Clear Your Thoughts, Boost Your Mood: How Writing Down Worries Can Help Your Mental Health

Worries and a mental health worry journal

Some people keep a gratitude journal, and that’s a smart practice.  Even on your worst day, just 10 minutes to jot down your blessings can help you shift your perspective and learn to value the little things. It’s a potent method to remind yourself of your blessings and all that you have to be grateful for. But there are also benefits to keeping a worry journal. But first, you must know what one is.

If It Worries You, Write It Down

A worry journal is a journal or book in which you write down all the things you’re worried about. It’s a repository for your thoughts.  That might sound counterintuitive – why would you want to remind yourself of your worries? But there are sound reasons for doing so. Getting them down on paper purges them from your brain and weakens their power over you.

Writing in a worry journal can help you identify and deal with the root causes of stress. It’s a place where you document your thoughts, emotions, and the little and big stressors that cause you to worry and a safe space where you can write down all your concerns and fears and release those bottled-up emotions without judgment.

The purpose of a worry journal isn’t just to find a solution to your problems, but to help you process and accept them. By writing down your worries, you can gain perspective and begin to understand them better. Over time, you may even start to notice patterns in your worries and understand the root causes.

When to Write in Your Worry Journal

When should you write in your journal? If you have sleep problems, the best time to take pen to paper is at bedtime, before you turn the light off and drift off to sleep. The reason? Writing your worries down gets them out of your mind and onto paper. When they’re on paper, you’re less likely to replay them over and over in your mind as you’re trying to fall asleep.

Journaling your worries is a catharsis and a brain dump. You empty your mind of worries, so you can put them aside and get much-needed rest. It takes energy to hold on to those feelings, and your body must work harder to keep them from spilling over into your life. When they do, they interfere with sleep and happiness and lead to repressed emotions and anxiety. Giving them a home in your journal lets your body relax, because it no longer must keep those worrisome thoughts in your consciousness.

A Worry Journal Can Make You Happier and More Productivity

Releasing those feelings creates calm, but it can also make you more productive. How? By releasing space in your brain for more productive thoughts and ideas. Worries take up a lot of real estate in the brain. It’s best to get the less desirable real estate out in the open, so you can make room for more productive thoughts and ideas.

Getting your worries down on paper also helps you view them in a new light. You might discover a new insight or find that what you’re worried about isn’t as bad as you thought. Getting those negative thoughts and worries on paper puts your thoughts in perspective. What seemed formidable when confined to your mind looks less daunting on paper.

Keep That Worry Journal on Your Nightstand

The best place to place your worry journal is on your nightstand. There, it will serve as a gentle reminder to keep writing down your thoughts and worries before turning in. You can also jot something down in the middle of the night with your worry journal so close by, even your dreams. You know how hard it is to remember the details of your dreams in the morning.

Keep a portable worry journal too.  You’ll find things that bother you during the day that you’ll want to write down. Make it painless by carrying along a second journal. You might be tempted to use an app to document your worries, but a physical journal is better. The simple act of writing, putting pen to paper, is therapeutic.

If you enjoy expressive writing, give it a try too. This approach involves writing about personal experiences, feelings, and thoughts with the goal of gaining insight and understanding into one’s own mind. You can do it in a variety of formats, such as journaling, poetry, or creative writing.

Does it work? One study found that people who did 5 minutes of expressive writing daily felt less stressed out and less reactive to negative situations. Writing is a way to release emotions safely. The worst thing you can do is lock your worries and fears inside you and not let them see the light of day.  When we bottle up our emotions, it can create an overwhelming sense of anxiety and stress and makes worries seem even bigger and more foreboding than they really are.

The Bottom Line

Writing in a worry journal is an excellent way to free your mind of things that worry you and keep you awake at night. By writing them down, your subconscious mind will start working on solving those problems at a level you aren’t aware of. Keep writing and journaling, and you’ll free up your mind and enjoy better mental health. Plus, if you journal in the evening, you may discover it helps you get a better night’s sleep. Give it a try!


  • “Writing about worries eases anxiety and improves test ….” 13 Jan. 2011, https://news.uchicago.edu/story/writing-about-worries-eases-anxiety-and-improves-test-performance.
  • “New study says that writing can help you stop worrying.” 16 Sept. 2017, pulseheadlines.com/study-writing-stop-worrying/67140/.
  • “Write your anxieties away – Harvard Health.” 13 Oct. 2017, health.harvard.edu/blog/write-your-anxieties-away-2017101312551.
  • “Mental Health Benefits of Journaling – WebMD.” https://www.webmd.com/mental-health/mental-health-benefits-of-journaling.
  • “Discover 8 Journaling Techniques for Better Mental Health.” 23 Jan. 2020, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/here-there-and-everywhere/202001/discover-8-journaling-techniques-better-mental-health.
  • “Journaling for Mental Health – Health Encyclopedia – University of ….” https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentID=4552&ContentTypeID=1.

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