Log your stress events.
Whether stress is caused by rush-hour traffic, a heavy workload, difficult customers, or unpleasant news, many of us experience it in some form during the day. The problem is that if stress goes unchecked, it can affect our productivity and, worse still, our health.
This is where keeping a Stress Diary can be useful. Stress Diaries are important for understanding the causes of short-term stress in your life. They also give you an important insight into how you react to stress, and they help you to identify the levels of pressure at which you prefer to operate. (After all, a little bit of pressure can be a good thing!)
The idea behind Stress Diaries is that, on a regular basis, you record information about the stresses you're experiencing, so that you can analyze these stresses and then manage them. This is important because often these stresses flit in and out of our minds without getting the attention and focus that they deserve.
As well as helping you capture and analyze the most common sources of stress in your life, Stress Diaries help you to understand:
To get started, download our free Stress Diary template and make regular entries in your Stress Diary (for example, every hour). If you have any difficulty remembering to do this, set an alarm to remind you to make your next diary entry.
Also, make an entry in your diary after any stressful incidents.
Every time you make an entry, record the following information:
You may also want to note:
Once you've kept a Stress Diary for a number of days, you can analyze it and take action on it:
Having analyzed your diary, you should fully understand what the most important and frequent sources of stress are in your life, and you should appreciate the levels of pressure at which you are happiest. You should also know the sort of situations that cause you stress, so that you can prepare for them and manage them well.
You'll reap the real benefits of having a Stress Diary in the first few weeks that you use it. After this, you may find that you have better uses for your time.
If, however, your lifestyle changes, or you begin to suffer from stress again, then it may be worth using the diary approach one more time. You'll probably find that the stresses you face have changed.
Your next step is to get your stress under control.
Start by looking at the people and events that cause the most stress for you.
Some stresses will be unavoidable, especially if you're in a job with lots of responsibility. Our article on Cognitive Restructuring can help you to reduce stress by changing the way that you think about things.
Stress can cause severe health problems and, in extreme cases, can cause death. While these stress management techniques have been shown to have a positive effect on reducing stress, they are for guidance only. Seek the advice of a qualified health professional if you have any concerns over stress-related illnesses, or if stress is causing significant or persistent unhappiness.
Stress Diaries help you to get a good understanding of the routine, short-term stresses that you experience in your life. Using them, you can identify the most important, and most frequent, stresses that you experience, so that you can concentrate your efforts on these. They also help you to identify areas where you need to improve your stress management skills, and let you to understand the levels of stress at which you are happiest, and most effective.
To keep a Stress Diary, download our worksheet and make a regular diary entry, for example, every hour. Also make entries after stressful events.
Analyze the diary to identify the most frequent and most serious stresses that you experience. Use it also to identify areas where you can improve your management of stress.
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