Since my move to North Carolina, I have been seeing a counselor on a monthly basis. Counseling is super valuable and I have learned a lot from it, including a lot about myself. One practice that I have taken from counseling is to track my anxiety. In my second session with my new counselor, she suggested that we track my anxiety feelings in a journal or on my phone—of course, I chose to write in a journal? Here are some benefits of creating your own journal.
What is anxiety journaling you might ask? Well, it’s a notebook, journal, notes app, etc. where you keep track of your anxious feelings. This can be done a million different ways. For me, as I said, I write in a cute little elephant journal. However, maybe your you, its easier to keep track on your phone. That’s entirely up to you!
I can imagine dozens of ways to track the anxiety, and it's really up to you and perhaps your therapist. I personally take note of what the feeling is about, what my thoughts are while experiencing the anxiety, the severity of it (mild, moderate, high or severe), and the date and general time of day I experienced it.
Knowledge, Awareness, and Personal Growth
One of the greatest benefits I’ve seen since I started my journal is increased knowledge. Before I had tracked my anxiety, I knew that it happened and I maybe had an idea of what generally triggered it, but I really didn’t know anything about my patterns. Since tracking I have learned that I feel a lot of my anxiety in the morning. It is also generally triggered by driving and an ability to plan for or control something, especially in advance. There were some anxiety-provoking situations that don’t follow those trends of course, but that’s okay.
Not only am I tracking my feelings of anxiety, but I am learning more about myself and becoming aware of who I am and how my anxiety influences me. Naturally, when you gain knowledge and become more aware of something, you are able to grow. I am still in the knowledge collection and awareness stage but I am beginning to see myself grow. I am more able to tell you who I am regardless of the anxiety instead of defining myself by it. What I what and who I am is becoming more clear and I become more open to myself.
I know how it may seem, overwhelming right? You already have anxiety, why do you need to worry about paying attention to it! I experience this on the occasion but mostly I have to make the choice not to worry about it. When I feel anxiety, it's not uncommon for me to not think much of it and go about my day. That’s okay, I’m used to those feelings occurring regularly and it will take a long time to build the habit of thinking about it and writing it down. It’s okay to forget sometimes.
It’s also okay if it’s not perfect. Sometimes you can’t really figure out why you are experiencing those feelings. That’s okay, write that down. Acknowledge the unknown feelings and over time you’ll become more knowledgeable and aware of its causes. This is a process and you won’t be able to do it perfectly, no one could. Just do your best.