Panic and Anxiety Attacks Journal

Panic and Anxiety Attacks Journal To Find Your Triggers

A journal is a great way to find your anxiety triggers. I have been asked many times how to start keeping a journal to be able to pinpoint causes of anxiety. It is so important that you do write down everything!

Anxiety Journal

Any little thing that you do, hear, see, eat or smell…write it all down, because it will help you find a pattern to what causes your own anxiety levels to hit all time highs.

I like to think of all our five senses as potential triggers, not just one.

We all see, hear, smell, taste and feel. Our five senses are what alerts us to danger and fear!

Stephen King, (who writes my nightmares I am sure) knows how to trigger my anxiety levels, until I feel like I am the one going to die…not just the person on screen. This is the type of example I mean about your senses being alerted, just like when you are having an anxiety attack, where your heart races, you can’t breathe, you start to sweat…

We may see or can’t see something that makes us fearful…we may smell something, touch something, hear something…I think you see what I am saying…

So if you were to start journaling to find some of your triggers and you are not sure how to set up your anxiety journal, hopefully I can help you today.

Let’s Start With The Five Senses

  • Sight – Visual disturbances, undesirable magazines, certain people, places, night-time darkness, bright lights, blood, someone being sick (the phobia Emetophobia), car accidents, reminders of an incident etc.
  • Touch – Perhaps there are material objects or people that you touch, or they touch you and your anxiety triggers are there. You may brush up against people in elevators, queues, buses etc and feel uncomfortable. You may rub or put something on your skin, like a cream or fabric. Touching things, like steel wool, can send some people running.
  • Smell – Certain scents can have your adrenaline pump or make you remember unpleasant people or times. For example, perfumes, after-shaves, air fresheners, raw meat, blood, exhaust fumes, petrols, chemicals, medicines etc.
  • Taste – Foods that have made you sick, allergies, spicy foods, coffee and caffeine drinks, soft drinks, sugary foods…there are too many to list…they are what I call ‘mood foods’.
  • Hear – Songs, especially sad ones or ones that remind you of certain people, places or events, loud noises, eerie noises, screams, different types of laughter, voices of anyone or everyone, telephone sounds, traffic, trains, planes, shopping centers etc.

I asked a few friends what they write in their journals, because every person has different triggers, so it is good to get suggestions from everyone! If anyone has anymore tips, please let me know in the comments below.

Here are a few suggestions from my friends:

  • Make sure to keep a good accurate journal so that you can figure out all your triggers, which can be sensitivities to foods, drinks, chemicals, hormonal imbalances, electrolyte imbalance, acid reflux, low blood sugar, thyroid problems, air fresheners, stress, and many more things can trigger attacks in people.
  • It can be anything you eat, drinks, caffeine, alcohol, sodas, MSG, additives, artificial anything, sometimes it is too much of one things, or a combination of things that can set off a trigger.
  • Medications, even over the counter meds, like cold medicines can trigger symptoms and sensation in sensitive people, not eating enough, or waiting too long to eat, not drinking enough water, electrolyte imbalances, hormonal changes, change in weather, high stress days.
  • It can be anything you consume, put on your skin, or breathe in.
  • Even a lack of certain vitamins and minerals, can trigger attacks. (Such as magnesium and inositol, part of the B group vitamins.)
  • Make sure to time and date everything. Some things can cause a reaction right away, and other can cause a delayed reaction from a couple of hours up until 72 hours later. (This one is one of the main reasons you need to keep a journal! Plus, it is one of the main reasons people don’t know what their triggers are…because if they didn’t write it down and it happened a couple of days ago…how would they know what was the cause of their anxiety?)

Also be aware of what is happening in the background around you. For example, a song may be playing in the background of a shopping center and you may not even be aware of it, when suddenly you will want to run for the exit!

For another one of my friends, it can be certain sounds and certain loud noises, bright lights and too much heat. They also startle easily if someone comes up behind them. Plus some smells like perfumes. Not all of them, but some make him feel unwell, such as old machine oil, benzine and thinners…all these can cause him anxiety, possibly through the inhalation of vapors.

So do you see what I mean? Any little thing, can be huge! So make sure you are ready to write down the little things, not just the big things. Any of these things can trigger anxiety attacks and many people don’t even realize, which is why keeping a journal is so helpful.

Writing In Your ‘Five Senses’ Anxiety Journal

Now to get started. Get yourself a notebook that is handy all the time. Use it to write down or record every little detail. Have fun with it or make a game of it. See what you notice around you with your five senses! What can you see, hear, smell etc? Write down the date and time too.

For example, title your page with the date. Then as you recognize a sensation, write it down with the time…

Today’s date: ___________

Time: ________

What did you see, hear, smell etc
Sensation: ______________________________

How did you feel, mildly anxious, high anxiety, full-blown anxiety attack etc.
Notes: _______________________________________


Time: ________

What did you see, hear, smell etc
Sensation: ___________________________________

How did you feel, mildly anxious, high anxiety, full-blown anxiety attack etc.
Notes: _______________________________________


…and continue throughout your day. I hope this helps you set your journal up to suit you.

Now if anyone has any more ideas or tips to help build our anxiety trigger journal, please let me know in the comments below! This is for everyone to benefit from, so please share your experiences and suggestions.

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  1. Hi Jennifer… thank you for the tips… you brought some awareness in it , ( the Five Senses Anxiety Journal …:) like the name ..)its much easier now to do..:)

    • Hi Levin,

      I’m glad you like the name, “Five Senses Anxiety Journal” name!

      I have always called it that, because although our anxiety is a mental disorder, our symptoms affect every single part of our body.

      Therefore I feel that if our body is affected, then its response can alert us to the part that triggered our fear.

      Thank you for commenting!

  2. Sylvia Bortman says

    A very good and very helpful article. I like that your article hit on the many different things that can trigger attacks, and how people can discover their triggers through journaling. Very well written!! Thank you Jennifer!! 😀

    • Hi Sylvia,

      I’m glad you liked the article…I had a lot of help from some wonderful friends…they gave me some excellent tips on what triggers their own personal anxiety attacks.

      Thank you for letting me know and I will let them know you thought it was very helpful too!

  3. Jennifer, I used to have a ocd journel. Maybe I should start writing in it again…..

    • Hi Lauren,

      It’s so good to see you visiting me here! I think it would be a great idea for you to start writing in your journal again. I already know that some days you feel really happy in control…and other days are not so good.

      Therefore writing in your journal will show you why you don’t feel so good on those days and why some days you can cope so much better.

      I would love you to be able to tell me you have started writing again in your journal. 🙂

  4. Definitely need help controlling anxiety! Is bringing me down as I suspect is depleting my Dopamine levels. Lab test all come normal… Help:(

    • Jennifer Johnson says

      Hi Jesse, if you expect it is your dopamine levels…even if the test showed differently…you are the best judge! You can do something about helping yourself, so please don’t despair.

      There are ways you can raise your dopamine levels naturally…lovely long, relaxing walks is one of the best ones!

      When you feel anxious try getting outside and start walking and breathing deeply and think beautiful thoughts when you do!!!

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About Jennifer Johnson

I suffered with social anxiety and stress for years. I discovered what my triggers were and learned to control them. Hopefully some of the natural anxiety relief techniques I have tried, will also be your solution.