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3 Ways Writing Can Ease Your Anxiety

Being above-average is usually a good thing.

Unless you’re above-average in the anxiety disorder spectrum, where persistent anxious thoughts attack you most days and interfere with your daily life.

For me, anxiety used to be the norm. Though I never got diagnosed because in my part of the world, #MentalHealth is still a taboo, but I still remember days when worry crippled me so much, it was horrible. So I fought it myself using the only weapon I knew how to wield; the pen.

1.Analyze the situation through journaling

It’s always been clear that I’m a vocal supporter for journaling, and one reason is that writing things down helps you clarify your thoughts and structure them. It helps you dissect situations that bother you, and give you a different — hopefully more objective — perspective of what’s going on.

Also, here’s the thing I learnt about anxiety; it serves a purpose. It’s an emotion that occurs when we anticipate something dangerous or unpleasant might happen. Usually it’s fortified by a lack of concrete information surrounding that thing. For example, you might be anxious about the doctor’s test result because YOU DON’T know how it might turn out.

So here are a few questions to ask when you’re dealing with anxiety;

What am I so anxious about?

Why am I so anxious? What’s the worse that could happen?

Is there any way to mitigate the effects of the worse case scenario?

Can you take action on that now?

The moment you actually put everything into words, you’ll realize two things;

– The worse case scenario is not that bad

Or

– The worse case scenario is bad, but there are only a few things within your control to mitigate its effects.

– Focusing on those few things you can do usually makes you feel better because you’re not just sitting twiddling your thumbs.

2. Write Yourself a Future Letter

I’ve written about this in detail in this post; but the main idea is if you’re worried about something, use a service like futureme.org to write a letter to your future self detailing what it is you’re worried about, what the stakes are, and a positive encouraging statement in the end assuming the worse case scenario did come to pass. For example, “Dear AH, I’m writing this now because I don’t know if you’ll have a job come this summer. By the time you read this, maybe you’ve gotten a job, which means everything is all good and well. Maybe you’re still job hunting, and I just need to remind you not to be discouraged, and to keep on trying. You’re strong and talented, and maybe all these companies rejecting you were toxic anyway, so just keep on applying.”

3. Turn your worries into fiction

Anxiety combined with an active imagination can be really bad unless you’re a fiction writer. Then you can take all the “What if” scenarios playing in your head, and have your book’s characters go through them. This mental exercise allows you to distance yourself from the thing worrying you. I must admit this does not always work, especially if you drew your characters are a representation of who you are, but it is also worth a try.

Which method would you use to ease anxiety? Let me know on twitter @ahechoes.

If you like this post, support the work by sharing it with your friends on Facebook. Also, check out my fiction short story collection, “All Bleeding Stops and Other Short Stories from the Kenyan Coast” and subscribe to the newsletter here
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Published inJournalingLife LessonsPersonal DevelopmentWriting