You may know anxiety so well that you’re basically BWFFs (best and worst friends forever). Still, it often has a way of sneaking up on you and ruining your whole effing day. Anxiety can be especially tricky because you aren’t always aware of what’s causing it, even if your thoughts are racing and your mind is buzzing, says psychiatrist and psychotherapist Melissa Shepard, MD. And even when you do know, “it’s hard to really figure out where to start to untangle things.” That’s why putting your thoughts down on paper—every last worrisome one of them—can be helpful for a lot of people. Writing everything down forces you to slow your roll and move through it, she adds.
Whether you’re an avid journaler or you’re just looking for an outlet for your anxious feels, we got you. The anxiety journal prompts below can be a great way to hit pause on your anxiety spiral and start investigating those overwhelming thoughts. But first, a quick note from Dr. Shepard: If you find that writing about your anxiety and how it makes you feel actually makes your anxiety worse, then go ahead and take a break (or skip it). And if at any point your anxiety becomes too much to handle on your own, it may be a good idea to seek professional support from a therapist who can also work on these prompts with you, Dr. Shepard notes.
Get ready to untangle your anxious thoughts with these journal prompts:
1. How does your anxiety make you feel mentally (other than, you know, anxious)?
2. How do you talk to yourself when you’re feeling anxious? Do you find that you’re gentle with yourself or are you kind of judgy and negative? How does either make you feel?
3. Think of a time when you were really anxious but the situation went better than you expected. What did you learn from that experience?
4. Where does anxiety show up in your body? How does it make you physically feel right now or in general?
5. List the best-case scenario that could happen based on what you’re anxious about. Is this maybe just as likely as the worst-case scenario? How would you feel if things fell somewhere in the middle?
6. What thoughts are going through your head right now? List them out as they come up, and read them over once you feel like you’ve written enough. Make your way down the list and ask yourself if you have solid proof that each of these thoughts is true. If not, go ahead and cross it out.
7. What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever given someone else when they were anxious? Write out what it would sound like if you gave that same advice to yourself.
8. What are you currently most anxious about? Write that out, then list a few things that are in your control and others that are out of your control.
9. Write a goodbye letter to your anxiety. What do you want it to know before it leaves? (You can also verbally assault it, if you want. You do you.)
10. If you haven’t already, make a to-do list for today (if it’s the morning) or tomorrow (if it’s nighttime). Cross out anything that doesn’t absolutely need to get done. Then, make a list of things you really want to do as a mental health break or to boost your mood. This list should have at least three different things on it that you’re willing to get to.
11. List three things or people that made you smile recently. What happened in these situations?
12. Can you pinpoint anything you’re constantly anxious about? (Like you’ve noticed you worry about your health a lot or you’re scared of driving to places you’ve never been before.) How long have you seen this pattern of worry, and what would make you feel better about it?
13. What would your most relaxed self say right now? Try to get to that place of calm, and write down what that version of yourself would say about what you’re currently worried about.
14. What would a day without anxiety look and feel like? What would you do during that time?
15. What do you need to feel supported right now? How do you define support? Are there people you can text or call? Are there things you can do for yourself?
16. Are any of your aspirations in life causing you anxiety? Are your dreams worth the anxiety right now? Why or why not?
17. Imagine that your anxiety is trying to be helpful in some way. What good might come from the anxiety you’re feeling? Or, what positives can you find from working through the current anxiety you have?
18. What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard about anxious thoughts? Who said this advice, and how might you be able to apply it to what you’re anxious about at this very moment?
19. List as many things as you can that make you feel safe and comforted. Which of these can you turn to in this moment?
20. Is there anything you’re avoiding because of your anxiety? In other words, what is anxiety holding you back from? Write about why that is and what you might be able to do about it.
21. What are you most thankful for today, and why? If you’re struggling to think of things in your immediate reality, think bigger (like…the fact that puppies exist!).
22. Is there anyone you want to forgive in your life (it could be yourself)? Write that person a note or, if you don’t feel comfortable with that, list out the pros and cons of forgiving them.
23. Rate your anxiety on a scale of 1 to 10. What could make your anxiety even a little bit better/get a lower rating?
24. When was a time that you let go of someone or something that was causing you stress or pain? How did letting go make you feel? Is there anything right now that you can let go of?
25. List at least three strengths you believe you have. Are any of these strengths impacted by anxiety? Do you still consider them strengths despite your anxiety? Are there things you can do to make sure anxiety doesn’t interfere with these strengths?
Wondermind does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Any information published on this website or by this brand is not intended as a replacement for medical advice. Always consult a qualified health or mental health professional with any questions or concerns about your mental health.