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Racing thoughts, constant worry, jitters — living with anxiety is no joke. But can putting pen to paper actually help ease anxiety symptoms?
Like talking out your feels during a therapy sesh, writing down your worries in a journal can be an additional tool to help anxiety.
- The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety: Daily Prompts and Practices to Find Peace
- Create Your Own Calm: A Journal for Quieting Anxiety
- The Anti-Anxiety Notebook
- Worry for Nothing: A Discreet, Guided Anxiety Journal
- I’m So Freaking Freaked Out Inner Truth Journal
- The No Worries Workbook: 124 Lists, Activities, and Prompts to Get Out of Your Head―and On with Your Life!
- 52 Lists for Calm: Journaling Inspiration for Soothing Anxiety and Creating a Peaceful Life
- A Year of Zen: A 52-Week Guided Journal
- Tiny Buddha’s Worry Journal: A Creative Way to Let Go of Anxiety and Find Peace
- Anxiety Journal Printables
- $ = under $10
- $$ = $10–$15
- $$$ = $15–$20
- $$$$ = over $20
From serious to light, clinical to irreverent, practical to spiritual. You have options that’ll vibe with your unique self and sitch.
The Mindfulness Journal for Anxiety: Daily Prompts and Practices to Find Peace by Tanya J. Peterson MS NCC
- Price: $$$
- Pros: calming colors and illustrations and short inspirational quotes
- Cons: aesthetic may not suit everyone’s style
Written by a nationally certified counselor, this book combines mindfulness exercises with writing prompts to help soothe and help you gain perspective on your anxiety. Reviewers like that the exercises are short and easy to complete.
Example prompt: “Combine movement and mindfulness for a double dose of well-being. Play your favorite music and dance, paying attention only to the music and movements of your body. Describe your experience here.”
- Price: $$$
- Pros: It works for both writing and artistic expression.
- Cons: Art and quotes take up a lot of real estate in the small 128-page book. It’s also not written by a therapist.
This option will appeal to the creative-minded or anyone looking for a pretty book to record their darkest fears. Created by an artist, this book has a soothing vibe and emphasizes self-acceptance. One review called it “a hug you can give yourself over and over.”
Example prompt: “Think about a difficulty you’re currently experiencing. What is the light in this situation?”
- Price: $$$$
- Pros: includes 100 “Notes from a Therapist,” is a chunky 270 pages
- Cons: pricey, clinical, textbook-like
Reviewers like this notebook’s science-based approach that uses mental health tools like cognitive behavioral therapy. Prompts include structured questions that help you break down your anxieties, while free space allows you to expand or reflect. Writing in it can almost feel like a therapy session in book form.
Example prompt: “What happened? What is going through your mind? What emotions are you feeling?”
- Price: $$$
- Pros: discreet look and quality construction
- Cons: basic black design isn’t very inspiring
This is another journal that uses techniques based on cognitive behavioral therapy. Reviewers like its high quality and that the solid black cover doesn’t draw attention to your business. Prompts guide you to articulate what happened, be aware of how you feel and think about it, analyze evidence for and against your thoughts, and adjust your thinking.
Example prompt: “What evidence supports that thought? What about evidence that contradicts it? Got it. Let’s try writing down an alternative thought.”
- Price: $$
- Pros: low price and comes in two sizes
- Cons: no tools for analyzing or changing your thoughts
This journal is more like a BFF who listens rather than a paper therapist. It’s a place for brain dumps and tracking anxiety with some cheeky motivational quotes throughout. Users like the colorful design and funny quotes.
Example prompt: “Why I’m so freaking freaked out today:” followed by a lined blank page and a rating scale for your anxiety level.
The No Worries Workbook: 124 Lists, Activities, and Prompts to Get Out of Your Head―and On with Your Life! by Molly Burford
- Price: $$$
- Pros: fun, many creative angles to counteract anxiety
- Cons: kind of childish, doesn’t tackle any juicy psychology techniques
This book has so 👏 many 👏 activities 👏 (124 to be exact). It’s like a collection of things your besties might employ to help cheer you up or take your mind off worries. Users say it’s lighthearted, easy to use, and distracts them from their anxieties.
Example prompts: “Make an Anti-Worry Playlist” and “Color your way to calm: Mandala”
52 Lists for Calm: Journaling Inspiration for Soothing Anxiety and Creating a Peaceful Life by Moorea Seal
- Price: $$$
- Pros: meditation and activity tips accompany journaling, personalized collection of anxiety-busters to return to when complete
- Cons: no lay-flat binding, overall positive outlook but may not target your specific anxiety triggers
The prompts remind you of things that are calming, peaceful, or positive. It also contains plenty of mental health resources and a section on how to find a therapist. Users like that it’s pretty, and the exercises redirect negative thinking.
Example prompts: “List the things you are most proud of overcoming” and “List the things you can touch that are physically calming to you.”
- Price: $$
- Pros: appeals to the philosophical and poetic, includes a year of prompts
- Cons: long commitment, small writing spaces, not everyone jibes with Zen philosophy
This journal was created by a Zen priest (yes, that’s a thing) who has taught Zen journaling retreats for years. The writing prompts range from playful to more thought-provoking, and include questions related to meditation, spiritual texts, work, art, and the world. It also incorporates seasonal shifts, which could be useful if there’s a seasonal pattern to your anxiety.
Example prompt: “Amazingly, we can forget to just breathe. Have you caught yourself ‘holding your breath’ in a tense situation, exactly when a breath would help you relax?”
- Price: $$$$
- Pros: hardcover, coloring pages, doodle prompts
- Cons: “Tiny Buddha” is a bit of a misnomer since Buddhism is not really involved.
This journal has a variety of prompts that users find relaxing that help promote mindfulness and ease anxieties. “Let it Go” pages help you work through specific worries and coloring pages can help you relax in the moment. Reviewers especially love the doodle prompts and the hardcover design that won’t fall apart from daily use.
Example prompts: “Today instead of worrying about what could go wrong, I’m going to focus on what could go right, including…”
- Price: $
- Pros: low cost, customizable, can use in your own planner or journal
- Cons: mostly habit trackers to support mental and physical health, have to print it yourself
For just a few bucks you get more than 90 PDF pages to print what you need. You can also use it as a digital journal. If you like habit tracking, these pages have bullet journaling vibes with pages to track what makes you stressed or angry, a section for therapy notes, and a “feeling wheel” to track your mood.
Example prompts: “What would your ideal day look like?” and “What things make me feel stressed?”
Consider these features when deciding if an anxiety journal is a good match.
- Style. Does the look and feel of it make you feel happy or relaxed?
- Size. Will it be easy to incorporate into your routine, does it fit in your bag?
- Length/writing space. Do you need lots of blank space or prefer the lower pressure of short journaling spaces. Are you intimidated by 100+ entries to fill out?
- Other resources. Does it align with your interests or other therapeutic tools, like art, CBT, humor, or education material from therapists?
A journaling practice is individual, so you will have to find what works best for you. Consider these tips to get started:
- Make it easy. Keep your journal, pen, and other supplies where you’re most likely to use them. Try next to your bed for nighttime journaling or in your bag if you get anxious when you leave the house.
- Be flexible. Your journal is not a homework assignment, you can’t get it wrong. Do what feels right and give yourself some slack while you build up this new tool.
- Tie it to something pleasurable. Put on calming music, do a breathing exercise before you start, or reward yourself after journaling.
- Don’t censor yourself. No one else ever has to see your journal. In fact, researchers noted in a 2022 review they saw greater benefit in study participants who kept their journals private.
Using an anxiety journal is relatively easy, accessible to most people, and a small investment. At the surface journaling is a tool that can help you:
- practice tools you learn in cognitive behavioral therapy
- record patterns in the intensity of your anxiety and recurring triggers
- slow your thoughts
- gain perspective to see if the cause of your anxiety is as dangerous, insurmountable, or rooted in evidence as it feels
- recognize physical symptoms of anxiety and practice relaxation techniques
- track the efficacy of medications and coping mechanisms
- divert mental energy into a creative activity
There’s also little to no risk to trying it and research suggests journaling may help ease anxiety, but we need more high quality research to prove it. Still, here is what research has shown.
- Less stress and better well-being. In a 12-week study, participants with medical conditions and anxiety completed web-based journaling for 15 minutes, 3 times a week. Researchers found journaling was associated with lower mental distress, increased well-being, and greater resilience.
- Lower performance anxiety. A 2020 study also showed that completing a 10-minute writing activity lowered performance anxiety in musicians.
- Less nighttime anxiety. In a 2019 study of young adults, researchers compared the effect of two 5-minute writing assignments before going to bed: making a to-do list vs. journaling about previously completed tasks. Those who wrote to-do lists fell asleep faster (presumably an effect of writing down worry-provoking thoughts).
Journaling may be a way to support other anxiety treatments or improve how you feel when worries are taking over your life. Just note that journaling is not a substitute for professional mental healthcare.
But it is a low cost and low risk way to learn coping strategies, work through your anxious thoughts, and practice mindfulness and relaxation techniques.