Is the news making you anxious? Do you dread logging into social media for fear of what new political disaster you’ll read about? Are you seriously concerned for the safety of yourself and others?
It’s no wonder you’re feeling overwhelmed. We live in an age of unprecedented access to information with volatile political climate and there are millions of causes needing your help. But how do you sort through it all and figure out where to put your energy? How do you go from overwhelming anxiety to constructive action?
The answer: journaling.
Here are four ways journaling can help you handle politics and the news – and techniques you can use right now to manage anxiety and overwhelm.
Separate what others are telling you from what you truly believe.
Fake news is rampant and everywhere you look people are pushing their agenda. Journaling is a great way to step away from what everyone else is telling you and figure out what you actually believe.
Try this: Write the name of a hot button topic or person in the middle of a piece of paper. Around that name, write everything you think about it/them. When you’ve made an exhaustive list, circle the things that are based on solid facts and/or experiences that you’ve personally had. Cross off anything that cannot be proven or is just hearsay.
Going forward, you can focus on the items that you circled and discard the items you crossed off your list.
Prioritizing where your energy should go.
It would be amazing if you could help every cause that comes across your radar, but the truth is you can’t help anything if you try to help everything. Journaling can help you focus your energy where it matters the most, both politically and personally.
Try this: Make three rows on a piece of paper and title them “need,” “want,” and “can’t.” Under need, write down all the things that absolutely have to be done in your life. Under want, put the things that you would like to do. Under can’t, write the things that aren’t possible for you to do right now. This doesn’t mean you won’t ever get to those things, it’s just not something that can happen now.
Keep your need, want, and can’t list close by when deciding what to prioritize in your life.
Activist tip: prioritize organizations and causes that center those most marginalized by society, like trans women of color and immigrants.
Using your journal as therapy so you can keep going.
When your rights are being attacked and you fear for your safety, survival is sometimes enough. A journal is no substitute for professional help, but it can be a great supplement to your sessions. It is a place to let go and process your past trauma, present issues, and future fears, and daily journaling is more portable, timely, and cost-efficient than booking a therapy session every day.
Try this: use your journal as a supplement to professional therapy sessions. Ask your therapist for writing assignments and have them help you process what comes out during your journaling.
Organizing your thoughts to make your voice stronger.
It’s hard to stand up for yourself and others when your thoughts are scattered and running wild around your brain. Journaling is a wonderful way of getting your thoughts out of your head and onto paper where you can better organize them.
Try this: set an alarm for 30 minutes and spew everything you’re feeling out into a journal. When the alarm goes off, set it for another 30 minutes and use that time to try to organize the thoughts you just had.
Need help finding that hour to write? Check out my free Finding Your Write Space course.
The next time you’re feeling overwhelmed with the state of the world, grab your journal and let it help you process your opinions, organize your thoughts, and reclaim your voice. Then get out there and keep fighting the good fight. I’ve got your back.