in Personal, Productivity

Writing: A Weapon to Fight Stress and Fear

cloudOur thoughts are irrational.

For whatever reason, our mind takes us to places that no rational person should go. Yet even the most level-headed people find their emotions being driven by their thoughts.

I, for example, tend to have an irrational fear of failure.

It’s something that’s occasionally looming in the back of my mind, like a dark cloud. It wasn’t until a friend recommended that I truly address that thought that I realized how absurd it was. He asked me to focus on that fear of failure and ask myself “whats my best worst case scenario“.

I learned that failure wouldn’t be that bad.

The problem is if you don’t address your thoughts, they remain irrational and they continue to exist, affecting your emotions. We’re so caught up in constantly moving through the motions of our day that we forget to pause and look inward.

The trick is to get it out of your head and address it.

Make it a tangible thing, there in front of you, instead of something looming around in your mind somewhere.

When you can make it tangible, then you can address it rationally.


Write it down.

Say it out loud.

Go ahead and try it now.  Close your eyes and notice how you’re feeling.  Then start writing.

First, describe how you’re feeling.

I’m stressed, worried, nervous, etc…

Then, ask why?

I don’t want to lose my job. My friends are going to laugh at me. I don’t want to fail.

Then address it for what it is.

What would happen if I did lose my job? If my friends laughed at me? If I failed. 

You’ll likely feel better already just by coming to terms with your feelings.

I’m worried about my job but that’s okay, I know why. Or: I might fail, but it wouldn’t be all that bad, I could pursue my dream of working on a ranch!

Take it a step further and start writing regularly. Write just to reflect. You might notice thoughts that you didn’t even realize were there (those are the scariest ones).

Your brain can be an excellent problem solver but only when it sees problems in their true light.

Get it out of your head.


Thanks to Ben Paviour for inspiring this post. 

Photo cred: Hartwig HKD

  • alexshye

    Agreed! i’ve done this before, and then tossed the sheet of paper afterwards. Sometimes, it helps to get things out of your head and concretely write them down on paper.