Many people say that one of the of the toughest aspects of struggling with anxiety is that it can seem like such a lonely battle.
You may be desperate to talk to someone about it, to explain to those closest to you exactly what it feels like and how it affects you.
But the words can be hard to find. It’s all just jumbled up inside your head. How do you put feelings into words? And even when some words do come out, you may tell yourself inside that that isn’t what you meant at all.
You may feel that no-one understands. They may tell you it’s all in your head, or you just need to get over it – or something else equally unhelpful. It’s almost like only another anxiety sufferer will understand exactly what you mean.
I know what that’s like. And I’ve also listened to others tell exactly the same story.
There is another way, though.
Journalling – or simply just writing stuff down – can have a dramatic impact on getting all those bottled up thoughts, feelings and frustrations outside of you. And this can release a huge amount of the built up pressure of internalised anxiety.
And the best of it is, whatever you write doesn’t even have to make sense! It’s not for anyone else. It’s just for you.
So, forget about neat writing if you want, correct spelling, sentence structure, punctuation and all that other grammar stuff. You don’t even have to right in straight lines. Nobody is going to be marking this and you are not trying to write the next book to top the bestseller lists (although who knows!).
And don’t forget that a picture says a thousand words. So doodle. Draw. Find creative ways to express yourself on paper.
You might like to invest a high quality notebook and pen. This is your special book, after all, and you should look forward to writing in it.
You might want to consider the privacy of this book. How would you feel if someone found it? This may not be an issue for you. Or if it is, you might like to consider keeping it locked away or hidden. Some people like the idea of writing out difficult feelings or thoughts and then burning or shredding the paper – a symbolic act of erasing them that also ensures no-one else can ever read it.
If you decide to keep your work, however, it can serve as a useful reminder to look back and see just how far you have come over time. This can strengthen your resolve and fire up your enthusiasm to keep moving forward, a little bit more every day.
And, of course, getting all this stuff outside of you and down on to paper can help to organise your own thoughts, make more sense of your feelings and understand more about just how anxiety affects you specifically.
When you can do this, you may well find it much easier to explain it all to those nearest and dearest to you in a way that they can understand and in exactly the way you intend.
Matt Addie is a fully qualified clinical hypnotherapist and mindfulness facilitator based in Macclesfield, Cheshire. Matt specialises in helping people with panic attacks, phobias, social anxiety, generalised anxiety, lack of confidence and other anxiety related issues using a range of techniques that may include hypnotherapy, mindfulness, neuro-linguistic programming (NLP), coaching and various psychotherapy approaches.
This article contains the personal views and opinions of the author, which may change over time. It is intended to be for information only and does not constitute medical advice. For medical and health advice, always consult a qualified medical professional.