Journal Prompts for Anxiety and Worry: Writing Productively
This post is includes 30 journal prompts for anxiety. The goal of these prompts is to help you learn something about your worry and how it impacts you, not just to write your worries down on paper.
In my first session with clients, I talk quite a bit about the importance of making consistent, daily time for therapy homework. Particularly for CBT, the practice of new skills and strategies is key to making progress. Anecdotally, when I see people in therapy who are stuck, it’s almost always because they aren’t able to make time every day for therapy work.
Setting up a daily time to journal can be a great place to start. Below you’ll find some CBT inspired prompts for anxiety to think more objectively and proactively about your worry
CBT Inspired Journal Prompts for Anxiety
1. Increasing awareness of your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors is foundational to making changes. Without knowing what’s happening, it’s hard to know when and where to do something differently. What are some early warning signs that you’re feeling anxious? Where do you experience anxiety in your body? What other signs do you notice (sleep trouble, irritability, difficulty concentrating, etc.)?
2. What factors about your work or school trigger your anxiety?
3. What factors about romantic relationships trigger your worry?
4. Have you been a worrier all your life or has your worry developed more recently?
5. In what ways do you think your worry is productive? How can you tell the difference between “productive” worry and “unproductive worry?”
6. Some people think that worry is an attempt to control the environment. How do you think your worry is related to your sense of control?
7. Is it hard for you to deal with uncertainty? Why or why not?
8. Do you have any positive beliefs about worry? What evidence do you have to challenge those beliefs?
9. What does worry mean to you? If an alien came down from outer space, how would you describe it?
10. What benefits would you experience if you were able to worry less?
11. Is any part of you concerned that you might miss out on something if you worried less?
12. Do you believe that worry helps you solve problems? If yes, what are some alternatives?
13. Some people believe that worrying about a negative outcome will help to prepare them if something bad does happen. Does this apply to you? Why or why not? If yes, is there any evidence against that belief?
14. Worry can sometimes seem superstitious. For example, you might think that if you don’t worry about a bad thing happening it will be more likely to come true. Does that resonate with you? Why or why not?
15. People sometimes think that if they gave up their worrying, they wouldn’t get things done. Does this apply to you? Why or why not? Are there other ways you could motivate yourself to accomplish things without worry?
16. How do you think worry is different from problem solving? How can you shift worry into problem solving?
17. Using the Five Senses: Describe five things you smell that are relaxing to you. How can you experience these more often?
18. Using the Five Senses: Describe five things you see that are relaxing to you (movies, art work, nature, photo of loved one, etc.).
19. Using the Five Senses: Describe five things that use the sense of touch that are soothing for you. How can you do these more often?
20. Using the Five Senses: Describe five sounds (music, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.) that are relaxing for you. How often do you listen to these?
21. Using the Five Senses: Describe five things you taste that are calming for you. Do you keep these around the house or with you on the go?
22. Identify three things that interrupt your worry cycles. Describe them in detail.
23. Identify three things that make your worry last longer than you want it to. What could you do instead?
24. Does anyone else in your family worry? Were you around worriers when you were growing up as a kid? What do you think you learned about worry when you were young?
25. Research shows that 85% of worries don’t come true. Think about major worries you had over the last week. List them. How many of those worries came true?
26. Worry is repetitive negative thinking about the future. Rumination is repetitive negative thinking about the past. Do you tend to worry more or ruminate more? Why do you think that is?
27. As humans, we tend to repeat behaviors that benefit us in the short term. Worry is the same way (even though it might feel uncomfortable). What short-term benefits do you think you might get from your worry?
28. Identify a current worry you have. List three actions you can take to address the worry head on.
29. Do you ever think that by imagining or expecting good things to happen you might be “jinxing” yourself or making it less likely? If yes, examine some evidence against that thought.
30. Sometimes we worry about our worry. This can make things even worse! For example, you might be concerned that worry will make you go crazy or do permanent damage to your body. Do you ever worry about your worry? If yes, do you have any evidence against these worries?
Once you’ve worked through these, you may be looking for more! Our friends over at Urban Wellness also have a great list of 30 journal prompts that will keep you focused for another month.
If you’d like some help with your anxiety, feel free to reach out to us via our contact form. https://anxietyspecialistsofstl.com/contact/