Awake at Night?

A few nights ago, I woke up at 3 am and could not go back to sleep. My thoughts were constant and filled with ruminating fear over a future event. Luckily I have some tools that work for me to stop that process and I was able to get back to sleep.

One of the most effective stress management tools can quite literally at the tip of your fingers – journaling. This type of writing helps organize your thoughts and process them in a healthy manner.

Studies have also shown that writing about how a person feels has the potential to ease anxiety in people who have suffered from traumatic events.

2018 research study found that people who journaled had a reduction in symptoms of anxiety. That’s because the process of writing can release pent-up feelings and negative thoughts, which helps to quiet the mind.

Your mind and body are constantly communicating, so journaling benefits your emotional health as it helps regulate emotions. In addition, journaling can help prioritize concerns, so you can recognize triggers and negative thought patterns.

Journaling also helps people find solutions to problems they have, as well as accept and learn to let go of things beyond their control.

New to journaling? Not sure where to begin or tired of what you have been doing with journaling? Try one of these prompts below.


1. What was a difficult experience you have had, and how did you overcome it?

Recalling challenging times makes us see how far you have come, and might just inspire gratitude for all that has happened.


2. List three things that scare you, and WHY.

Facing the things that scare us lessens their power to make us anxious.
3. Recall three positives that happened today and write about them. Be as detailed as possible.

This technique improves mood and motivation.


4. Reply to your inner critic’s opinions about your actions and decisions.

If it’s calling your attention to all the wrong things you’ve done, this is the time to focus on the right things you’ve accomplished, and to dismiss your inner critic’s opinions.


5. Describe how you feel – right now – in writing.

Do you like how you’re feeling right now? If not, how would you like to feel? What can you do to change how you’re feeling?


6. List all the things that you’re worried about right now. 

Putting all your worries out into the open prevents them from occupying space in your head. I call this a rumination journal.
7. Write a letter to three of your greatest supporters.

Think of the people who support you. Choose three of them. Then write a letter to each one detailing the ways they support you and telling them how much you appreciate them. You don’t have to mail the letters!


8. What are three things you’d love to do for the rest of your life?

Writing down the things you’d love to do even without receiving any compensation for them will help you reconnect with your passions.


9. Make a list of compliments you’ve received from others.

Writing down the compliments you’ve gotten from others helps boost confidence and gives hope.


10.  Describe five moments in your life when you were truly happy.

A study showed that people—especially teenagers—who recall happy memories are more resilient and less prone to depression.


11. Think of moments when you experienced failure. What lessons can you take?

Failure is necessary. It is considered the greatest teacher we’ll have in this life. Without it, we will be incapable of reaching for greater achievements.


12. Write a love letter to yourself.

Discover how uniquely wonderful you are as you write about the admirable qualities you have.
13. Write strategies used in the past that helped you cope with a flare up of anxiety.

This will help you realize that you’ve always managed to survive, and will give you hope to overcome the condition.


14. Perhaps your anxiety is trying to tell you something. What is it?

Taking a closer look at your anxiety helps you discover the underlying reasons for your anxious thoughts, and hopefully motivates you to deal with them in a healthy way.


15. List at least 10 activities you can do to take care of yourself.

This is an action plan to help you remember that you (your health and well-being) are important.


16. List your anxiety triggers.

Knowing your triggers can help lessen the effect of symptoms during a flare up, or completely prevent them.


17. List  the questions that are constantly running through your head right now, and then try to answer each one.

The brain cannot engage in other thoughts while you’re trying to think of answers to questions you’ve posed for yourself. It’s a way to stop your tendency for rumination.


18. List all of the things for which you are grateful.

Practicing gratitude increases happiness and makes you healthier, both in mind and body.


19. What do you need to release? Instead of focusing there, write your reasons for holding on.

Recognizing that you are clinging to memories—especially painful ones—gives the opportunity to let them go to see how they are holding you back or causing anxiety.


20. Visualize freedom from anxiety. Write down the details of this life.

When you envision a life that’s different from what you have right now, your whole being works toward achieving it.
21. List 10 – or more – things that make you smile.

Recalling things that bring joy to us lifts our moods and changes our outlook.
22. List three affirmations, or words, you can say to yourself today.

Positive affirmations can build our sense of self-worth and rewire our negative thinking, changing it to something positive.



It might be a challenge to live with anxiety, however, it doesn’t have to be bleak. Anxiety can be overcome.

One way to overcome anxiety is to journal – and there are many others as well. There are many other ways like breath work, physical movement, and more.

Keep in mind that if your feelings of anxiety overwhelmingly affect your quality of life, you may want to seek professional help.

Reach Out


I work with mid-life men and women who want to feel younger through improving their relationship to food, movement and mindfulness.

You may also like