The rollercoaster of emotions that come with life can be difficult to manage. It’s completely normal if you feel out of control with thoughts that cause you fear and anxiety.
While you can’t always stop your thoughts, you can learn to control them, sort of like herding a flock of sheep. I’ve found the best way to do this is by writing them down in a journal (or even on the notes app on your phone). Being able to express your thoughts with reckless abandon is cathartic. It’s a place to process where no one is going to interrupt you, get bored of you, or judge you.
Even if you’ve never journaled before, there is no better time to start than now. Although you might feel like you’re at war with your own mind most of the time, you might be surprised to discover how you really feel about something, or how the answer to a problem is write (haha, pun intended) in front of you.
Here are some prompts to help you get started:
- How are you feeling at this exact moment? Angry? Anxious? Nostalgic? Stuck?
- What feels especially heavy today?
- What is something you’re looking forward to today? This week? This month?
- How have you been neglecting to take care of yourself?
- What can you forgive yourself for? What would it feel like to forgive yourself?
- What negative thought do you keep returning to? What is keeping you from letting that thought go?
- If you kept living the way you are now, what would your life look like in a year? 5 years?
- What’s one thing you can do today to get yourself out of your comfort zone?
- Describe your perfect day in as much detail as you can, from the moment you wake up to the moment you go to bed.
- What could you use more of in your life? Less of?
If you’re feeling especially overwhelmed and need something more practical, try writing down the 5 most important tasks you need to accomplish that day. Is it taking care of your kids? Sending that one email? Getting your nails done? Doing this will keep your mind from pulling you in a million different directions because you only have to focus on accomplishing your 5 tasks.
A final word on thoughts: put them all on trial. When negative thoughts arise, and everything feels doom and gloom, ask yourself: is this thought true? Is this thought helpful? If not, replace it with something positive.