Journal Writing as a Tool for Coping With Panic and Anxiety

Man writing in a journal

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Journal writing is an easy and effective coping technique that can help you manage life with panic disorder. Through journaling, you can track your progress, explore your emotions, and manage your feelings of stress. Used with other treatment options for panic disorder, journal writing can be a self-help exercise that assists you on your way towards recovery.

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Hosted by Editor-in-Chief and therapist Amy Morin, LCSW, this episode of The Verywell Mind Podcast shares how to journal to build mental strength. Click below to listen now.

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What Is Journal Writing?

Journal writing, or simply journaling, is the act of writing down your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions regarding your life events. The term journal comes from a French word that means to journey or travel. Journal writing is a written record of your inner experiences of the journey of your life.

Benefits of Journal Writing

Research studies have revealed the numerous benefits of journaling. One of the most studied aspects of journal writing pertains to its healing effects. It has been determined that those who keep a journal are more likely to be connected to their emotions and problem-solving skills. Keeping a journal has also been found to help a person relieve stress, let go of negativity, refocus on gratitude, and work through difficult emotions and circumstances.

Used as a coping technique, journal writing can be a helpful way to explore your fears, manage your stress, and enhance your personal well-being. Much like talking to a trusted friend or therapist, your journal can be a way for you to openly communicate your worries, hopes, dreams, and disappointments.

Journal writing gives you the freedom to express your deep inner thoughts and emotions, making it a great tool for personal growth and development.

For people with anxiety disorders, journaling can be a way to help clear and calm the mind. Through writing, a person can release pent-up feelings, escape from everyday stressors, and let go of negative thoughts. Those with panic disorder can use a journal to explore their experiences with their condition, writing about their struggles and successes in dealing with their symptoms. Reviewing past journal entries can also bring self-awareness to your panic and anxiety triggers.

Aside from self-expression and exploration, journal writing can also be an effective way to track your progress. A journal can be used to record your experience with relaxation techniques, panic attacks, and other anxiety symptoms. For example, you may be practicing certain coping skills, such as progressive muscle relaxation, visualization, or desensitization. You can use your journal as a means to record how your technique went that day, writing down how you felt before and after you tried the technique, noting what you like or didn’t like.

Tips for Getting Started With Journaling

To get started all you need 5-10 minutes of time set aside and some type of journal. You can purchase a traditional journal or diary to write in, make your own, use your computer, or simply use a pen and paper. You may also want to consider getting creative in your journal writing and using other forms of self-expression. For example, you can incorporate drawing, poetry, quotes, photographs, painting, and other forms of artistic media into your journaling.

You might purchase a journal at the store or perhaps you’ll create your own, using paper, magazine pictures, and your writing. Maybe you will take pictures and secure them into a notebook to express your connection with the world around you. The options are endless and there are no rules to journal writing. Within the pages of your journal, allow yourself the freedom of complete self-expression.

  • Try not to censor yourself. Write down everything that comes to mind. Don’t worry about grammar and spelling.
  • Journal writing is a creative expression. Give yourself permission to openly and honestly express yourself. If you are holding back out of fear that someone may find your journal, then try to keep it in a secure place.
  • Remember that there are no rules in journal writing. You can write about your day, what you are grateful for, your hopes for the future, or anything else that appeals to you.
  • Many people chose to keep a journal that is based around a theme. For example, some people chose to keep a gratitude journal, a diary of daily events, or a panic and anxiety tracker.
  • Attempt to put aside at least 5 to 10 minutes a day for journaling. Figure out what time of day is best for you. Consider writing in the morning to get all your worries, frustrations, and hopes for the day out of your system. Write in the evening to reflect on your day.
  • Try not to view journal writing as a task. Rather, consider it an opportunity to learn about yourself, cope with your condition, and grow as an individual.
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Verywell Mind uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Pennebaker, J.W. (1997). Writing About Emotional Experiences as a Therapeutic Process. Psychological Science, 8, 162-166.

  • Pennebaker, J. W. (2004). Writing to Heal: A Guided Journal for Recovery from Trauma and Emotional Upheaval. Oakland, CA: New Harbinger.
  • Seaward, B. L. (2013). Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Wellbeing, 7th Edition. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.
  • Ullrich, P. M. & Lutgendorf, S. K. (2002). Journaling About Stressful Events: Effects of Cognitive Processing and Emotional Expression. The Society of Behavioral Medicine, 24(3), 244-250.