Poems About Anxiety To Help You Feel Seen

Medically reviewed by Nikki Ciletti
Updated February 20, 2024by BetterHelp Editorial Team

Sometimes, experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition can be isolating. It may seem like no one understands how you feel or has faced the same challenges. That’s why some people find turning to art to be calming and even healing. Many people have experienced anxiety throughout history and over 30% of US adults experience some form of it today, so there’s plenty of literature, poetry, music, and visual art out there that describes the experience and can help you feel seen. 

Below, you’ll find a few poems that discuss anxiety or related emotions and experiences, which you may find helpful if you’re facing symptoms of anxiety yourself. Remember that seeking professional treatment for symptoms of any mental health disorder is usually recommended.

Getty/MixMedia
Experiencing symptoms of anxiety?

What is anxiety?

First, let’s take a quick overview of what anxiety is. In the general sense, anxiety is a normal human feeling that most people will experience from time to time. It’s a future-oriented emotion “characterized by apprehension and somatic symptoms of tension”.

So while it’s common to experience a temporary sense of anxiety before a job interview or a medical procedure, for example, ongoing, persistent anxiety that causes significant distress and interferes with daily functioning is not and may be a sign of an anxiety disorder.

Anxiety disorders are the most common form of mental health disorder affecting people today. They can affect both adults and children. While many can be serious, they’re generally manageable and/or treatable with the right support. Types of anxiety disorders include generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), social anxiety disorder, separation anxiety disorder, agoraphobia, specific phobias, and panic disorder. Symptoms may vary depending on the disorder, but generally may include:

  • Persistent, uncontrollable worry
  • Muscle tension
  • Trouble sleeping
  • A sense of dread
  • Restlessness
  • Nausea 
  • Panic attacks

Poetry about anxiety

Since anxiety can affect a person’s thought patterns and daily functioning in such a significant way, it’s not surprising that poetry has been written about it throughout history. For example, consider the following relevant stanza of "The Teacher's Monologue" (1846) by Charlotte Brontë:

My happiest hours, aye! all the time,
I love to keep in memory,
Lapsed among moors, ere life's first prime
Decayed to dark anxiety.

Here, Brontë relates that although she enjoys reflecting on positive memories, “dark anxiety” finds a way to creep in and affect her even in these lighter moments. An individual experiencing anxiety may relate to her description of that feeling of worry gradually encroaching on one’s mind.

Other poets direct their focus on the hope that can be associated with the possibility of symptom relief. This section of Stephen Dunn's "Poem for People that Are Understandably Too Busy to Read Poetry" is one example:

Relax.
This won't last long.
Dunn goes on to say:
You see, I want this poem to be nicer
than life. I want you to look at it
when anxiety zigzags your stomach
and the last tranquilizer is gone
and you need someone to tell you
I’ll be here when you want me
like the sound inside a shell.

This poem is a reminder that virtually every feeling is temporary and that managing anxiety symptoms is possible with the right resources and support. 

Some people find that grounding exercises can help them manage anxiety symptoms in the moment. Getting in tune with the nature around you is one way to do this—a technique that poet Rose Styron captures in her short poem, "Untitled [No One's Awake]":

No one's awake
but us, and a bird.
The day's too beautiful
to speak a word.

iStock/Inside Creative House

While anxiety can feel overwhelming at times, it can be helpful to remember that help is available and symptom mitigation is possible. Take, for instance, the poem "Wait" by Galway Kinnell. Here, Kinnell speaks to the hopelessness that anxiety can bring but offers reasons to be hopeful even in the face of it:

Wait, for now.
Distrust everything if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become interesting.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again;
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. The desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Wait.
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a little and listen:
music of hair,
music of pain,
music of looms weaving our loves again.
Be there to hear it; it will be the only time,
most of all to hear your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.

Getty
Experiencing symptoms of anxiety?

Seeking treatment for anxiety

If you’re experiencing symptoms of anxiety that are interfering with your life, it can be helpful to know that resources are available. In general, anxiety disorders are treatable—typically through psychotherapy, sometimes in combination with medication. A cognitive behavioral therapist in particular can help you learn to recognize distorted thoughts that may be contributing to your symptoms so you can shift them in a more balanced, healthier direction. They can also assist you in developing healthy coping mechanisms for managing distressing emotions and symptoms.

Some people with anxiety find the prospect of meeting with a therapist in person to be intimidating. In cases like these, online therapy can represent a more comfortable alternative. With a virtual therapy platform like BetterHelp, you can get matched with a licensed provider who you can meet with via phone, video call, and/or online chat to address the challenges you may be facing. Since research suggests that cognitive behavioral therapy conducted face to face and via the internet can be “equally effective,” you can typically choose the format that works best for you. See below for client reviews of BetterHelp counselors.

Counselor reviews

"Dr. Munyan was so helpful! I am dealing with a lot of anxiety and he provided so many amazing ways for me to handle it better. Definitely would recommend him".

"Natasha has been a truly amazing counselor! I now feel that I have the confidence to face challenges as they come. Natasha helped me to reflect on why I might be feeling a certain way while providing me with some tools to cope with my anxiety as needed. She was incredibly understanding and helped me to set realistic goals with myself and others. Not only can I tell that our counseling sessions helped, but also others have commented on the positive changes I have made. She's awesome!"

Takeaway

Sometimes, engaging with the arts can make those experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition feel seen and supported. If you're experiencing signs of an anxiety disorder, the recommended next step is typically to meet with a mental health professional who can help you address them.

Regulate anxiety in a compassionate environment

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. For more information, please read our terms of use.
Get the support you need from one of our therapistsGet Started