Can worry journal help us to manage stress

Have you ever felt stressed or worried? When those feelings come knocking, some people like to talk about their concerns with friends or family. And that's perfectly fine, as it can help you feel better. But here's another way to deal with these feelings: a worry journal. This simple journal can be a powerful tool to face those uncomfortable emotions. It lets you write down what's bothering you and helps you figure out what to do about it. I understand the power of worry all too well, as I'm often called a "born worrier." Worry can make you feel anxious, stressed, and fearful, even about small things. But with a worry journal, you can regain control and find clarity when life gets tough.In my blog, I'm discussing if a worry journal can help with stress.

Relief from my worries:

I recently discovered a simple way to calm my worries: using a worry journal. When I used to fret, I'd turn to Google for answers. During one of my searches, I found out about worry journaling. Trying it for the first time, I felt a sense of calm wash over me, like my racing thoughts had taken a break. It was as if I stepped into a different mental space, one free from constant overthinking. Writing down my worries helped me realize that many of them weren't as bad as they felt, and some were unlikely to happen, which gave me comfort. It's amazing how something so easy can bring such relief.

An expert opinion:

Fiona Hall, a counselor and psychotherapist in Dublin, explains that our worries often feel much bigger in our minds than they really are. She says these worries can pile up and make us more stressed. Writing down our worries can give us a new perspective and help us tell the difference between real concerns and imagined ones. It also helps us become more aware of how we see things. This way, we can understand the gap between what actually happens and how we think about it.

Get started with your worry journal

Starting your worry journal is a breeze – just go with the method that feels right for you. I like to write freely, so I put my worry at the top of the page like a title and let all my thoughts spill out onto the page below. It's like a mental download, and it can feel pretty good. You can also experiment with other ways like making lists or drawings if that suits you better. The important thing is to make it work for you and make it a regular practice to calm your mind.
When I face situations beyond my control, I list down all the possible outcomes that could happen.

Pick your way to start:

1. Get a pen and paper, and jot down all your worries, no matter how small.

2. Try setting a 3-minute timer and list your worries. The goal is to finish before the timer ends.

3. Dedicate a page to each worry, and dig deep to understand the core of the issue. (This method has worked best for me, personally).

Ask yourself:

What's the main thing you're worried about?

What are you afraid might occur?

Where could this worry have started?

The Spidergram of Worries

For a worry journal technique, Fiona Hall suggests using a "spidergram" (or spider diagram). Here's how to create one:

1. Begin with a central bubble and write "My Worries" inside.

2. Draw more bubbles around it and write down your worries and concerns.

3. Start a new page and pick one of your worries to place in the central bubble.

4. Add surrounding bubbles with these headings:

   - Event

   - Initial Feelings

   - Initial Thoughts

   - Thoughts After Thinking

   - Reframing

   - Learning

5. Keep breaking down the worry into smaller bubbles.

Fiona Hall mentions that this method can help us process our worries and reduce stress.

How often should you do it

If you tend to wake up with a head full of worries, here's a tip from Hall: keep a notebook next to your bed and jot down those thoughts as soon as you wake up. Hall recommends worry journaling every day until you can wake up stress-free. For the big worries, the spidergram can come in handy. To manage your worries, set aside 30 minutes daily, as suggested by Hall. This gives you a chance to explore your concerns without letting them take over. Personally, I've found that journaling when I feel overwhelmed by worry works best for me. When that happens, I know it's time to reach for my notebook.

The benefits of journaling 

At times, I try to keep busy with work, parenting, chores, or anything that keeps me from dwelling on those less pleasant thoughts. It can be exhausting to bring up thoughts I'd rather keep down or answer inside my head. And honestly, I've questioned how much journaling could really make a difference. Well, it turns out it can make a big difference. A study from Penn State College of Medicine discovered that journaling was linked to reduced mental distress and increased well-being compared to the starting point. It also found that journaling led to fewer symptoms of depression and anxiety after one month, as well as increased resilience after the first and second month, compared to usual care. The study refers to previous medical research that has shown journaling can be beneficial not only for mental health but also for physical conditions like autoimmune diseases, inflammation, blood pressure, and depressive symptoms.


After giving worry journaling a try, you might go through a range of emotions. According to Fiona Hall, most people find it relieving and empowering to clear their minds and gain a fresh perspective. The idea is to distinguish between real concerns and hypothetical worries, focusing on what we can actually do something about. If you often find yourself overwhelmed by worry, Using a worry journal can be a powerful tool to help you keep it under control. In a nutshell, it's a straightforward practice that can make a big difference in managing stress and finding relief from those persistent worries.

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