5 Reasons to Journal When Feeling Anxious

Jun 20, 2017 by

5 Reasons to Journal When Feeling Anxious

“I don’t journal. I really don’t have time. Besides, it’s not my thing,” said Carla. I had heard this from clients before, so I wasn’t surprised she didn’t see the value in journaling.

Carla, like many of my clients, was caught up in negative anxious thoughts that kept her from being able to focus or to have peace and joy.

Her anxious brain kept her going at a frantic pace while also never accomplishing anything significant.

I spent the next few minutes explaining to her why it’s so powerful to journal when feeling anxious.

Reason #1

One of the toughest, yet also important, elements of journaling is that it slows you down.

When you’re stuck in anxiety, your thoughts race from one bad scenario to another. Or, your mind spins ‘round and ‘round trying to escape overwhelm, without being able to break free.

Journaling forces you to stop the treadmill, or at least slow it down to a manageable pace.

When your brain is in a frantic mode, it’s pretty difficult to think clearly or productively. This is because you’re basically in a fight, flee, or freeze zone.

Your heart is pumping blood to your muscles to take action, while the cognitive part of your brain is left to get attention later.

High anxiety tells your body, it’s time to move, not time to think!

Freeze is similar, but your heart minimizes its impact, thereby also diminishing the blood flow to the thinking parts of your brain. When you’re in the freeze zone, your heart is saying it’s time to take cover, not stand around and think.

Journaling forces you to stop and take a breath.

Reason #2

Which brings us to the second benefit of journaling for anxiety — it helps you focus.

When you’ve slowed your body down and taken some slower, calmer, even deeper breaths, you signal to your body danger has passed and you can resume mental activities.

Now, you can think, instead of your mind racing here and there.

You can now focus on what your actual thoughts are.

Reason #3

With your “thinking cap” on, you will now be able to get clarity.

Whether it’s free flow or structured writing, journaling helps you disentangle all the thoughts twisted up in your mind.

Writing requires a certain level of thinking that isn’t present when the words are trapped in your head.

It’s also powerful seeing your words in print.

Somehow, seeing your thoughts on paper shines a light on what has really been running around in your mind.

Reason #4

Once you can see your thoughts, you will automatically feel a level of peace.

It’s as though someone finally hears you and understands.

And, they do — it’s you.

You can now comprehend all that’s going on in your head. You may even say something like, “Well, no wonder I feel so overwhelmed today!”

Reason #5

Journaling empowers you for action.

Once you see your feelings and thoughts written out on paper, you understand them better and can even begin to figure out what you need.

This is powerful.

When anxious thoughts are trapped in your head, you remain stuck, not knowing what to do or where to go next.

When you lay them out and create some order to them, and when you are relaxed and focused, you can now more calmly look around for a door out.

This door is the exit you need from the craziness of your anxious thoughts.

It’s what your spirit needs in order to feel empowered or loved.

This could be an action that takes you a step closer to solving a problem.

It could also be reaching out to another person to get an emotional need met.

Or, it could be a resolve to let something go or to metaphorically put it in a box on a shelf for now.

Why You Should Journal When Feeling Anxious

When you’re in a high-anxiety mode, the last thing you feel like doing is sitting and journaling. It is, however, an activity that can benefit you greatly.

While your anxiety tends to keep you in high gear, frantically searching for unknown answers, journaling calms you down to actually be able to find doable solutions.

Sitting down to journal slows your breathing, which in turn calms your body and allows your thinking brain to begin working.

Putting your words on paper brings clarity and helps make sense of your emotions.

The final reason why you should journal when feeling anxious is it’s a powerful way to find true solutions to what is causing your stress.

It may not make the stressor go away, but it can help you cope much more calmly.

If you struggle with anxiety on a regular basis, take advantage of my other tips to bring calm by enrolling in my 30-day email series “30 Days of Calm.”

You’ll also receive my next article in which I will be giving you some simple ways to begin journaling.

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Tawnya Kordenbrock, LPCC

 

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In Honor of My Father, My Dad Who Abused Me

Jun 15, 2017 by

In Honor of My Father, My Dad Who Abused Me

One of the hardest things I’ve had to do in life is reconcile with the harshly contrasting ideas that I had a father who loved me but who also sexually abused me.

Yet, being able to hold both concepts together radically changed my life.

(Warning: you may find the following story difficult to read. Just so you know, I have not given any explicit details. However, I cannot guarantee the story won’t trigger any abuse memories you may have.)

My hope with this article is that it will give you direction if your dad abused you (or anyone else for that matter).

My Father Loved Me

My dad died when I was only eight years old. I missed him terribly.

The course of my family’s life was forever changed.

Having only seven years with him, I had few memories.

One particular memory I have is of him taking me to Eden Park in Cincinnati when I was only three years old.

While the details are sketchy, what stands out is hearing him telling me the story of Romulus and Remus. I remember being mesmerized by his voice. I remember feeling safe in his arms as I viewed the troubling statue of two infants nursing on a she-wolf.

Another memory is from my mother about my father.

“You were your daddy’s favorite,” she frequently told me.

I’m sure the comment was meant to make me feel special, but it didn’t quite work that way.

Having favorites within a family isn’t healthy. It creates division and cheapens the power of love.

If you’re a favorite, you continually strive for an unknown standard that ensures your status.

My Father Abused Me

Around the age of 30, I began having panic attacks.

Normally, panic attacks have a trigger. Mine was an older male Christian mentor.

He was a caring man who modeled for me intimacy with God as Father, a prayer that resonated deeply from within me.

I also saw him spending time with his young daughter, which stirred pangs of longing for a father of my own.

As God was so mercifully bringing all of this to the surface so it could be healed, I found I was unable to control the panic attacks my mentor triggered.

I began seeing a Christian counselor and receiving weekly prayer from Christian friends. Within a short amount of time memories of my dad raping me began flooding back.

The best I can figure is it occurred at about the age of seven.

Rage

The revelation, while answering other questions about my teenage behaviors and self-image struggles, put me in a whirlwind.

“How does a loving father treat his daughter that way!!!?” I raged.

The ravages of sexual abuse by a parent are extensive. Sexual abuse of any kind is damaging, but parental abuse shatters your world.

The very person whose role is to protect and nourish you instead violates and uses you.

Who He Was

Some years ago I contemplated writing an essay for a contest that asked, “When did you know you were finally an adult?”

My answer would have been, “When I could accept my parents as broken people and love them anyway.”

I recently read a quote by Ann Voskamp that said,

“You can’t deeply love your parents until you grieve the deep wounds of their life.”

My dad came from a horribly broken and dysfunctional childhood. I had no idea until I began asking relatives.

He had much to overcome.

Yet, he was one of the best of the bunch from his family. He was a hard worker with a giving heart. He made people laugh. He provided for his family.

And, he did love me.

Who I Am

Sexual abuse messes with your sense of self.

Much of your identity comes from your early childhood. It is here that you learn your value. You learn whether or not you are lovable and whether or not others are capable of love.

After the revelation, I struggled intensely to grasp knowing I was lovable and was loved.

God the Father met me in that place.

He held me tight through it all. He comforted me and spoke words of love to me through his Word and into my spirit.

I wrestled both with why my dad abused me and why God allowed it.

In the end, I had to settle on the possibility that God had totally forgiven my dad and I could very well see him later in heaven.

It was a realization of the incredibly massive power of God’s mercy and Christ’s sacrifice for sinners.

It was an acceptance and celebration of God’s love and his ways. Who else could take such darkness and make it glorious?

I also had to reject my dad’s treatment of me as a definition of who I was.

Instead, I’ve had to take on God’s definition of me, as seen in scripture. This is why I so love the Bible.

Your Journey

Today I can say, “I love my father and he loved me. And, he was a broken, sinful man.”

Today, I can hold the two concepts together that my dad loved me and my dad abused me.

I can hold those two together because I realize how sin destroys us all. Yet, God can restore and renew our lives.

I can now honor my father because I know he is a part of a grand painting that displays God’s redemption through his son, Jesus Christ.

How about you? Were you abused by your dad? How are you handling these childhood wounds?

Instead of holding onto rage, I encourage you to run as hard as you can toward the Father’s love.

If you’re angry with him, wrestle through until your heart is settled. As you do, your heart will also become settled with your earthly father.

You can begin focusing on love and your true value by renewing your mind with scripture.

My free e-book “45 Biblical Affirmations for Renewing Your Mind” is a great place to start. I would be glad to send it to you — just leave me your name and email below.

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This is an update of a post I wrote several years ago and thought it may benefit you to see it again. Let me know it's been of help by sharing it with others. Thanks!

Tawnya Kordenbrock, LPCA

 

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Are You Helping Too Much?

Jun 8, 2017 by

Are You Helping Too Much?

It’s hard to know sometimes whether you’re helping someone or actually helping too much.

Some people might refer to this as controlling, which I’ve written about before.

Basically, controlling behaviors are rooted in your own anxieties.

“But,” you may say, “I have a good heart and really want to help.”

I believe you. However, in order to know if you’ve crossed the line with your helping, so that you’re maybe helping too much, here are some guidelines to make it more clear.

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Hope When Your Child Is Not Walking with God

May 31, 2017 by

Hope When Your Child Is Not Walking with God

If you’ve raised your children “in the church” and lived in such a way to demonstrate to them that faith in God is important, it’s so incredibly painful to see them not walking with God.

Then again, maybe you had serious struggles as a young adult and didn’t even know to recognize and submit to Jesus as being in charge of your life. And, now that you’ve recognized his incredible love for you, you want nothing more than to see your child make the same discovery.

Well, I have to be truthful, I don’t have a magic formula or even a miraculous prayer that can make your child see the truth of how beautiful Jesus is and how God’s ways not only make sense but will bring the most joy to his or her your life.

I have, however, learned an important stance to take that can empower your prayers and give you peace in your heart.

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Complete Emotional Healing – Don’t Miss This Step

May 24, 2017 by

Complete Emotional Healing – Don’t Miss This Step

Are you feeling stuck in your pain and wondering why? Are you wondering how you could ever move beyond past hurts and get complete emotional healing?

It’s so frustrating when you repeat the same patterns over and over — pushing others away, withdrawing, or questioning if you’re loved. Or, maybe you continually view yourself as less important than others and not worth their time.

To help you, there’s plenty you could be doing on your own right now, such as gaining insight by reading and journaling.

A starting point could be Why You Do the Things You Do: The Secret to Healthy Relationships by Dr. Tim Clinton, president of the American Association of Christian Counselors.

You could consider how family dysfunction has played into how you view yourself and how you interact within relationships.

If you were abused as a child, you might want to consider if there’s a part of you that believes it was your fault.

Similarly, if you were raped at any time, this article could help.

Of course, there’s much more…but…there’s one element you shouldn’t miss.

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Letting Go of the Pain of Your Child’s Life

May 10, 2017 by

Letting Go of the Pain of Your Child’s Life

As you pray for your adult children, be aware of the condition of your own heart.

Pain from the past, and especially pain that continues, can move into your heart and take up residence, causing you to have a skewed view of your child and what he or she needs.

It can also hinder your prayers being heard if that room within your heart houses nonforgiveness.

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Dreading Church on Mother’s Day?

May 4, 2017 by

Dreading Church on Mother’s Day?

There was a time in my life when I dreaded going to church on Mother’s Day.

In fact, I remember one particular Sunday when I got up and walked out.

I just couldn’t sit there and listen anymore to how incredible mothers are and if you were a good mom then your kids will have turned out magnificently. Blah, blah, blah, …

The problem is not all mothers are incredible nor is there a cookie-cutter formula for raising incredible children.

On this particular Mother’s Day when I walked out of church, I was feeling the pain of regret about my own parenting. On some prior years I was also trying to come to terms with the shortcomings of my own mom.

If either of these describe you, keep reading.

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How to Get Rid of Self-Loathing

Apr 26, 2017 by

How to Get Rid of Self-Loathing

Do you struggle with self-loathing? Do you put yourself down? Do you hide from people, cameras, or even mirrors?

Maybe you just have a nagging feeling that others see the real you and despise you. Or, if they knew the real you they would be disgusted.

Self-loathing is not only a behavior, it is a belief that you picked up early in life.

It’s a belief that doesn’t allow for mistakes or flaws but instead labels you as worthless, unlovable, or less than others.

Another word for self-loathing is shame.

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Throw Off the Weight of Parental Guilt

Apr 19, 2017 by

Throw Off the Weight of Parental Guilt

Laura felt out of control with keeping boundaries with her adult kids.

Every time they asked for help, she just couldn’t say no.

Her heart ached whenever she saw them struggle because she saw that they were suffering just as she had as a young adult.

“No one was there for me,” she said, “but I’m going to be there for them.”

What really weighed on her heart, though, was the guilt she felt as a parent. She saw herself as not being there for them when they were young because of her own struggles.

In fact, all she could see was all she had done wrong.

Unfortunately, parental guilt caused serious problems for her and her relationship with her kids.

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How to Pray with Power for Your Adult Child

Apr 12, 2017 by

How to Pray with Power for Your Adult Child

Do you worry that your adult child has left the church? Are you fearful he or she may have even given up on God?

Perhaps you’re consumed with worry that her life is on a downward spiral due to drugs or alcohol. Or, maybe you have nightmares of your son losing his life in an automobile accident due to addictions.

These are tough issues. They’re even maddening if you get stuck dwelling on them.

Instead of praying out of fear, as I mentioned in my previous post, begin praying with power.

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Get Rid of Anxious Prayers for Your Adult Child

Apr 6, 2017 by

Get Rid of Anxious Prayers for Your Adult Child

Does your heart race when you think about the dangers your adult child could be facing?

Does your mind race with fearful thoughts of dreadful outcomes?

Do you find yourself going to God with prayers that sound like, “Please, please, please God, help Renaldo! Keep him from this destructive lifestyle.” Yet, you find you still feel anxious and fearful? And, even worse, you don’t see anything happening with your child?

There’s a better way to pray that will help your anxiety and will also align with how the Lord instructs us to pray.

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What Stops You from Being Assertive? These 12 Beliefs!

Mar 30, 2017 by

What Stops You from Being Assertive? These 12 Beliefs!

For the past few weeks, we’ve looked at your fear of becoming too aggressive or too passive.

We’ve looked at whether or not you’re actually passive aggressive.

Then, we looked at how your family and friends might respond negatively if you begin being assertive.

Now, it’s important to realize there could also be some core beliefs that stop you from being assertive.

These will need to be addressed before you can feel comfortable saying “No” to someone or holding yourself back from verbally attacking or subversively getting back at them.

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