To be blunt, anxiety sucks. Being anxious is a strong state to be in, and it can be hard to deal with at times. When things are hard, art can often help us express what's bothering us. It also helps us feel less alone, especially if we feel the same way as a particular artist. Poems about anxiety and even depression may help you manage these difficult emotions. It can be such a relief when someone else expresses the feelings you've been trying to put into words for so long. Poetry can help you remember that you're not alone.
What Is Anxiety?
It's important to know that anxiety is common and that there are ways to manage it. Many people experience anxious moments, but if you have an anxiety disorder, the fear, the worry, and the stress don't go away. They can even increase over time.
Anxiety can present itself in different ways, including some of the following:
Some forms of anxiety cause a person to be partially or completely withdrawn, while others (like excoriation) cause a person to take out their anxiety on their own body.
It's important to note that everyone feels fear and anxiety throughout life and that these emotions can be good for us. They keep us on our toes, and they teach us how to respond to certain stimuli that might otherwise be dangerous. However, when these feelings persist and get worse enough to reach a severe level, a professional may need to assess the person's symptoms.
If you've been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder, you may find that art helps you manage it. Poetry in particular can be a source of expression and comfort. If you deal with difficult levels of anxiety, we hope this poetry brings you calm and a sense of understanding.
Famous Poems About Anxiety
Believe it or not, there are many well-known poems about anxiety. Consider "The Teacher's Monologue" by Charlotte Bronte. You'll find a relevant stanza from this poem below:
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, Bronte says that, while she loves to remember the good things that have happened to her, dark anxiety always finds a way to creep in and cover everything she loves. Those of us who have anxiety know all too well how it feels when that famous black cloud rolls in.
It's almost counterintuitive. One might think that this poetry would create anxiety. Instead, for some, it can help them feel more understood.
Calming Poems For Anxiety
Some poets have overcome anxiety and, through their writing, attempt to show us that we, too, can overcome it with time. Take, for example, Stephen Dunn's "Poem for People that are Understandably Too Busy to Read Poetry." He sums it all up in his first two lines:
This won't last long.
While the rest of the poem is a joy to read, these first two lines are truly all you need. It's a reminder that time heals all wounds, and that this too shall pass. Sometimes, when your palms are sweaty, you can't breathe, and your heart is racing a hundred miles an hour, you think you're going to feel this way forever. Maybe you even feel like death may happen. But, it's a comfort to have someone reminding you that this will all be over soon. Even in such a heightened state, you may be able to believe it if the poetry really speaks to you.
Sometimes one of the best ways to ground yourself is to get in tune with nature so you can breathe. From a calm breeze and the carefree tweets of the birds to the warm sunshine and the peace of a leaf floating on the wind, nature can bring us back to our very core. It can turn down the noise and turn up the volume on what's most important in life. Instead of reading stressful books like The Blood Dimmed Tide with anxiety-inducing images at night before you sleep, it’s great to read poetry that calms you, written by the likes of Jean Valentine, Emily Dickinson, and Elizabeth Bishop.
Rose Styron catches these moments perfectly 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.
How beautiful is that? Styron captures the peace and beauty of the early morning and barely says anything at all. This poem is a great example of how less can be so much more.
Anxiety Poems To Help You Feel Less Alone
Anxiety Poems To Help You Feel Less Alone
Anyone that knows what anxiety feels like can tell you that it's about much more than just being nervous all of the time. When you struggle with anxiety, you also worry about having a panic attack in public, which then morphs into social anxiety.
Even the greatest poets have had social anxiety, so it makes sense that they would write poems about it to express themselves. Maybe they didn't feel comfortable talking to other people, or maybe they felt that writing expressed their emotions better than anything they could say out loud.
That said, if you've tried to find poems about anxiety, then you'll know it's difficult. Perhaps it's because of the stigma that is attached to anxiety disorders. This makes it hard for some people to discuss this topic. Or, perhaps poets characterize their feelings as something else, not realizing that they have anxiety themselves. In any event, when you do find a poem that strikes a chord with you, print it out or copy it down. Do whatever you can to save this poetry, because these are precious tools to help you manage your anxiety.
Take, for instance, the poem "Wait" by Galway Kinnell. Here, Kinnell harnesses the hopelessness that anxiety can bring and offers reasons why you should continue to hold onto hope.
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.
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.
Additional Help With Anxiety
If anxiety is a serious issue for you and your mental health, then you may want to find an in-person or online counselor to talk to who can help you work through it. Talking to friends or reading Emily Dickinson poetry might help, but it may not be enough when things fall apart. With your therapist’s guidance and emotional support and understanding, you will discover what might be causing the anxiety and finds ways to resolve it.
If you're interested in online therapy, BetterHelp offers an online platform where you can meet with a licensed counselor who can help you find tools that will work for you and your unique situation. We encourage you to take charge of your life by learning how to manage your anxiety and begin a journey of self-improvement. A great counselor can support you along the way at a time that’s convenient for you and wherever you feel most comfortable. Below, you'll find a couple counselor reviews from people experiencing similar issues.
"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!"
Commonly Asked Questions Below:
What is a metaphor for anxiety?
Anxiety can be likened to swimming in a vast ocean without being able to see any land. You’re afraid of death and are working hard to stay afloat. And while there may be land nearby to save you, you simply don’t know if it’s there or not. There is so much poetry out there that paints anxiety and depression into brilliant metaphors that can offer a light and make you feel less alone. If you’re looking for a poem about anxiety to help you cope with anxiety in the moment, consider reading poetry written by Emily Dickinson, Jean Valentine, or Elizabeth Bishop who wrote poems coming of the heels of the first World War.
What is the central theme of the poem anxiety?
The award winning spoken word poem called “Dear Anxiety” by Clayton Jennings is all about living with severe anxiety, and what it’s like to experience the symptoms of anxiety in day-to-day life. Jennings speaks about the suffering he’s gone through in his life with anxiety, and how it affects the lives of so many others too. But most struggle to openly describe its difficulties with others, as if anxiety ripples continually wash over so many people but they are ashamed to open up.