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Keeping A Journal

How to Start and Maintain a Journal for Coping


Updated August 30, 2012

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Photo Copyright Microsoft

Keeping a journal can help you cope with life with panic disorder.

Photo © Microsoft

Journal writing can be used as a coping technique in managing panic disorder, panic attacks, and agoraphobia. Through journal writing, you can explore your thoughts, express your emotions, and work through challenging feelings. Keeping a journal can also assist you in tracking your progress with panic and anxiety symptoms. Other benefits of include stress relief, enhanced creativity, and improved problem-solving skills.

Despite the numerous positive aspects of this coping strategy, many people find it difficult to keep up with a regular schedule of journal writing. To benefit from journal writing, it is important to simply get started and keep up with your efforts. The following offers some quick tips and guidelines to help you maintain a journal to cope with panic disorder:

Determine Your Journal Writing Method

To get started, you need to pick out a journal writing method that will work best for you. When picking out your journal, think carefully about what will be the easiest for you to maintain. For example, you may decide to go the traditional route and purchase a journal to write in. There are many different journals to choose from, making it easy to pick one out in a size and style that suits you.

If you want to keep it really simple or feel overwhelmed by the many journal options, consider using simple spiral notebook or even plain filler paper. Perhaps you prefer typing into a word processing program on your computer or even speaking into a tape recorder. Regardless of what journal writing method you choose, just make sure it fits your needs.

Decide on a Journal Focus or Theme

Journal writing can take on many different themes or formats. A few that you may want to consider include:

  • Gratitude Journal: This type of journal is used to write down all of the things in your life that you are grateful for. People with anxiety disorders tend to be negative thinkers. However, no matter how difficult your current situation is, there is always something in your life to be thankful for. A gratitude journal can help you overcome your negative thinking by allowing you to spend time on gratefulness and appreciation.
  • Panic Attack Diary: A journal can be used to track your panic attack symptoms and triggers. You can also write down your experience with different coping strategies and relaxation techniques. Using a journal this way affords you the opportunity to reflect on your progress and learn what works for you when it comes to dealing with your condition.
  • Dream Journal: To get on a regular schedule of journaling in the morning, try writing down your dreams when you first wake up. Capture as much detail as you can and determine if there is a relevant “message” of your dream. Initially, you may find that your dreams don’t seem to make much sense, but over time you may notice a pattern of themes that reveal a learning opportunity that is needed in your life.

These ideas are geared to get you started on your journal writing. However, journal themes are endless and the focus of your journal may change and evolve over time. No matter what you decide to write about, the point is to get started on and stay motivated to keep up with your journal.

Schedule Your Journal Writing Time

Maintaining a journal is a lot easier if you set aside time in your schedule to journal regularly. Try journaling for at least 10 to 15 minutes each day when you won’t be disturbed. Keep your journal in a place that is easily accessible for yourself, but is safe from anyone reading it. If you get off track and miss several days, don’t that let stop you from picking back up again. When practiced on a regular basis, journal writing will quickly become a routine part of your life.


Seaward, B. L. (2011). Managing Stress: Principles and Strategies for Health and Wellbeing, 7th Edition. Burlington, MA: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

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