How Creative Writing Helps Manage Anxiety + How it Helped Me.

Three years ago, I found myself unable to write. As I have been writing since I was nine years old, being too tense and anxious to focus on letters terrified me. At the back of my mind sat the nagging fear: what if I can never write again?

I experienced chest pains, words dizzied in front of my eyes, and my concentration wandered. Often, I thought of nothing and could not think of anything without slipping off into empty space. Worried, I went to an urgent care facility, where the nurse unexpectedly discovered I do not wear a bra, for some answers.

I was told I was experiencing ‘normal teen anxiety’.

To be told waves of dislocating panic and hesitancy to draw a deep breath is normal is eyebrow raising. I went home knowing I needed to do something, but unsure of what that something would look like.

I keep a journal. To write about my experiences is second nature to me. I sat down and wrote about how I felt and how I wanted to feel. I wanted to do more; I wanted to share those private thoughts and personal stories. I wanted to connect with people who can connect with me.

I decided to start Nin Chronicles after I realized I needed to find a natural way to heal. To come to terms and understand my anxiety, I needed to explore where it was stemming from. I sat down a wrote a lengthy piece about my feelings, fears, and hopes for the future. I needed to share my view with the world, and I did.

I wrote passionately terrible articles that I am now revising for clarity with a smile. I wrote about everything and anything troubling me; in that torrent of pent-up emotion, my anxiety poured out and flowed away.

I still experience hints of chest pain and deep, pressing worry today when I read something devastating and the feeling of helplessness; of being able to do nothing comes back. But now I write because I can do something: I can use my voice and my words in the name of awareness. One letter at a time, I can change the world. Writing is my healing.

My mind goes back to the urgent care facility today. Normal teen anxiety? How many people, then, struggle with such deep apprehension? The answering is staggering.

Anxiety can be effectively and consciously handled and as seen in many people, be there one day and gone the next. Many people suffering from generalized anxiety disorders work at healing and heal. I believe anxiety is not for life.  

I am hopeful this advice will apply equally well to all you singers, dancers, painters, artists, and colorful creatives too, but here is how creative writing ultimately helped me overcome my anxiety and inspired me to bring more of what I am passionate about into my life.

6 Ways Writing Benefits Your Mental Health

  • Writing gives you an outlet. Having a plethora of worrying and anxiety-driven thoughts occupying your mind and heart is not healthy and, when you are so full of negativity, there is little room for positive action to find room to grow. By expressing yourself in words, you give your emotions another place to go. When put down in ink, I find crushing thoughts and feelings become less daunting and more manageable. Suddenly planning a path forward is doable instead of impossible.
  • Writing helps you find community. If you decide to share your creative writing, life experiences, and thoughts, you will connect with like-minded people. Community is a wonderful place to not only find support; you can also learn from people who are going through or have gone through similar experiences to yours.
  • Writing helps you know yourself better. Looking at yourself in words is often a great way to see how you have grown over the years and see yourself more objectively as you are now, especially if you are honest in your journal writing. When you have anxiety, knowing yourself well can often help you pinpoint why you feel anxious. In looking over my journals from the past eight years, I watch myself grow and learn from my life’s experiences. In reading the stories I wrote over the past ten years, I notice how my style and voice has changed and how the themes and morals I always sought to share in my writing have also evolved or changed shape.
  • Writing helps you find confidence in yourself. If you journal or write creatively, looking back on the excellent pieces of poetry and short stories you have penned, as well as the hard decisions you have made, it is impossible not to walk away with the knowledge you are a capable person with many skills and talents. This assurance is healing to one’s self-esteem.

Related: The Writer’s Guide to Learning From & Handling Literary Rejection

  • Writing helps you find acceptance. Not everything needs to be a battle, but it is tough to accept something you do not want. I find that, by writing short stories and poems about fictional characters making the decisions I cannot make yet, I am able to find acceptance more peacefully because I have already done it in writing.
    • Pro Tip: Writing about fictional characters making decisions you are struggling with is a handy way to look at your situation objectively and through different eyes! Multiple perspectives, even if they all ultimately stem from you, may help you find the path for you more clearly.
  • Writing helps you help other people. If you decide to share a piece about what helped you find your definition of happiness, chances are you might be giving a fellow person a hand up out of their rut.

Finally, if you are struggling with mental health, anxiety, or depression and nothing you are doing is assisting you, consider reaching out for profession help! Sometimes it is what you need and there is no shame or weakness in it.

So, whether you write privately or publicly, in a journal or on a blog, try weaving your experiences, dreams, and passions into your writing.  It may help write away some or, over time, all your anxiety.

How do you manage the bumps in your life? Does creativity help you express yourself or help you get to know yourself better? Tell me below!

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74 thoughts on “How Creative Writing Helps Manage Anxiety + How it Helped Me.

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  1. I was looking for some good reads and I am happy to have found yours. Writing got me through terrible trauma and I walked away from it when things got bad. I should have kept going. But in all reality, facing my demons head-on allowed me to return to write again. Starting with journaling and hoping to lean towards creative when the time is right.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I can completely relate to your article, thank you for writing such a thoughtful testament to writing as healing anxiety. I began my blog when I separated from my husband and we were going through our divorce. The trauma I experienced had no outlet and the anxiety and panic attacks I experienced came to a slow as i started writing about the events. I began to heal. Thank you. Very helpful, I hope someone else in need finds this article and decides to take the plunge into writing, even if its old fashioned paper and pen. Writing heals! 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I love writing by hand; I find the release of words in ink so helpful and connectable. Thank you for sharing the amazing ways writing has helped heal your sadness and find your strength in recovery! ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I definitely relate to all of this… For a long time I stopped writing… And it coincided with an event in my life that I could never find the words to express… (which is entirely unusual for me)… I tried so many things along the way to reignite that flame inside me but finally what finally got my mojo going again was during the pandemic and realizing how short life can be and the unexpected turns it can take… 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Writing in a journal is what saved me in childhood, so I’m 110% in agreement with you on how helpful writing is for managing stress, anxiety, and a number of things. It’s always been a healing thing for me and love hearing that it is for others as well.

    I’m horrible at writing fiction, but I do really like your idea of writing a character making a decision to help with my own decision making. That’s an interesting thought!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Wow, I love this post, Jaya! Although writing is not my choice of outlet, I love anything creative. Painting is one that I feel heals me and relaxes me. Since starting my blog, I understand what you mean by having more confidence! Thanks for sharing x

    Lynn | https://www.lynnmumbingmejia.com

    Liked by 3 people

  6. This is beautiful and I completely agree with you. Writing helped ease my anxiety. First it was in my journal and now on my blog. It helped ease my mind and I’m now not as panic stricken as i used to before. Journaling is that one thing i would always recommend. And sometimes when i look at some of my old entries, I can’t help but smile and cry at how much I’ve grown.

    Liked by 4 people

  7. I experience depression and anxiety on a regular basis. Sometimes so much that I forget how much life is good. I view writing as a way out. It’s so amazing that through writing I can find hidden gems that I would never find otherwise. Great post. You’re doing really good.

    Liked by 4 people

  8. Jaya, this was such a beautiful post to read! Thank you for sharing your experience. I love how you mentioned about writing and confidence – it’s not an easy task to put oneself out there. Through writing, I’ve learned a lot about myself but also from others and the blogging community is truly so supportive. Love this! x

    Liked by 4 people

  9. You have inspired me to write more when I have trouble to sort out my mind. It’s been a while since I did that and your words encouraged me to try again. Thanks!

    Liked by 3 people

  10. What an insightful post! I’m happy to see that you’ve found something that provides you with healing and empowerment. I find it quite fascinating how many writers suffer from anxiety and depression. Thank you for sharing.

    Liked by 4 people

  11. It’s an encouraging piece to motivate one to write and keep on writing. The way you have found solace, peace, and acceptance of your inner self through writing is remarkable. I started my blog to share my experience and knowledge with as many people as possible, and you are right; the writing community is very supportive, and you feel a connection to them. I started enjoying my articles, short stories, and especially the ones my kid has written:)

    Jaya, you are a prolific writer because you feel content and untethered at the same time. xx

    Liked by 4 people

    1. ” . . . Content and untethered at the same time . . .”
      What lovely words and I am touched to be what they describe. Thank you for sharing the ways writing has helped you connect and enjoy life. ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I love to write too to help me mentaly. I find it really helps me process my feelings and articulate them. It’s especially good for me when I need to express them to someone else so I can try to explain accurately what I am thinking and feeling without it coming out all a bit all over the place!

    Corinne x

    Liked by 4 people

  13. “Writing helps you help other people”
    Last bur not least. Or better, this is definitely the point reaching my heart as first.
    Teen anxiety?!
    Well I am not teen from soooooo long but I still haven’t managed to deal with my anxiety, that’s why your words are helping me so much.
    In this case, but also every single time I have the luck to read your Words, because every lapse, very moment, every atmosphere you create is like a sort of hook in the sky bringing me away from everyday sadness.
    So the last point is perfectly YOU.

    Liked by 4 people

  14. Thank you for sharing this wonderful post Jaya! I can definitely relate to what you’ve said here. I took up journaling as a way to deal with stress in high school and continued throughout university since it proved to be such an effective way to relieve anxiety.

    Liked by 5 people

  15. A very lovely post, Jaya. I too, to write to help my stress level to stay in control.. Lol. I feel so relaxed after writing.. I can’t even explain that feeling. Stay blessed! ❤️🌹🙏

    Liked by 3 people

  16. Thank you for this honest share about your struggles with anxiety Jaya. Writing is a great healer, and together we can join voices and help to fix a broken planet 🙏

    Liked by 4 people

  17. A lovely post, Jaya. Though I didn’t start blogging with the intention of creating a space to work through my own anxiety; I do find great release in the creative process, especially when it comes to writing poetry. An absolute wonder for getting out of our heads those anxieties, dreams, issues, etc. Great advice!

    Liked by 4 people

  18. Normal teen anxiety? It annoys me how the medical system can be so dismissive of mental health issues.

    Writing, or any other form of creative expression, is a great way to deal with anxiety. I am a singer but, because of the pandemic, I’m not singing much right now. I’m so grateful to have my blog as a creative outlet and I’m also grateful for the wonderful people like you that I’ve connected with through blogging.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Jaya!

    Liked by 4 people

  19. Exactly how I felt about drawing when I was in my final year at architecture school. It took me more than six months and some therapy to overcome that anxiety which was really the fear of disappointing my father if I did not do well. Only when I finally put aside that fear, as in I told myself what will be, will be … I was able to draw and got a good degree. I told myself after that to create for creating’s sake and not for other people.

    Liked by 5 people

  20. A superb article Jaya, honest and informative, and after my strokes, I think rediscovering writing has definitely been my comfort pillow through my years of trials and tribulations …

    Liked by 4 people

  21. Such a brilliant and helpful article, I started blogging in the hope that it could help with paying off my debts but I soon discovered how much it helped with my depression, anxiety and boredom. I still have the debts 😂 but it has helped so much with my mindset. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 3 people

  22. This was a realy interesting post, Jaya. I think those of us who kept or keep diaries and those if us who blog will know exactly what you mean. The act of writing helps us in so many ways, but if we can help others too, that’s a bonus.

    Liked by 4 people

  23. I really resonate with a lot of what you’ve said. I find writing helps me when I feel my anxiety flaring, I have high functioning and social anxiety so I get drained quite a lot from being around people or not doing enough, but also doing too much. Having a blog has helped me harness some more control as it’s a place to escape when I need to, it helps me stay busy but also shut away for a while to built myself back up. I am so shocked that you were told that it was normal to anxiety, nothing about it should be normal! Especially for teens and children. I’m sure your writing will help a lot of people not feel so alone and will be able to connect with your words.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. Thank you so much, Jordanne, for sharing how writing helps you focus and balance yourself! I was relieved it was anxiety instead of something potentially more physical, but also dismayed at the dismissive manner with which I was informed. Writing is definitely my form of medicine now. 🙂

      Like

  24. Doing this blog really helped me with my anxiety and ADHD. I connected with such awesome writers and artists in all on here. My anxiety and ADHD still puts forks in my road but blogging, photography and writing help a lot. I’ve also found that singing helps so much too. I love music. Sometimes I’ll just blast songs on my way to work and sing falling into another world with the voice in my speakers. It’s an awesome feeling. One of my favorite things to do is drawing. Drawing is a great escape. I want to do it more. I’m trying to make more time to write and draw more. Luckily I am still active with photography. I use my phone more though as my laptop turns my jpeg files into blank white cubes…. Yeah something is wrong with my laptop haha. Using my phone is safer for my photos lately ha

    Liked by 6 people

    1. I love that you have found creative ways to express yourself, Brittny, that are also positively affecting your mental health! Photography and drawing are both so much fun, and I relate to relaxing into the sound of sing-along tunes.
      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

      Liked by 1 person

  25. In some way I can relate, I stopped writing for over 10 years, struggling with abandonment issues. Realizing that I was abandoning myself (if that makes sense) who I truly couldn’t afford to lose. I soon found that writing help me find that person again, that I thought was gone. Whatever outlet helps you as FN stated above, I’ll add
    •gardening
    •photography
    •birdwatching
    I loved this post, Jaya, we all struggle with our own issues, there is no shame in that.
    🙏🏼💙🤗☀️🌻

    Liked by 3 people

  26. “I wrote passionately terrible articles that I am now revising for clarity with a smile.” I can definitely relate to this! There’s something so charming (yet, admittedly, cringey) about reading old posts and bringing them into your current style of writing. I loved learning about your own experience with writing and anxiety, and some of the ways that writing can really benefit you. x

    https://www.femaleoriginal.com

    Liked by 4 people

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