Journaling: How it Can Help with Anxiety and Stress

It is a well-known fact that stress is part of our fast-paced life. However, the question is; how should we cope with it? Taking couple minutes of your day to reflect and write down your emotions might be the way for you to slow down your racing thoughts. In a recent study that had 70 participants with relatively high anxiety levels and different medical backgrounds, journaling for 15 minutes 3 days each week for 12 weeks, showed how it can be beneficial for overall well-being and decrease mental distress. Besides the short-term effects which includes instant relief, journaling was associated with decrease in anxiety symptoms after the first month. If you are convinced but don’t know how to start here is a little guide for you:

Freewriting: Write about your feelings and thoughts without any structure. Remember, journals are personal; don’t worry about any spelling mistakes, focus on expressing yourself freely.

Daily Journaling: Write down your mood, things that happened during the day on a daily basis. This type of journaling will help you observe the growth and changes you experience over time.

5-min Journals: Choose 3 to 5 questions that you want to answer right after you wake up and/or when go to bed and try to be as consistent as possible for the best results. Some examples can be:

  • I am…
  • I am grateful for…
  • What would make today great?
  • 3 good things that happened today…

Journaling is just one of the various ways to cope with anxiety and it might not be for everyone. If you experience any negative effects it’s totally fine seek another way. However, giving it a try definitely won’t hurt!


Smyth, J. M., Johnson, J. A., Auer, B. J., Lehman, E., Talamo, G., & Sciamanna, C. N. (2018). Online Positive Affect Journaling in the Improvement of Mental Distress and Well-Being in General Medical Patients With Elevated Anxiety Symptoms: A Preliminary Randomized Controlled Trial. JMIR Mental Health, 5(4), e11290.

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