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Using Emotive Words More Can Help Reduce Anxiety

Updated: Sep 17, 2023

What is an emotive word anyway? Basically, words we should be using to accurately describe how we feel but we don't.

Now correct me if I’m wrong but in my experience, nothing good has ever come out of or been resolved by miscommunication or no communication for that matter.

I’d like to make a point at this stage and explain that “tired” or “stressed” used as emotive words have become so overused and easily ignored that they no longer serve any purpose when we are trying to explain how we feel. In fact, I’m going to take a moment here and just list some far better options that I’m sure you’ll agree to say more about what you are feeling than tired or stressed ever will (minimal effort required)

Tired – Worn out, drained, overworked, lethargic, fatigued, exhausted, bored, and sleepy.

Stressed – Frazzled, overwhelmed, concerned, pressured, overworked

See, you don’t have to say any more than you would have done, but that simple change can carry more weight and start a better more honest communication.

We’re always going on about encouraging emotive words at Discovery Journal, and we’ve made it one of the key features in all our journals. You might wonder what emotive words have to do with anxiety or reducing anxiety, so let’s explain:

How Using Emotive Words Can Improve Anxiety

1. Honesty

Using emotive words often encourages honesty not only with others but with ourselves. Being able to explain who you are or how you are feeling in an honest manner will help you deal with your anxiety better. Admitting you aren't perfect, understanding that no one else is either, confronting your worst faults, and embracing them , these things really made me more confident and less afraid of what other people thought of me; therefore helping my social anxiety immensely.

Judgement by others is a fuel for anxiety, it feeds off it. If you take away the fuel there isn't a lot left. Being able to say "I'm scared" instead of "I'm fine" not only takes the pressure off you but it lets others know it's ok to come forward, to say you aren't ok and acknowledge you aren't perfect.

2. Communication

Talking therapy like journaling is another method of reducing and understanding anxiety, trauma, and other aspects of your life which contribute to mental illness or overall poor mental health. It doesn’t matter what stage you are at communication with others will always be a key to recovery. You might not want to speak to anyone else just yet, but talking to yourself is the first step and that’s what journaling is all about. Learning to use emotive words through your discovery journal will give you the confidence to explain better how you are feeling to those closest to you when you are ready.

Example 1:

Person 1: "How are you? You look upset"

Person 2 "I'm fine, just a bit tired"

Person: "Oh ok, well if you need anything I'm here"

Example 2:

Person 1: "How are you? You look upset"

Person 2: "I am upset, everything is getting on top of me at the moment, I'm feeling a bit lost in it all"

Person 3: "Ok talk to me, what's been going on?"

Do you see the difference? That dialogue begins seamlessly. Maybe you don't want to talk right now, maybe you aren't ready, that's ok cause you've laid the groundwork and you can now communicate that you aren't in the right space to elaborate.

3. Awareness

The more descriptive you are in your explanation you’ll likely notice others around you will adopt the same practice. It’s all about confidence and when people are around each other they tend to bounce off one another. Just using one emotive word instead of a vague “I’m fine” or something similar will come across as honesty and likely open the conversation up, putting the other person at ease and feeling more comfortable pursuing an honest dialogue.

It's as simple as leading by example.

How do we encourage the dialogue of emotive words?

Every Discovery Journal whether it be our adult, teen, ASD or ABA (Family Friends) versions all includes the encouragement of emotive words.

Emotive word box

We always start with an emotive word box, this might seem like a very simple exercise but it's so fundamentally important! When the words are laid out right there in front of you it's so much easier to locate the ones you are actually feeling. If you are asked spontaneously how you are feeling, you often deter yourself from using more explanatory terms primarily because you can't find them in your head. Seeing these terms over and over and getting used to locating them on the page will give you practice in finding them during a conversation.


Throughout the journal, we try and add more sections that relate back to the emotive box, when looking into interactions with people throughout the day we ask you to go back and use the emotive words to describe the interaction.

The aim is to keep using them throughout your entries acclimatising yourself to their presence and being able to pick them out of the air when your journal isn't around to prompt you.

ASD Version - Encouraging Communication

The ASD version of our Discovery Journal focus' on using emotive words more heavily than the others. Those with Autism tend to struggle more to find any way to communicate feelings and start that initial dialogue. It's not a choice to keep quiet for be intentionally vague. The ASD Journal looks at categorising words to create an association, by doing so it provides the user with more terminology but in a clearer format.

The user is asked frequently to refer back to the categories to explain a particular place, interaction or environment, this practice will encourage the use of emotive words in day-to-day life.

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