If you suffer from anxiety you may be looking for easy, healthy ways to manage your anxiety on a daily basis that actually help.
Journaling is just one way in which you can do that. This is what we will cover in this blog post: An anxiety journal is a book for you to write in, a blank canvas. An anxiety journal template goes one step further. The Anxiety Journal Template is a framework, created by you or someone else, designed to help you navigate overwhelming emotions, track symptoms, and promote positive change in your life. The anxiety journal template can incorporate journal prompts, gratitude exercises, and symptom trackers into your daily routine. You can gain better insight into your anxiety disorder and take proactive steps towards improved mental and physical health.
We will create a personalised anxiety journal template for you in this blog post.
Before we start, there are a good number of articles covering all different aspects of anxiety and anxiety management in the Wardrobe Journaling website. This is the current list of all the anxiety related blog posts, including this one:
How to journal and create positive affirmations for anxiety
How to create a personalised anxiety journal template
Unveiling new layers to your personalised anxiety journal
How to be kind to yourself: Journal prompts for anxiety
How to manage stress with journal prompts for stress and anxiety
5 powerful journal therapy ideas to heal anxiety and trauma
- Your anxiety journal template
- Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Anxiety Journal Template
- Step 1: Define Your Purpose and Format
- Step 2: Identifying anxiety types
- Step 3: Design the Template Framework
- Action types to include in your journal
- Action could be taken
- Deeper dive journaling
- Could become healthy assets
- Where I need others to help
- Personal Style
- Step 4: Designing your personalised anxiety journal template
Your anxiety journal template
An Anxiety Journal Template is a simple yet invaluable resource that enables you to explore and address negative thoughts, unhelpful patterns, and anxious feelings in a structured manner. By dedicating a few minutes each day to journal writing, you can develop a deeper understanding of your triggers, identify patterns, and recognize the impact anxiety has on your daily life. The journal prompts included in this template will guide your reflections, encouraging you to delve into both the challenges and the good things that shape your own life.
It’s important to note that while the Anxiety Journal Template can be a valuable tool for self-reflection and growth, it is not a substitute for professional help. If you’re experiencing severe anxiety symptoms or mental health issues, it’s always best to seek the guidance of a qualified therapist or counsellor. They can provide additional support and recommend the best course of action for your specific needs, which may include therapy, medication, or even online group therapy sessions.
The Anxiety Journal Template is just one tool in your anxiety management toolbox. It’s important to combine journaling with other best practices such as maintaining a healthy lifestyle, seeking professional help when needed, and finding other services that can help.
Step-by-Step Guide to Creating an Anxiety Journal Template
Are you ready to make a start? Follow these step-by-step instructions to create your personalized anxiety journal template:
Step 1: Define Your Purpose and Format
The first thing to do is to clarify your intention for creating the anxiety journal template.
What exactly are you feeling anxious about? Is it general anxiety or is it something specific.
Take some time to answer this question. You can also journal it as a way of working through your thoughts.
You may think that it is general anxiety, but when you start to journal you realise that there are various different subjects that are giving you cause for anxiety but you hadn’t separated them out in your mind before starting to journal.
I created mine and then by looking at them was able to work out how to address them.
This was my list (which you can see in the image):
- Being unfit, overweight, flabby
- My hair which never looks great
- puffy fingers – is it arthritis?
- When I walk upstairs my left knee is painful and weak.
- I’m anxious that life is so fleeting
- I’m anxious that I’ll die before achieving my life’s purpose
- I’m anxious that i have ADHD currently undiagnosed, but that it’s ruining my life
- I’m anxious that I’m not good at my job
- I’m anxious that the house is always a mess.
- I’m anxious that I feel my eating and drinking are out of control
- I’m anxious that everything in the house keeps going wrong
- I’m overwhelmed by “stuff” that needs organising
- I’m overwhelmed by what I currently need to get done
- I’m anxious because I’m always so tired and worry that this will prevent me from achieving my goals.
- I’m anxious about my credit card situation.
- I’m anxious simple because anxiety is so exhausting
- I’m anxious because my anxiety is causing me to emotional eat and I feel like I’ve lost track of whether I’m actually hungry or not and have no control over my eating.
This is a great place to start. It takes all the ‘stuff’ off my brain and I already feel better for writing it down.
The next stage is to design the template so that all your different types of anxiety are managed. The way we do this is to identify the different types of anxiety that you are experiencing.
Go and write you list now.
If you look at my list, or look at your own, you will see that you have a variety of different anxiety issues going on. Some of these negative emotions can be dealt with quite easily and others will be managed on an ongoing basis. Learning to treat these various issue differently is an effective way to start healing from anxiety. When you know that you can deal with something, that you have agency in what you are doing, then you feel empowered. And when you feel empowered your body is full of healthy positive emotions, rather than the negative, draining emotions of anxiety. Sound good?
Step 2: Identifying anxiety types
Go through your list and identify the different types of phrases you have written.
Some anxiety is around situations where action could be taken . For example, “everything in my house keeps going wrong”.
Some anxiety would benefit from deeper dive journaling, for example “I’m anxious that life is so fleeting”.
Some anxiety is around situations where, if they were turned into action points, could become healthy assets in your life. For example “Being unfit, overweight, flabby”.
Some anxiety is around situations where you need others to help and you may (or may not) be avoiding going to ask for help for whatever reason (which would benefit from journaling), for example “puffy fingers, is it arthritis?”
Some anxiety is around situations where you are overwhelmed. Overwhelmed is an interesting category. I think it requires action rather than too much thought. The anxiety and accompanying overwhelm are potentially keeping you from taking action on purpose. You need action plus journaling.
Some anxiety around phrases like “I’m always so…..” “I always…..” anything that describes an occurence happening continually over a long period of time needs tracking.
Anxiety around specifics, “I’m anxious about my credit card debt” needs managing as a project. Credit card debt will have a beginning, a middle and an end. My fear is that it won’t ever end so if I can create a project around it it will be easier for me to get to an end point, closure. No more anxiety.
So you can see from this list that there are different specific aspects to addressing your symptoms of anxiety, like anxiety management, daily routine, or promoting positive change. We’ll take these different aspects and use them to create your personal anxiety journal template.
Step 3: Design the Template Framework
You can use a word processing software or a design tool to create the layout for your anxiety journal template. Or you can create it by hand using a pen and ruler which is what I often do when I am starting a new journal type. I find the hand/brain connection more stimulating than initially creating a table in Word.
Get started by addressing each group one by one:
I write mine out by hand and put them into the different groups I outlined above.
When you have the different groups then you need to assign the relevant action for each group.
Here is a summary list of different action types you can take for each different group you have made:
Action types to include in your journal
Action could be taken
This is for list items where the situation could be improved by taking action rather than journaling, “Things in the house keep going wrong” “I’m always late”, “My house is a mess”. Of course you can journal about these issues but action will really help to reduce anxiety in this situation.
Let’s go through this step to create your ‘Action could be taken’ template, using my example, ‘Everything in the house keeps going wrong’.
1. List out what has gone wrong.
2. Next to each item write down the next step that you need to take to address the issue. eg call someone, find someone, get a number, wash it, throw it away. Whatever it is write it down.
3. Now, give yourself a date when you are going to do just this one action step.
And that’s it. That is your list addressed. You’ve taken the next step.
Oh, one final point in this step
4. Now journal how you feel having written all the items down and put a next step action point in place. It doesn’t have to be extensive journaling, it’s just enough to capture how you are feeling and what you are thinking.
What you have done here is two things which will really help address your anxiety. Firstly you have specifically addressed what is giving you anxiety and secondly you may have changed your emotions around the anxiety into much more positive, powerful feelings than you had before (which you capture in the final point 4).
When you address what specifically is giving you anxiety it helps contain your anxiety levels and when you start to change your feelings around the anxiety by being able to take action you empower yourself and the next time you are in the same situation you may find everything is much easier to deal with.
Deeper dive journaling
This is for items on your list which you need to explore further. You will be able to recognise them. They can’t be easily resolved with a quick conversation. There is more to unpack. Items on my list that go into this category are, “I’m anxious that life is so fleeting.” “I’m anxious that I’ll die before achieving my life’s purpose”.
This section calls for you to spend some considerable time on these issues. For each of these thoughts, start a new page. At the top of the page write down the thought that is giving you anxiety. Then use as much page space and time to journal around why you feel like you do. There is no wrong or right. You are just trying to work out how you are feeling and why you are feeling like you do.
The perfect outcome for this section is that you understand why you are thinking as you are. And, if possible, through that understand, become less anxious. It may take more than one session of journaling or one might be exactly what you need.
Could become healthy assets
Items on this list are typically concerns that if they were reversed could have a positive impact on your physical or mental health.
My item for this list is “Being unfit, overweight and flabby”. If I were not unfit, overweight or flabby then this would have a very positive impact on my life. Another item could be something like “I just don’t find the time to read and have time to myself.” If you did read and have time to yourself your mental health would definitely improve.
I love this section because it so often reveals to me that I am mentally punishing myself (which is ridiculous and not helpful) and that by reversing the thought into a more positive, proactive one, I am able to a) treat myself better and b) improve my life by benefitting either mentally or physically by the reverse.
This is how it works. Take my example, “Being unfit, overweight and flabby”. You can feel the disappointment in myself in this phrase can’t you?
So ask yourself two questions:
1. What is the opposite of this phrase? It’s “being fit, at the perfect weight and toned”.
2. What would it take to get me to fit, perfect weight, toned? The answer is: regular exercise, healthy food, weights. It’s as simple as that.
From having huge anxiety over the fact that my body is changing, my face looks different, I fear getting older and I don’t look like I used to I can transform my emotional state from ‘despairing’ to ‘optimistic’ by inverting the phrase and creating an action point around it.
3. The final stage in this section is to create a simple plan of diet and exercise. Make it as simple as possible. If you suffer from anxiety the last thing you want is to create more things to do in your life. You want to simplify it. So, for me, this is my plan. Eat 3 meals a day, eat lots of fruit and veg, run 3 times a week, weights 4 times a week for 15 minutes and then any form of fun exercise as well eg ballet exercises, yoga and walking the dogs. I will probably make myself a chart. But the really crucial thing is to make it easy for myself and actually do what I say I am going to do.
Where I need others to help
These are list items that you can’t sort out on your own. Eg my puffy fingers or the fact that when I walk upstairs my left knee is painful.
For this exercise you will write everything out and then write next to each item, who will help, how to get hold of them and if you are feeling really efficient the date by which you are going to contact them. Try to have completed all the items within a week. I have found that anxiety builds up exponentially the more I leave things and not take action.
The items on this list are generally where you have actually written “I’m overwhelmed by..” on your list or something similar eg “I can’t cope with….” The items on this list for me are, “I’m overwhelmed by stuff that needs organising” and “I’m overwhelmed by what I currently need to get done”.
This is probably my favourite category. I love it because overwhelm is really sneaky, it tries to tell you that you need to stay in a condition of high anxiety because you are overwhelmed.
And we burst it’s bubble!
Write out what is overwhelming you. Each thought needs its own sentence. So you should have some phrases like this,
“I’m overwhelmed by the thought of moving house.”
“I’m overwhelmed by the thought of getting in shape.”
“I’m overwhelmed by the thought of tidying the house.”
“I’m overwhelmed by combining working with looking after the family.”
“I’m overwhelmed by caring for my parents.”
Firstly write out exactly what overwhelms you. It doesn’t have to be full sentences, just jot everything down.
Then, and this is a lovely bit, ask yourself how you would feel if you weren’t overwhelmed by moving house or getting in shape.
Write down what comes up for you. Just do it now. Ask yourself how you would feel if you weren’t overwhelmed?
You see overwhelm is a choice. It may not feel like a choice, but it is. It’s a choice to feel a certain way about a certain situation. So you can decide to feel entirely differently about the situation if you like. And we do like. Because we are in the business of removing anxiety from your every day life.
So, go on, ask yourself how you would feel about something.
You see, if I ask myself how I would feel if i weren’t overwhelmed by tidying the house, this is what I think. “I’ll do it tomorrow when I have more energy.”
And, what’s more if I then go back and ask myself why I feel overwhelmed, the reason is this, ‘My family are very tidy and they will think badly of me that my house is untidy.”
Immediately I have liberated myself from the anxiety and from attaching myself to what other people may or may not think about me.
It’s so liberating. Give it a go.
Then, next to each item write down what you think the practical solution is to that particular overwhelming thought.
For tidying the house it’s agreeing with myself that I can’t do a deep dive house clean in one weekend. I’m going to concentrate on the master bedroom and sitting room and give everything else a light clean and tidy up. And I’m going to tidy up this evening and clean tomorrow after lunch.
Items on here are those which relate to your personal appearance. If you change these items you will feel psychologically much better but potentially not physically healthier. The item on the list that I wrote down is “My hair which never looks great”. After I had written that down I spent time on myself, styled my hair and took the photo in one of the images above. And I felt so much better. And what I realised is that so often I despair of something that I haven’t given myself enough time on. I’ve neglected my hair a little because with all the dog walking and the winter weather I’ve been in a hat for what about 5 or 6 months (that’s UK weather for you!). And giving myself time to look after my appearance has reaped rewards. In fact a work colleague on a zoom call on the morning that I did my hair commented, ‘You look so great today.!’ How amazing is that?
So go on, your go, what personal style items are you despairing of, are giving you anxiety and where can you give yourself some love, stop punishing yourself by neglecting yourself and take great care of yourself?
For this section, just write out what it is that is giving you anxiety and then go and attend to it. Give yourself some great love in doing it.
Items that go in the specifics category are items which you can identify as a particular situation. My list entry is “I’m anxious about my credit card debt”.
For this you are going to create a project eg for my credit card debt I need to work out how much to pay back each month, get in contact with the credit card company and manage it like I would any other project in my life. The anxiety has risen because I haven’t managed it properly. The specifics category is like that. It just needs managing.
Other items that go in the specifics category would be something like, “I’m anxious about our weekly food bill.” “I’m anxious about how much we are spending going out.” “I’m anxious about remortgaging the house and how much it will cost.” Other ‘specifics’ that are non-financial could be, “I’m anxious about what to wear/take on holiday.” “I’m anxious about a long distance drive I need to take.” “I’m anxious about a work review.” These are all great items to turn into mini projects.
The better you are at identifying what is giving you anxiety that is specific, the easier it is to create a project around it. As soon as you have created a project around it you are actively managing the situation. And when you are actively managing it, anxiety diminishes.
So, to summarise this situation create list headings and assign each of your list items to one of those categories.
Step 4: Designing your personalised anxiety journal template
The great news is at this stage you have done the hard work.
And, you have actually designed your anxiety journal template.
You have all the categories you need.
Now you need to decide where you want all your categories to be housed.
Creating an anxiety journal can be an one-off event in , or it can be a life-long companion.
Choose a journal you want to return to repeatedly and that you look forward to writing in.
I hope you have enjoyed this blog post. If you would like to read more about wellness and mental health and how you can take simple steps to help yourself, try one of these:
Finally, let me tell you a little bit about Wardrobe Journaling. It is the process I have created that helps you understand yourself better through journaling and through thinking about the clothes you wear and your own unique personality. There are lots of Wardrobe Journaling blog posts available on this site. There is also the entirely unique Wardrobe Journaling course. If you want to take a step further into your own self development and self care this is a great, gentle but powerful course to take.
Have a great day!