7 Ways The Anxiety Journal Might Just Change Your Life
Journaling is one of those concepts that seems too simple to make a difference. That’s what I thought when I first started journaling, but things started to change subconsciously. It was like I was creating the script for my own life. The things I wrote about started showing up.
This is why I’ve created The Anxiety Journal. I wanted to apply the profound power of journaling to the problem of anxiety.
People describe focused journaling as ‘magic’. But it’s not magic. Focused journaling works for a few simple reasons. Let’s look at those reasons:
Accountability - When you write down what you want you cement those desires into your consciousness. But building habits takes time. Completing the daily activities in this journal will have a direct impact on your results. Keep leaning in and believe in the process even when it feels difficult or seems like it isn’t working. Doing the journal daily keeps you accountable to the process.
Support - We need support when suffering anxiety — even when we don’t believe in ourselves. This journal will support and inspire you to ask for more in your own life. Using this journal daily means investing in YOU daily.
Inspiration - As one of my mentors, Philip McKernan, says, “You can’t motivate people to do anything, but you can inspire them.” The quotes and stories in this journal are designed to inspire. They will provide a lighthouse to show you the way.
Growth - Lao Tzu said, “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” Each day and week the journal will assist you in making small incremental steps to improve your life. You will grow if you continue to do the work.
Community - You are not alone. By using this journal you’ll be joining a community that wants to recover. Our goal isn’t to support you to cope — it’s to help you change. You can also join the conversation online for more conversation and accountability.
Confidence - Anxiety sucks the confidence out of us and makes us feel weak. Our self-esteem takes a beating and survival feels like an accomplishment. By investing in yourself daily and with the help of this journal your confidence will grow. From a tiny seed your confidence will grow.
Alignment - The tools in this journal will get you moving in the right direction. When a car has worn-out tires and damaged suspension , the steering wheel begins to shake. Anxiety is your shaky steering wheel — it’s a reflection of being out of alignment. Your cause may be a job, a relationship, location, self-awareness, or something else.. If any of these things are out of alignment, your shaky steering wheel of anxiety (and often panic) will show up.
Fix the alignment, fix the anxiety.
So get ready to LEAN IN so you can have Less Anxiety, More Life.
Here is an image that was recently posted in our facebook group with the note “Tim JP Collins I just started my fourth Anxiety Journal”
How does it work?
Being that I’m a podcaster - I made a podcast episode about the power of journaling (TAP 251 - The Ultimate Guide to Journaling) that you can listen to by clicking the button below. I introduce how journaling works overall, but if you want to skip ahead to specifically how The Anxiety Journal works, go to 11 mins in
Here is an example page, each page includes a different quote and a beautiful doodle (they were all hand drawn by Bernice a listener of The Anxiety Podcast!)
Why This Journal? Why now?
Where were you when you finally realized you needed to do something about anxiety?
I was giving a presentation to a room full of people while on a business trip to the UK. It was my first true panic attack. I forgot what I was trying to say. My throat closed. I sweat rivers. And I actually walked out of a room while a bunch of people watched me attempt to give a presentation.
If you’ve ever seen the film 8 Mile where Eminem chokes on stage and leaves then you know how I felt. That’s exactly what happened to me. It was like the most embarrassing event of my life.
I had some anxious moments in my childhood, but it picked up steam during my corporate years in my early 20s and peaked with my presentation melt down.
There were plenty of warning signs — like the time I sweat all the way through my suit during a job interview, or the time my throat closed up when my boss called me to have a simple conversation about some account detail.
Looking back now, I know I had created the perfect storm:
Lots of travel away from family
Drinking alcohol in excess and too often
Staying up late and then waking myself up with gallons of coffee
A number of years of abusing my body with bad food and little exercise
Working in a meaningless job
That night I thought about killing myself, as the shame and embarrassment of my new found anxiety started to eat away at my ego.
On return to Canada I went to the doctor, as I wanted to be FIXED immediately. I did what most everyone would do, but what I’ve come to learn is there is no quick fix to anxiety, no miracle pills or potions that make everything alright.
But I didn’t realize that yet. The doctor prescribed me anti-depressants and I dutifully took them.
My anxiety persisted. Sometimes it faded a bit and other times it surged. I went to see a psychologist to talk it out, but believe it or not I felt like I was being judged and that they didn’t really understand.
But I continued to have panic attacks at work, sometimes publicly, sometimes with my office door closed.
I was anxious all the time. It thrived because I was trying desperately to hide it.
It wasn’t until I finally started to open up and share my vulnerability that I got insight I’d never considered before.
Maybe my lifestyle was contributing to my anxiety?
I was forced to take a long look at my life and what I’d created to see if it was serving me still.
An amazing thing happened when I started leaning into my anxiety rather than running away from it. I started to get better.
Starting with meditation and exercise I got the momentum to start making bigger life shifts. There are no immediate fixes but I discovered that it was possible to live a life not controlled by anxiety.
I decided that I was not willing to cope with Anxiety. Yes it might always be in my life but it wasn’t going to run my life. I run my life now.
Do you find yourself avoiding certain situations because of your anxiety?
Are you constantly concerned about what others think of you and that in itself sets off your anxiety even more?
Do you feel like even though you’re coping with anxiety from time to time, you’re never really escaping its clutches?
If you said yes to any of these things I urge you to join me in mastering your anxiety and living a full life.
The lessons you’ll read about and the techniques you’ll practice in this journal will make a huge difference in your life. These are the exact methods I’ve used to first manage and eventually overcome anxiety in my life.
These days I still have anxious moments. Who doesn’t? But the overwhelming fear and panic is gone from my life. By using the techniques and practices in this journal you can walk the same path of an anxiety free life.
Less Anxiety. More Life.
A Guide to Your Daily Journal
The Basic Structure
The first thing you need to know is that the journal is split into two sections — morning and evening.
You will fill in the morning section the moment you wake up, and you will do the evening section just before you get snuggled into bed at night.
The Habit Trick of Champions
People get busy and it’s way too easy to forget to write in your journal every morning and evening. It will simply slip our mind unless we do this one simple trick: leave the journal on your bedside table along with a pen.
This takes advantage of the principle of association (triggers). You will begin to associate getting out of and into bed with the journal since it’s right there to remind you.
The journal only takes a couple of minutes each time, so by reminding yourself with its physical presence you’re creating a pattern in your mind that tells you, “This is easy and it works,” which will make you do it even more.
It’s vital to do this because at the beginning the journal only works subconsciously. You won’t necessarily notice how the daily practice is changing you at first, but eventually it will become obvious.
It’s so key to have an attitude of gratitude, which helps us see the best.
I’m not talking about being delusional. Being realistic is great too, but most anxiety sufferers aren’t realistic. We have an overactive fear system and tend to see dangers where none exist.
The science of positive psychology proves that we get more of what we focus on. By being grateful first thing in the morning we increase our likelihood of more of the good stuff showing up throughout the day.
When anxious we dwell on worse case scenarios, which is the opposite of gratitude. This exercise allows us to start each day with appreciation for what we have, right now.
By bringing in gratitude we crowd out many of the bad thoughts that are swimming around in our heads. We consciously choose the good.
You can have gratitude for big things like your life partner or financial stability all the way down to the little things like the nice cup of tea you’re currently enjoying (tea is often in my list).
You don’t have to choose three unique gratitude points every day, but I do ask you to sit and consider what’s coming up for you in that moment.
If you’re leaning towards something you’ve written often, think about what else is going on in your life that you can celebrate. You’ll be pleasantly surprised how the diversity adds to your growing good feeling.
Practicing regular gratitude provides enormous benefits:
Increased self esteem and confidence
Decreased anxiety, stress, tension
Stronger immune systems and lower blood pressure
Feeling less lonely and isolated
Improved physical and mental health
Makes us more social
Makes us more likely to exercise
Increases quality of sleep
Makes us more optimistic