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High Functioning Depression

How To Create a Sensory Vision Board: Dr. Judith’s Golden Nuggets

A man sitting by a large window, looking out at a vast cityscape with skyscrapers and a river under an overcast sky. the scene conveys a sense of peaceful contemplation.

With the start of a new year, I’ve been posting a lot about my success and achievements in 2023. But with the highs come lows and I wanted to share a time in my life when I had a lot of anxiety about failing and about how others perceived me.

I was a junior at Duke University and was taking the MCAT exams to get in to medical school. I struggled with social anxiety and a fear of failure all throughout college.

When the MCAT finished, I was obviously relieved to have gotten it over with— that feeling didn’t last long though. The instructor announced that we could void the exam if we felt that they didn’t do well and that it wouldn’t count towards our admissions to medical school.

I knew deep down I did well on the exam, but my high functioning depression allowed self doubt to creep in. The option for a “do-over” ultimately led me to have a massive panic attack.

I felt hot, sick, shaky, and was on the verge of fainting.

At the time, I had never been in therapy, so I had no idea that this was a symptom of panic disorder.

So, I walked up to the front of the room, whispered to the examiner that I wanted the test voided, went back to my dorm, and cried.  

Now don’t feel bad for me— clearly I re-took the exam and went to Columbia’s medical school. But had I known what I know now, after years of my own therapy, working as a therapist and researching mental health conditions, I could have saved myself a lot of anguish and studying for a second exam.


Did you know that anxiety affects all 5 senses? That’s why panic disorder has so many physical symptoms that feel like a medical emergency. Vision can be blurred, sensations like tingling can occur, there can be ringing in ears, smells can be heightened, and mouths can become dry.

For this Golden Nugget, you will need materials to stimulate all 5 senses that are themed towards one thing in your future that makes you anxious. You want to exposure your brain gradually for 5 minutes a day to something that gives you anticipatory anxiety.

I’ll share a personal example with you: I have a podcast recording coming up with someone who is very well known. I’m both excited and anxious about it, so here’s a peek at some components of my sensory vision board.  

  • Sight: I added photos of myself and the host on my vision board— I’ve met her before, so that helps!
  • Touch: I have a furry purse that I travel to all appearances with because the soft texture comforts me.
  • Sound: I’ve listened to this host’s podcast daily in preparation for our conversation.
  • Smell: I will wear my favorite Byredo body spray to cover stress sweat and reminds me of fond memories.
  • Taste: I will carry dark chocolate in my purse to serve as an antioxidant that keeps my mouth moist.

Let me know if you create your own sensory vision board!

Disclaimer: The information provided here is for educational purposes only and does not replace professional medical advice. Always consult a qualified healthcare provider for personalized guidance. Dr. Judith Joseph does not endorse specific products or treatments mentioned in this content. Use this information at your own discretion.


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