A few years ago I would never have tried journaling. I assumed it was just a girly or feminine way of talking to yourself. I wasn’t about to jeopardize my masculinity so I could write some lame feelings down in a diary. What could I possibly benefit from that?
Fast forward a few years, and now I’m a huge advocate for journaling.
Because I learned how much it can help with my social anxiety.
If you know me, you know I don’t talk much. There are many people who are the same, and it’s not from a lack of intelligence or spite towards people around them. Sometimes when presented with a social situation, a surfeit of emotion overwhelms me and I lose my words. All the sudden I have no idea how to interact with the other person. It’s frustrating. What journaling does is help me articulate my communication confidently, and in a way that is appropriate and effective for whatever situation I’m in. For example, you may want to say hello to a random passerby, but be too nervous about a number of things. Am I going to say hello correctly?(this sounds silly but it’s true) Should I keep walking after the hello? Should it be a hello, or more of a hey there? These are real concerns for many people. Thankfully, I’m going to show you some tips for how journaling can help alleviate this kind of discomfort.
1. Prioritize fears and problems
Whilst writing down things about your day, don’t shy away from discussing the negatives. Some fears and problems can often times be resolved by simply thinking about them. Journaling forces you to think about the problem enough to get it down on a piece of paper. We are all dealing with multiple problems at any given time. But some of them need more attention than others. For example, the fact that I am failing a class would be more important than the stain I need to get out of my shirt. When you’ve identified an important problem — my example is failing a class, make a list of things that can help you solve that problem! My list would look something like this.
- Make more time to study
- Go in for tutoring
- Ask more questions in class
Again, you may not need to write everything down, but doing so forces your mind to work it out — and that is the goal.
2. Identify negative behaviors and promote positive ones
Sometimes in the mess of life, it is difficult to always be self-aware. Sometimes we will do things that hurt other people– and not even notice it. Writing down events from our day will help us identify negative and positive behaviors. But it doesn’t stop there. After you categorize your actions, make a point to focus on doing the positive things, and dropping the negative ones. By becoming more self-aware, you — in turn — become more confident in the actions that you do take.
Here is an example using the situation of the passerby.
You feel anxious greeting people as you guys walk by each other. In the journal, you can write something down like — ‘greeting people with a smile and a simple hello is a positive behavior’. Then as time goes on, you can make an effort to do this with everyone you pass by. This might sound odd, but eventually, you’ll get to the point where it won’t be so routine. You’ll be confident enough in your ‘social abilities’ to say whatever you want when you see a specific person. But the journal helps you identify some of these things so you can focus on them.
3. Reduce stress
This is the one you’ve probably heard of before. When I fought with my brothers, my parents would tell us to write down our feelings. Needless to say, I thought it was really dumb. The reason for this was because writing something down allows us to really think about it. Why am I feeling this way? How am I making this other person feel?
It’s sort of like self-awareness training. And it helps with social anxiety.
After realizing the issue — and writing it down — we create a stress-free mind that is able to process it with much more clarity.
If you tend to stress about many things, write them down.
All of them.
It might take a while, but you’ll quickly realize that things you once worried so intensely about now seem insignificant.
I would love to hear how these tips work for you. Let me know in the comments!