How Writing Things Down Can Relieve Anxiety


If all this coronavirus crisis is causing chaos in your home and confusion in your thoughts, there may be some simple remedies to your stress. I hope to share with you today something you can do now, in just a few minutes and with simple things you may have within your reach that could provide some relief right now. So don't throw in the towel and quit, read on and then give this a try.


First, let me say on the serious side, that stress and anxiety are very real and they can be very dangerous! We have all found ourselves recently in a world that has been turned upside down in a very short amount of time. This worldwide pandemic called COVID-19 has caused real fear, worry and panic in many forms and at many levels. There is a tremendous amount of articles and information on this subject that is available now by professionals who can offer guidance. There is help for severe battles with despair and depression. There are people who care and resources available to you. Don't go it alone!


Thankfully, there are also lots of simple things that we can do on a daily basis that provide ways to cope with all the changes in our lives. Many have suggested simply going for a walk, a run or a bike ride. Start a new hobby. Do some exercises. Step outside into the sunshine and fresh air and take some deep breaths. Find whatever simple pleasure gives you some peace. Pray!


And then there is this idea that I want to share. Try writing!


There are many formal research studies that show evidence of how journaling helps with relieving stress, anxiety, depression and contributes to an over all sense of well-being. (A Google search on this subject will provide many examples if you like research analysis and case studies!) But the general consensus is that writing helps in at least three ways: 1) enables personal processing of emotions, 2) providing clarity of thoughts and 3) improving focus with difficult choices. And,besides mental and emotional health, there are many other proven benefits to note taking, writing and journaling too! For today, let's concentrate on coping with the anxiety of the present crisis.


There are some really easy things to do with writing that can go a long way towards providing relief from worries, stress and anxiety. None of them will work at all, though, unless you take some time to do it. So let's get started!

  1. Just grab a notebook, notepad or your personal journal, and your favorite pen, (and possibly a cup of coffee too!) and you're ready.

NOTE: I recommend using pen and paper to give you a break from all the screen time you're probably having right now. Digital journaling will work too, if that comes easier for you.

2. Appoint yourself a block of time (about 15-30 minutes) to work on this.

3. Write down these 3 "D's" and I'll briefly explain how it works. ----DECLUTTER, DOWNLOAD, and DOCUMENT.


DE-CLUTTER Your mind. Like everybody else, you probably have a million thoughts racing through your head right now. You may be dealing with what I call the "blender effect". It is this new reality that every aspect of your daily life that used to be somewhat neatly compartmentalized, have all been suddenly mixed in together! Work, school, household chores, meals (all three), processing endless streams of developing news, and leisure... have all been tossed together in one small space (your home)---like a blender! It can feel overwhelming if you can't sort it all out and decide where to start! We'll work on sorting it out next, but for now, just start jotting things down, without trying to analyze comment or even put into any particular order. Write down your appointments, to-do lists, plans, dreams, goals, calls to make, etc., etc. This practice is designed to just clear your head. Get it all out on paper where you know you can easily find your thoughts later. This is a decluttering or decompressing process.


NOW you can take all that random information and ORGANIZE and PRIORITIZE. Separation will help it all feel more manageable.

  • If you are working your job at home then grab your day-planner and organize your business related items on the list: conference calls, projects, orders, etc. and give them time blocks in the order you most likely need to accomplish them.

  • Add a time block for getting the kids started with school.

  • Schedule in your meal plan.

  • Pick and choose what projects you'll do today. Face the fact that you CAN'T get it ALL done today! Prioritize which day to order groceries, which day to clean the bathroom, mow the grass, laundry...but not all on the same day.


Let me just insert here that because the nature of my business does not require a special, separate day-planner, I write all my information in one notebook. I am presently using the Field Notes new Vingnette edition which has a unique personalization window feature. I made mine into a "COVID CRISIS Journal (see photo above). In it I am recording daily updates on the news developments, recording personal stories, my spiritual/devotional experiences and processing my emotional responses to it all. Someday I will be able to look back and read about this particular crazy time.


DOWNLOAD Your Emotions. Everyone is processing lots of emotions these days: frustration, fear, worry, anger, sadness, disappointment, grief. Each emotion may need to be processed differently, but at least consider this--- it may be better to unload your emotions on to paper than on to the people you love! Try writing them out. You may want to write in your journal and add descriptions of what, why and who. This will help work it out. Or just get some scrap paper and write them out big and bold and then throw it away! Get it off your shoulders.


DOCUMENT Your Experience. Are you keeping a journal or notebook handy to record these crazy times we're living in? Writing down some details of the experience has a way of helping you to process the enormity of it. Much like taking a photo, it is a way of subconsciously saying "I'm going to show this to somebody someday." Which insinuates also..."I'm going to get through this! I will survive! I will live to tell it!" The important thing here is that as you document the details you are capturing and condensing your crisis into chew-able little bites!


So write something down today. And add a little more tomorrow and the next day, a few minutes at a time. As you build a daily or weekly habit of writing, you may discover that you are not only coping with your anxiety, but you are also discovering another one of life's simple pleasures...what I like to call..."the simple pleasure of paper and pen."

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