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Journaling to Challenge Anxious Thoughts

The goal of this process is to get your worries on paper so you can break the cycle of rumination, challenge those thoughts, and come up with ways to address them. Here's how to start:

Write Your Worries

Start by journaling for five to 15 minutes, and write about whatever is on your mind. Keep going until you feel you have written what needs to be said but haven’t delved into rumination. Write about what is happening right now and make a note that what is really stressful for you is the possibility of what could happen next. This realization might bring stress relief in itself!

Reread and Re-Think

As you review what you've written and reflect on your concerns, explore your options. Could things be different? Is there something that you could do to change your circumstances right now—or to change your thoughts about your circumstances?

Think Differently

For each fear or concern you have, try to write at least one way (but preferably more) in which you could think about it differently. Generate a new story for yourself, even a new set of possibilities. Write these next to the fears that are in your head right now.

Recall Your Strengths

Think about the biggest challenges you’ve faced and overcome. Looking at your strongest, wisest moments, do you think you could use that same strength and wisdom to prevail in this potential challenge as well?

Here are 31 journaling prompts to help get you or your students started with writing:

1.       What do you want to be when you grow up? Why?

2.       What are five things you would like to do before you are 20 years old?

3.       What is your dream job? Describe a typical work day at this job.

4.       What do you think your life will be like when you are 30 years old?

5.       What are the three most important jobs in the world? Why are they so important?

6.       Would you want to be the president? Why or why not?

7.       Would you rather be a famous writer, a rock star, or a doctor. Why?

8.       What are the most important qualities in a friend? Are you a good friend?

9.       Is it ever okay to lie? Why do you think so?

10.   What are three things that every parent should do? Why are these things important?

11.   It has been said that money can’t buy happiness. Do you agree or disagree? Why?

12.   Would you rather be beautiful, smart, or athletic? Why?

13.   Describe a real made-up dream or nightmare.

14.   Write about your favorite childhood toy.

15.   Write out the best or the worst day of your life.

16.   Finish this thought: if I could change one thing about myself...

17.   If and when I raise children, I'll never...

18.   I have never been more frightened than when...

19.   Persuade a friend to give up drugs.

20.   Five years from now, I will be...

21.   Write about a day you'd like to forget.

22.   Invent and describe a new food.

23.   Describe an event that changed your life forever, or make up and describe an event that would change your life forever.

24.   Describe someone who is a hero to you and explain why.

25.   Write about a time in your life when you struggled with a choice and made the right one.

26.   Imagine yourself in a different century and describe an average day in your life.

27.   Which character from a book would you most like to meet and why?

28.   Three goals I have set for myself are...

29.   List the top 5 people you admire, and why.

30.   Who is your favorite person in the world and why?

31.   What is your favorite song/musical piece and why?


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