stress response” or the “fight or flight system.” This is a natural body process that prepares you, mentally and physically, to deal with challenges. It starts with a stressor, usually some kind of perceived threat. This triggers the release of hormones, one class of the “messenger molecules” that help different parts of your mind and body communicate with each other.
These chemicals lead to a number of changes in the way in which your body works including changes that you probably don’t notice, like slowing down your digestion and changes that you probably do notice – a faster heartbeat and faster breaths. The faster breath helps more oxygen get into your blood and a faster heartbeat helps to circulate that oxygenated blood through your body, especially to your muscles.
Usually, these symptoms come on somewhat gradually due to something that you have good reason to worry about. It usually isn’t scary, and it may even help you to do what you need to do to resolve or leave the situation.
Sometimes, however, it comes on quickly. It may be brought on by fears of things that aren’t likely to happen. Those changes to your heartbeat and breathing may be so severe that they cause chest pain and lightheadedness. You may even feel like you are going to die. This is called an “anxiety attack” or a “panic attack,” and it’s a major sign that you might have an anxiety disorder or a related condition.
Does Having an Anxiety Attack Mean that a Person Has Anxiety?
Having one panic attack doesn’t mean that you have an anxiety disorder, and having an anxiety disorder doesn’t mean that you are always having a panic attack – or even that you have them often. Above we discussed the physical aspect of anxiety but those physical aspects are brought on by emotional feelings of anxiety.
These feelings are usually worrying about or being afraid of things. As the physical aspects of anxiety, the emotional aspects of anxiety is normal and healthy if it only happens from time to time when there is actually something to worry about. (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder is a condition suffered by people who experience high levels of stress or anxiety over a legitimately frightening event like combat, violent crime or abuse, or even bad traffic collisions).
People with anxiety disorders, however, experience these feelings of stress, fear, and anxiety most of the time, even when nothing stressful or scary is happening. These feelings may be so severe and so constant that they interfere with the way that people live their daily lives. The physical symptoms of prolonged stress can also lead to health problems.
One of the main differences between anxiety disorders has to do with what kinds of events or fears trigger the feelings of anxiety. General feelings of anxiety that don’t seem to be caused by anything characterize “Generalized Anxiety Disorder,” while fears of very specific things are called phobias. These are some of the most common anxiety disorders but there are others as well.
What to Do if You Think You Have Anxiety? How to Overcome Anxiety?
There are a number of quizzes and symptom checkers online that you can use to try to determine whether you have anxiety. None of them are substitutions for the diagnosis of a medical expert, however.
There are no real tests for anxiety, so the diagnosis of anxiety disorders and related conditions is usually based on the symptoms that a patient describes to a general healthcare provider or mental health expert. You should definitely consult your doctor if you have any of the trademark signs and symptoms.
Treatments may range from prescription medications to talk-therapy, to diet and lifestyle changes. These will depend on the nature and severity of the disorder and on the preferences of the individual.
In my specific case, I used all of the mentioned treatments and one, in particular, is what I want to talk about here today. It is Journaling. I use Journaling to Overcome Anxiety.
I must say that I always liked writing when I was in school, so the idea of writing was not too much out of my comfort zone. Except, this time, in full blown anxiety moment, I had to write about my own anxious thoughts and feelings. All had to be about myself and that’s when I immediately started to feel a wave of emotions came up before I even started. Did I mention I have anxiety?
I couldn’t grasp the idea of writing about myself in details, without feeling stressed. I was really sick at the time, so everything was overwhelming to me, to say the least.
Journaling is a very therapeutic exercise and the consistent practice of it has helped calm my mind, get rid of negative thoughts, decompress from the daily stresses and work through my anxious feelings to start focusing on what’s really important: Live a better, calmer life.
At each therapy session, we would go over my notes from the previous week and we would talk about the situation, thoughts, fears and feelings I had written down.
The best part of it all is when you go back and read your own notes a week later, you will notice that whatever worry you had in the past had either sorted itself out or maybe it was not that big of a deal after all anyway. This simple exercise helps you get a different view on things, a different perspective and as a result, you start feeling better, knowing that it doesn’t have to be all or nothing.
There are better ways to deal with negative thoughts and emotions, we just need to be willing to pay more attention to catch ourselves doing it.
Self-awareness is key here and once you have that step figured out… the rest is just practice.
When you have a negative thought, stop and redirect your attention to something positive. Change the direction of the thought. It takes practice, but it really works.
Daily journaling is a wonderful habit that can transform your life, but you have to be willing to do the work required to experience the transformation.
Journaling works best when you create space for it in your life.
I know there could be a bit of resistance at first, you might feel silly having to write what’s on your mind, but once you get over that first negative thought and give it a try, if you stick with it, you will understand the freedom that comes with this practice as you enter the journey to discover who you really are.
Some people prefer to journal first thing in the morning so they can start their days feeling energized. Others prefer the quiet of early afternoons or late nights. I have to be in a quiet room, away from distractions to be able to fully concentrate on my thoughts, especially when I’m feeling anxious.
Whatever your preferred time to write is, choose a time that feels right to you and set aside 20-30 minutes to write your thoughts and feelings.
Keep in mind that your journal is a judgement free zone. Just write what’s on your mind. I’m sure you will have lot’s to write about once you get started.
It’s OK if you misspell a word, use a run-on sentence, or even forget punctuation altogether. It’s your journal, you can do whatever you want. You are not writing to impress others or earn an “A” on your report card. Don’t stress over it.
You’re writing for yourself and you’re the only one that will ever read these words.
“A day thinking about what could happen, should happen, or what might have been, is a day missed.” – Headspace App
If you think you don’t know what to write about, start by asking yourself some questions, then writing the answers down. It shouldn’t be complicated, Here are some examples:
How do I feel at this present moment?
What happened that made me feel this way?
Does feeling this way help solve the problem or issue?
And so on…
And to make the journaling experience even more relevant to you, I’ve created a document that you can either print to fill it out later or do it right from the document itself, as it is a fillable PDF file, then save it to your computer for future reference.
There are so many known techniques that can help you manage stress and anxiety. This simple journaling technique helps me overcome my anxious feelings every time!
Journaling to Overcome Anxiety is a process, it gets better the more you do it. It’s for anyone that can write and it offers many benefits to your mental health.
Are you happy with how much you accomplish every day? If not, mindfulness practice might be the key to better productivity. These five mindfulness practices can help you check more things off your to-do list on a daily basis.
Mindfulness can be cultivated through mindfulness meditation, a systematic method of focusing your attention. You can learn to meditate on your own, following instructions in books or on tape. However, you may benefit from the support of an instructor or group to answer questions and help you stay motivated. Look for someone using meditation in a way compatible with your beliefs and goals. Source: https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm/
I follow these simple yet effective mindfulness practices every day and the benefits are incredible! Using mindfulness to build a better life is a proven technique to improve the emotional and physical well-being.
Here they are;
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If you visited my site before, you know by now that I’m a huge fan of meditation!
Meditation is a common mindfulness practice for a reason: it works. And while regular meditation produces more advantages than sporadic meditation, even a beginner can reap impressive benefits from taking a few minutes to sit down and clear their mind.
If you don’t currently meditate, start small. Five to ten minutes is a good starting point for most people. Get away from distractions, close your eyes if you want, and focus on clearing your mind. Your attention will probably wander a little at first, which is normal.
Over time, though, you’ll have an easier time clearing the clutter from your thoughts, and this will lead to better focus throughout your workday. This mindfulness practice will give you amazing results.
Spending time in nature is great for your mind. It boosts your mood, banishes stress, and helps you refocus your attention. Aim to get at least fifteen or twenty minutes of fresh air every day, preferably in a green space like a park or even your backyard.
Take a Few Deep Breaths
Feeling scattered? If you don’t have time for a meditation session, pause to centre yourself with a few slow, deep breaths instead. Deep breathing lowers your stress levels along with your blood pressure by stimulating your parasympathetic nervous system. The end result?
You end up feeling calmer, more present in the moment, and more prepared to get things done.
Unplug. Yes, unplug!
Gadgets like smartphones and laptops are very convenient, but they can be terrible for your state of mind.
If you’re in the habit of checking your phone every five minutes, you’re probably living in a state of constant distraction, instead of focusing on the present moment. You don’t have to give up your electronics completely, but your mindfulness – and your productivity – will improve if you limit your gadget use.
Designate specific times of the day to check your email and surf the web, and turn off your electronics outside of those times.
You will notice how liberating it is to have a few hours without any dings, rings or notifications! I turn all my notifications off and I only look at the phone when I have the time or want to.
Write in a Journal
Journaling is a simple and useful way to track your thoughts, reflect on events, and bring your mind into the present moment. Take a few minutes every morning to jot down what you’re thinking and feeling, as well as what you hope to accomplish during the day.
Use a physical notebook and pen for this – typing on a computer doesn’t bring the same mindfulness benefits.
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Here is a link to my favourite Journal, for when you are ready to start Journaling. The one I love the most is from DailyGreatness, it combines a yearly diary, goal and appointment planner, and daily tools for self-mastery.
Mindfulness practices can make you happier, less stressed, and more productive. In addition to formal meditation, you can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. This is done by single-tasking—doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you floss your teeth, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses. Source: https://www.helpguide.org/harvard/benefits-of-mindfulness.htm/
If you want to get more done on a daily basis, try making these simple mindfulness practices part of your regular routine and start creating a better life!
Did you enjoy these tips? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!
I’m always reading about new techniques that will help me reduce stress on a daily basis.
I love learning about how stress affects our daily lives and I enjoy finding ways to reduce the impacts of stress.
From finances and health concerns to lengthy to-do lists, there are numerous sources of strain in the lives of most people. We are living in this era of constant new technology and fast-paced evolution, it’s no surprise we are always overstimulated, constantly plugged in and stressed.
We need techniques to help us decompress and regain focus on our well-being.
According to a survey conducted by Wakefield Research, 68% of people feel stress on a weekly basis and 32% are stressed every day. Women, in particular, are impacted, as 25% surveyed reported experiencing stress multiple times a day. Chronic stress can lead to or exacerbate mood disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar, cognitive & behavioral issues.
So what can we do to help minimize the impacts of stress in our daily lives?
A surprisingly simple way to relieve stress is not a new gadget or an app, it’s not a new drug or a new type of exercise. It’s simply flowers.
I love flowers! As you see I have lots of pretty photos of flowers on this site, they make me smile and feel happy and I wasn’t even aware of this new research until today.
New research from the University of North Florida’s Department of Public Health shows that living with flowers can significantly alleviate daily stress.
These findings follow decades of behavioral research studies conducted by researchers at universities including Harvard, Rutgers and Texas A&M that demonstrate flowers’ ability to make people happy, strengthen feelings of compassion, foster creativity, improve your mood and even provide boosts of energy.
The study, titled The Impact of Flowers on Perceived Stress Among Women, concludes that adding flowers to indoor environments results in a statistically significant and meaningful reduction in stress.
“There is a growing body of research that illustrates how environmental design positively impacts health,” said the lead researcher Erin Largo-Wight, Ph.D., associate professor of the University of North Florida’s Department of Public Health. “Now it is both intuitive and scientifically known that adding elements of nature, like flowers, to interiors promotes well-being.”
The specific results include:
The average reduction in stress among women who received and lived with flowers was minus-5.5 points on the perceived stress questionnaire, a significant statistical decrease in stress.
Flowers are a unique gift with the proven potential to reduce stress among women, likely because flowers provide the opportunity for nature contact, an established health-promoting environmental exposure.
Participants who received flowers overwhelmingly reported that flowers improved their moods.
“Our findings are important from a public health perspective because adding flowers to reduce stress does not require tremendous effort to generate a meaningful effect,” Largo-Wight said. “When life seems to be in a constant state of frenzy, flowers can provide a much-needed moment of calm.”
For more information about the study, along with tips on relieving stress, visit aboutflowers.com
I always enjoyed admiring pretty flowers, big or small gardens with different types and colors of flowers and little did I know that by doing this simple task I was improving my well-being.
It’s been proven and it actually works! What a nice habit to keep!
Have you stopped to enjoy the flowers today?
Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!
I do a lot of research on Mindfulness and Meditation, primarily because I have dealt with Depression and Anxiety before and Mindfulness and Meditation were suggested to me while I was in therapy, but also because you can get truly amazing results from practicing it.
When I first started to meditate, it felt strange, I didn’t really know if I was doing it right, I wasn’t sure if I was going to like it, how can this benefit me? Being the busy bee that I was, trapped into the worry cycle about everything, I couldn’t understand how taking a moment to breathe would help me.
But after a few tries, I was hooked! I became more involved in the process of calming my mind to control my anxiety and started feeling the benefits of it almost instantly.
What mindfulness does is create some space in your head so you can, “respond” rather than simply “react.” It creates a sense of calm and it’s exactly what I need to stay in tune with myself.
Now, I enjoy the moment of calmness and clarity, I practice it every day and can honestly say that learning this technique has changed my life.
I’m still learning more about the topic but I would like to share with you some of the basics of Mindfulness and Meditation. I’m sharing my findings in hopes that you too will benefit from a calmer mind, reduce stress from the daily routine and live with greater ease.
What is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the psychological process of bringing one’s attention to experiences occurring in the present moment while acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, bodily sensations and the surrounding environment.
Mindfulness is a way of meeting our experience with the presence of mind to respond skillfully to life’s challenges, rather than reacting based on intense emotions.
Mindfulness is simple, but not easy. It is a skill that we need to practice. When we practice it, mindfulness allows us to live with a greater sense of calm, balance, and ease.
I like to sit straight up on the park bench with both feet firmly touching the ground and my hands resting on my thighs. This open up your airways and helps you to feel solid, but still comfortable.
Then I find a single spot on the lake to focus my eyes and begin to breathe deeply in through my nose and out through my mouth, paying close attention to the breath as it fills and empties my lungs and stomach. Any random thoughts that pop up are briefly accepted and then immediately tossed aside.
Next, I ask myself, “What am I feeling right now?” Whatever the emotion rises to the surface (which is usually something like anger, guilt, anxiety, frustration, or annoyance), I acknowledge it by saying, “It’s ok to feel this way now, everyone feels this way. I don’t have to figure it out. I can accept that it is there.”
Gathering up all of this fully received emotion, I imagine it is a pebble, rock, or even boulder and picture throwing the stone into the lake. In my mind eye I watch the ripples created by the impact spread across the water, and then absorb into the lake and disappear. I usually repeat this exercise until the emotion I’m feeling is instead relief, joy, happiness, peace, or satisfaction.
To wrap up the little ritual I refocus my breath, say good-bye to the lake, and walk away.
This simple yet powerful practice creates a sense of calmness and clarity.
Another amazing way to start meditating, if you have never done it, is by listening to a guided meditation.
I particularly enjoy this type of meditation. I like having the guidance, it helps me relax even more as I follow the narrator’s instructions. I find it very powerful.
Guided meditation is when you are guided, by a narrator, to elicit a specific change in your life.
You are first guided to relax your body and mind, to help you reach a deep meditative state before going on a journey, in your mind, to reach a specific goal.
There are many studies that show that practicing something in your mind is almost as good as practicing it in real life.
The beauty of a guided meditation is that you can bring about change in your body by using your mind, and that means activating muscles, changing your biological state, and even changing the way the cells in your body work.
Meditation is the simple way to reframe stress, bringing you calm and balance to your life.
With guided meditation, you don’t need to know how to meditate.
All that’s required is that you listen, and you’ll move effortlessly into the renewing waters of your subconscious mind.
The subconscious mind has control over the 37.2 trillion cells of your body, and also regulates and connects all 12 systems that keep you alive and functional, including the cardiovascular (heart), endocrine gland, respiratory, nervous, immune, circulatory, digestive, lymphatic (detoxing), musculoskeletal, reproductive and urinary systems.
That is truly impressive and should never be taken for granted.
Among many benefits, here is a small list of a few of the benefits you will find after a mindful meditation session.
It quiets the voices in your head, makes you appreciate the present more, decreases your anxiety over the past and future, and makes you a better person. It helps you focus on the things that matter the most to you improving your overall wellbeing.
Alleviates anxiety, depression, and negative attitudes
Reduces fatigue and exhaustion
Puts you in touch with your confidence, joy, enthusiasm, and self- worth
Improves brain function and actually lights up your mind
Brings you back to being heart centered and lovable
These are just a few of the many powerful benefits of a 15 to 20 minutes of daily practice.
Guided Meditation and deep relaxation will help you to train your brain to slow down, enjoy life, and accept yourself.
So take back your power and get control over yourself and your life!
It is the most important investment you can make in yourself.
Gratitude can be simply defined as appreciating the good things in your life.
It doesn’t always seem simple, though. When things are hectic or stressful, finding the silver lining can be challenging.
However, learning how to embrace gratitude can significantly boost your happiness.
Life gets easier when we are happy.
Being grateful offers a host of other benefits you’re probably not aware of. Let’s take a closer look at the concept, the ways it can improve your life and how to practice it.
There are many definitions of gratitude.
Some people believe it’s a feeling or emotion and others look at it as more of a mood. Some folks believe gratitude is a personality trait a person exhibits. These can all be correct.
In essence, gratitude elicits satisfaction and appreciation in a person through feelings, actions or even inherent qualities. However, even those of us who may be more inclined to feel grateful on a regular basis through our glass-half-full-optimism likely need to work on evoking such an outlook.
Gratitude can be viewed as a practice or something you perform regularly. Most people practice something because it benefits them.
This is true of gratitude. As with other practices, you’ll get better at demonstrating gratitude the more you work at it.
Benefits of Embracing Gratitude
There are many benefits of gratitude; many of them have been scientifically proven.
Once you begin to understand these, chances are good that you’ll see why it’s so important to develop a grateful mindset.
Gratitude can have a positive effect on both physical and mental health.
Research has shown it to improve relaxation, sleep quality and energy levels.
Being thankful for your blessings can enhance your emotional wellness.
You’ll deal better in crisis situations and find you’re more resilient when you’re able to look on the bright side.
This can contribute to better relationships, too.
Appreciating the positives in life can simply make you feel happier.
Ways to Practice Gratitude
Recognizing your blessings may not come easily at first, but there are some ways to help make it a habit and a regular part of your routine.
Keeping a gratitude journal is one of the most convenient and impactful methods for cultivating appreciation. In this practice, you’ll write down three things each day that you’re grateful for, which makes it easier to notice and recognize those good things. It helps to say them out loud too.
Meditation has also been shown to help. Meditation is an active practice that involves deepening our concentration and returning to the present moment. Be more present, live in the now.
Thank someone each day, for even the smallest thing, opens your eyes and heart to abundance.
Giving back and doing good for others can provide tremendous perspective, as well.
Here is a quick exercise you can do to get started on your Gratitude practice:
5 Minute Guided Meditation for Gratitude
Now you have a better idea of just what making a concerted effort to count your blessings can do for your life.
Embracing and expressing gratitude are more important than many of us realize.
What are you grateful for today? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear from you!
You’ve probably heard of both meditations and affirmations, though you may be uncertain of just what they are and how they work. They may even seem a bit too new age for you, but don’t underestimate their power just yet.
These two practices are actually quite simple to add to your routine or even to use in a particularly stressful moment to gain perspective.
Take a look below to learn about how to use gratitude meditations and affirmations to boost your spirit anytime.
What is Meditation?
Meditation is really just a practice of taking some quiet time to be mindful and focus your attention on a particular thought or issue.
It’s a moment of silent reflection that focuses you on the here and now.
Gratitude meditations involve focusing your thoughts on being grateful for the particulars of your life or situation, even the ones that may not seem so positive.
Your gratitude journaling can be considered a meditation. Any contemplative, purposeful time spent focused on being grateful can fall into this category.
What Are Affirmations?
Affirmations are short, concise and positive sentences that are meant to purposefully affect the ways in which we think and feel.
These can be in both conscious and unconscious ways. What we think greatly influences how we feel and behave. Introducing these positive messages into your life on a regular basis can help you to internalize them and begin living accordingly.
Gratitude affirmations focus specifically on being grateful and appreciative.
How to Use Them
Both meditation and affirmation are easy to put into practice.
They can be practised almost any time and anywhere. When you think of meditation, a long, intensive ritual may come to mind. In actuality, you don’t need to spend a lot of time meditating in order to reap the benefits.
Simply sitting quietly for a few minutes, 5 to 10 min, and contemplating on what you’re grateful for can help to center you and to provide a new perspective, which often will lead to feeling better.
If you want something more structure or have more time, you can look up guided gratitude meditations online or grab a meditation app to try.
When it comes to affirmations, a good practice might be to combine them with your gratitude journal. Write down positive messages that apply to your life and help to inspire or motivate you.
Perhaps you want to keep them in a separate journal or store them online. Then you can pull out your collection of affirmations for a pick-me-up when you need one.
Gratitude meditations and affirmations are simple tools that offer a big return. They take only a few minutes a day to practice, and you really don’t need any special equipment.
I absolutely love the videos from Les and Sarah Raymond, they are the founders of The Mindful Movement. I’ve been following them for a while now and I love their work in helping others live a more mindful life, deepening their awareness and sense of gratitude.
Give them a try when you feel you could use an injection of gratitude into your life.
How do you boost your spirit? Let me know in the comments below, I would love to hear from you!