Tracking your anxiety is an excellent way to find information on what causes your anxiety to appear in the first place and discover things that are making you feel better.
Keeping a daily record of your mood, symptoms, thoughts and experiences is the first step to take better care of yourself.
The very act of journaling or voice-recording how you’re feeling can relieve your anxiety along with other practises such as deep breathing, changing thinking patterns and talking to a mental health care professional.
1. Identify Your Triggers 🔎
In order to tackle your anxiety and avoid developing fear of fear it is important to identify your triggers. Once you understand them better you can learn how to deal with them and decide how to avoid or confront them in your individual circumstances. The more you know about your triggers the better you can prepare for them, building up coping skills or getting support.
Common triggers include:
- Places, things or situations associated with bad memories or traumatic events
- Health issues and health diagnosis such as a chronic illness
- Side effects of medications
- Caffeine, alcohol and drug consumption
- Unbalanced diet (skipping meals, unhealthy food, too much sugar)
- Negativity (negative thoughts and self talk)
- Financial concerns
- Health concerns
- Environmental concerns
- Social events
- Relationship problems and conflicts
- Stress and pressure (family, work, peers)
- Public speaking or performing
Keeping track of your mood and sensations on a daily basis also helps you to connect the dots: Your mood, anxiety level and symptoms are often related to events that occured during your day. You will start to see patterns and behaviours that help to clearly identify your triggers and allow you to work on your responses.
2. Identify Your Risk Factors 👀
It is not always obvious or easy to grasp what exactly causes you to have feelings of apprehension, fear or anxiousness. Many different factors are involved in contributing to the state of your mental health. It could be external factors like the people you surround yourself with, the places you go, the weather, social media and disturbing news, or internal factors such as a disbalance in your brain chemistry or your menstrual cycle.
Similarly to learning how to identify a trigger, you can start to connect the dots once you track your anxiety on a daily basis: Compare your emotional and physical sensations with the activities, places and people you engaged with during a particular day. Identifying what aspects align with negative sensations helps you determine what you can do less of. Recognizing the aspects that align with positive sensations helps you decide what you can do more of. The good thing about tracking is that it also lets you recognize when such informed changes lead to improvements and progress on your journey.
3. Take The Guesswork Out Of Therapy 💡
Tracking your anxiety does not only increase your understanding of your mental health condition but also helps your mental health provider get a more accurate image of your condition. Your therapist, psychologist, psychiatrist or your primary care physician can highly benefit from the information you collect: It will allow them to base their assessment and the selection of treatment on more granular and reliable data. In addition, your entries will allow them to trace if and how an intervention shows the desired outcome and whether they need to tweak or change them.
When seeing a therapist or counselor you can use your data to dig deeper into critical moments, get a professional evaluation and specific advice on how to deal with your emotions in each situation. Your therapist can tailor exposure exercises based on real data and teach you coping mechanisms that exactly match the challenges you encounter in between sessions.
If you are struggling to understand your mental condition and manage your symptoms, an anxiety tracker can be a game changer. At Earkick, we’ve developed an app that allows you to anonymously and effortlessly track your anxiety. It is 100% free for early members and you will not be asked for any personal data. Also, you won’t be interrupted by any ads or marketing content.
You can personalise the symptom taps, the goals, the colors and set reminders that suit your schedule. In order to effectively capture your daily experiences you can leave voice memos instead of typing. Also, get content and sessions that will help you act in the moment and build the resilience you need to overcome anxiety for good. So, if you’re ready to take control of your mental health by tracking your anxiety, feel free to download the app today!
4. How To Get Started 🚩
There are various methods for tracking anxiety. You can use pen and paper, existing templates for the computer, create your own spreadsheet, write notes in your calendar, leave voice records on your phone, or download an app.
Whatever method you select, make sure it is intuitive, easy-to-use and readily accessible to you, because you will need to stick with it for a while.
The more data you can gather in a structured and consistent way, the better and more actionable the results will be. Do panic attacks tend to happen after consuming alcohol in the evening? Do rainy, cold days coincide with mood swings? Do anxiety levels peak before your Tuesday management meeting? Knowing the answers will give you a chance to make informed decisions about what you can start changing. Actions can be as simple as scheduling a few minutes to do a breathing session right before the meeting or making your home extra cozy when the weather turns bad.
If you use an app, check whether it lets you integrate data from wearables you already have such as a smartwatch or a fitness tracker. This will allow you to connect sleep, health and activity data to your mood and symptom recordings, making your insights richer and more holistic.
2 Ways To Gather Insights 😎
There are two essential ways to track anxiety and you should use both.
1. Regular tracking: Try to make tracking a daily habit like brushing your teeth. Set a reminder to establish the habit or tie it to a habitual activity (while commuting or after dinner). The daily entry will generate a steady stream of data and surface trends and patterns. If you use a template, your entry could be:
In addition to that you should record life events, special situations, encounters and activities that you want to remember. Maybe you also did some mindfulness practice and want to track your progress and find out how it affects your condition.
A voice-recording can make that part more effortless if you do not like writing or typing.
2. In-the-moment tracking: As you sense anxiety rising, try to record the situation as accurately as possible. What time is it? Where are you? What happened right before? What do you feel? What are your thoughts? How do you react? How do you cope?
→ You can record a voice message as simple as:
“It’s 2 pm. My boss asked me to fetch copy paper from the nearby mall. Feeling nervous, nauseous, a lump in my throat. Don’t want to go into a crowded place, but I don’t want to tell my boss. Will ask someone else to go get it.”
→ Or jot down a few lines in your notebook saying:
“This morning I felt anxious after speaking with my sister about an upcoming family reunion. Now I’m feeling this tightness in my chest as always when this topic comes up. Going outside to take a few deep breaths.”
In the case of a panic attack it is particularly important to log symptoms, emotions and thoughts as timely as possible. It will allow you to learn from your data and discuss it with your therapist or relatives.
Additional information worth tracking may include any medication you take, changes in your diet, how you slept and your menstrual cycle if you are a woman.
Enough theory, now it’s time to get going! Remember that everything you feel you’re missing out on in your life is waiting on the other side of anxiety. Get your notebook out or hit the download button and make your first entry right away.
At Earkick we are building a free selfcare companion app to follow our great mission to make the world a less anxious place.