🔹 Strategy #0:
Before you read this article, please first check:
- Use Anxiety Journaling to Pirouette with Your Fears (Part 1)
- Anxiety Journal: Your Key to Basking in A Rip-Roaring Life (Part 2)
Caught up? Awesome! Let’s dive in 🙂.
The steps below will help relieve the stress you’ve built up inside. But they’ll also assist you in working through the oodles of anxious feelings that are making you nuts.
Your anxiety journal can prove to be quite a powerful tool. Especially when it comes to identifying the root cause of your anxiety. Writing down helps you examine what’s going on in your mind. It allows you to shift your ruminative thoughts and start taking proper actions.
🔹 Case scenario:
👉 Say ‘Hello’ to Shanice (real client, name changed):
Shari: “How would you describe YOUR anxiety issues?”
Shanice: “I’ve always been stressed for the littlest things. But this whole anxiety thing is new to me. Like, I can be super fine one second and drowning in sweat the next.”
Shari: “What kind of thoughts trigger anxiety for you?”
Shanice: “Hmm, I’d say that I’m excessively apprehensive and worried for no apparent reason.”
Shari: “Have you noticed any physical changes since you started being anxious?”
Shanice: “I lose SO much hair that I’m afraid to comb my hair now. I took on so much weight that my colleagues asked me if I was pregnant. I also noticed excessive hair in unusual places such as on my chin and below my navel.”
Shari: “Have you addressed the issue so far? If so, how?”
Shanice: “Yes, and I came across countless techniques. I tried them all. Mindfulness. Adopting a healthy diet and lifestyle. Daily exercising. Therapy. You name it. And yet, nothing worked.”
Shari: “What would your perfect solution look like?”
Shanice: “I’m looking for a solution that won’t break the bank. Anything to help me get rid of the horrible feelings wreaking havoc in my stomach. Feelings of despair and hopelessness. All I want is to be reunited with my past life. Feel serene again. And think crystal clear at all times.”
So, how can we help Shanice? 🤔
🔹 Anxiety journal strategy #1:
Step 1: When filling in your anxiety journal, picture yourself in front of a therapist. What would you tell them?
Step 2: Go back to all the times you felt sickeningly anxious. Then, pick one scenario and start digging.
- How did you feel in that particular moment?
- What thoughts were rumbling inside your mind?
Step 3: Once you’ve obtained answers, try to brainstorm some solutions.
Step 4: Come up with an action plan.
🔹 Strategy #2: Follow the steps below whenever you’re having an anxiety attack (or as soon as possible)
Step 1: Sit down and write about your anxiety for 5 to 15 minutes.
- What’s on your mind?
- What’s perturbing you?
- What are your concerns?
Keep journaling until you’ve got everything out of your system. But don’t delve into a state of rumination.
You can do this on your laptop, in an anxiety journal or in a notepad. If you choose to write in a notepad, leave three lines after each of your sentences.
Step 2: Often times when doing anxiety journaling, you’ll realize that what’s stressing you isn’t what’s happening right now. Rather it’s what’s gonna happen next.
- What’s happening right now? Go into as many details as you can.
- What are the events that are affecting you in this present moment?
- What are you afraid of? Make a list of all your fears no matter how insignificant they may seem.
- For each of your fears, what do you think will happen next? And what do you dread will happen afterwards?
- How will all of this affect you?
Now that you’ve ‘Marie Kondoed’ your thoughts, let’s move to the next step 😉.
Step 3: Re-read what you jotted down. Now, reprocess it.
- Can things be different?
- What can you do to transform your present into a better one?
- What can you do to positively transform your thoughts about your present?
Go back to your fear of what you think is coming up next.
- Is it rational?
- Do you genuinely have to be concerned about it?
- What’s the probability of it happening?
- How can you be sure of that?
- If what you’re afraid of happens, is there any chance that it’ll be less dreadful than what you’ve imagined?
- Can it be a neutral or positive event?
- Can you do something to create a better end result?
Anxiety journal strategy #2 (cont.):
Step 4: After tackling your anxious thoughts one by one, you’ll see that it’s improbable for what you’ve imagined to happen. And that these thoughts aren’t as terrifying as you thought they were.
For each of your fears:
- Find one or more different ways of thinking about it.
- Generate a completely different story.
- Come up with a new list of probabilities. Place them next to the fears.
Step 5: Remember previous challenges and how you faced them. This will help you accept the present moment in which you are. But also renew your faith in the fact that you’re strong enough to handle what comes your way. This will boost you to continue and, who knows, you may even discover that you possess hidden strengths 😉.
Take a look at what you think may happen.
- What are the challenges that you faced and successfully overcame?
- What are the hard times in your life which you tackled with strength and wisdom?
- Can your possible challenge be overcome in the same way?
- What can you learn from these positive events?
Now, for one minute, assume that what you’re afraid of, does happen.
- How will you react?
- What are the resources that you’ll use?
- How will you proceed?
Obtaining answers to these questions allows you to let go of future fears. When you know that you’ll be able to deal with whatever’s gonna happen, your mind will calm down. And it’ll stop generating worst-case scenarios.
Step 6: Draw 4 columns in your journal. Name them:
- Day and date.
- What’s happening?
- What am I saying to myself?
- How tensed and anxious am I right now? (On a scale of 0 to 10, with ‘0’ being completely Zen and ‘10’ drowning in anxiety and worries. Also, describe in detail how you’re feeling.)