You feel like you’re going to explode. You’re frustrated, you’re sad, you’re anxious. There’s so much going on inside your head that you can’t stand to sit there with your thoughts racing anymore.

Pick up a pen and paper and write. There doesn’t need to be any structure to it, you can simply write words or phrases, you can draw a picture, you can scribble out your anger until your pen rips a hole through the paper. But whatever you do, don’t sit there and let your thoughts take over. Ruminating in your thoughts not only makes you feel worse, but it also is not a proactive measure in solving whatever problems you may be facing. Whenever I feel overwhelmed, I take to my journal and let my thoughts spill over onto the page and out of my head.

The act of writing is cathartic. It allows you to process your thoughts and view them with more clarity. It is also a  way to tangibly place your thoughts in another space where they can be distanced from you and your identity. After all, you are not your thoughts. You are more than your thoughts. And while you cannot control what you think or feel, you can control your reaction to these things. Writing things down is the first step in generating a more wholesome awareness of your mind.

If you’re not sure how to start writing, keep some of these tips in mind:

  • How do you feel right now? Check in with your body. Write down your physical sensations as well as your emotional ones.
  • Write down your craziest thought. Then write down how likely it is that your thought will be made true. Try and rationalize what’s going on inside your head so that you are no longer scared of it.
  • Sometimes thinking more about your thoughts ends up in a vicious cycle. If you just want to turn your brain off, write about the last time you felt completely content. Describe it in detail - where you were, what you were doing, who you were with. This will give you hope that you can have this feeling again no matter what you may be feeling now.
  • Write a letter to yourself. Sometimes we just need a little self-compassion to help us get through. And if you’re anything like me, you’re great at giving advice but terrible at taking your own. So, write to yourself as if you were writing to a friend, outlining the next steps you should take.
  • What is going well in your life right now? I know, it sounds cheesy but it’s a good way to get the good vibes back.

Take it from someone who tends to overthink a lot, finding ways to express the overwhelming feelings you’re experiencing, whether that’s talking to someone else or writing to yourself,  is the best way to go. It’s like your own personal book where you can store whatever you want and not be worried about how you come off or who is listening. It’s just a place for you to be you.

A good habit to get into is to journal even when you’re not in a crisis. Journaling when you’re happy and content can be an enjoyable activity for you and will better incorporate the benefits of journaling into your life. It’s nice to write down the good things that happen to you because then you’re not giving all the importance to the bad things – it creates a more balanced representation of your life, one where you recognize both the good and bad and know that both will come and go. And that, regardless, you will be okay.