Stress Diaries are useful for understanding
the causes of short-term stress in your
life. They also give you an insight into
how you react to stress.
The idea behind Stress Diaries
is that on a regular basis you write down
how stressed you're feeling, so that you
can understand 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
As well as helping you capture and understand
the most common sources of stress in your
life, Stress Diaries help you to understand:
- The causes of stress in more detail;
- How you react to stress, and whether
your reactions are appropriate and useful.
Using the Tool:
Stress Diaries are useful in that they gather
information regularly and routinely, over
a period of time. This helps you to separate
the common, routine stresses from those
that only occur occasionally. This helps
you understand the pattern of stress in
To use the tool, download and use this
Excel template or use this web-based
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 each incident that is stressful enough
for you to feel that it is important.
Every time you make an entry, record the
- The date and time of the entry.
- How happy you feel now, on a scale of
-10 (the most unhappy you have ever been)
to +10 (the happiest you have been). As
well as this, write down the mood you
- How stressed you feel now, again on
a subjective scale of 0 to 10. As before,
0 here would be the most relaxed you have
ever been, while 10 would show the greatest
stress you have ever experienced.
- The most recent stressful event you
- The symptom you feel (e.g. “butterflies
in your stomach”, anger, headache,
raised pulse rate, sweaty palms, etc.)
- The fundamental cause of the stress
(being as honest and objective as possible)
- If you're recording an event, how well
did you handleit: Did your reaction help
solve the problem, or did it inflame it?
You will reap the real benefits of having
a stress diary in the first few weeks. After
this, the benefit you get will reduce each
If, however, your lifestyle changes, or
you begin to suffer from stress again in
the future, then it may be worth using the
diary approach again. You will probably
find that the stresses you face have changed.
If this is the case, then keeping a diary
again will help you to develop a different
approach to deal with them..
Analyzing the Diary
After two weeks, take the time to look through
your diary in detail:
- First, look at the different stresses
you experienced. Pick out the stresses
you experienced most frequently, and write
them out in order.
Next, prepare a second list with the
most unpleasant stresses at the top
of the list and the least unpleasant
at the bottom.
Looking at your lists of stresses,
those at the top of each list are the
most important for you to learn to control.
planning tool helps you plan how
to deal with these stresses, and how
to identify the techniques that are
most effective for managing them.
Working through the stresses, look
at their underlying causes, and your
appraisal of how well you handled the
stressful events. Do these show you
areas where you handled stress poorly,
and could improve your stress management
skills? If so, list these.
- Next, look through your diary at the
situations that cause you stress. List
these (this site also helps
you prepare for these situations so
that you can manage stress effectively).
- Finally, look at how you felt when
you were under stress. Look at how it
affected your happiness and your efficiency,
understand how you behaved, and think
about how you felt. The section on Reducing
Stress with Rational Thinking will
show you how to improve your mood and
manage your emotions.
Having worked through your diary, you should
understand more fully what the most important
and frequent sources of stress are in your
life. You should appreciate the levels of
stress at which you are happiest. And you
should also know the sort of situations
that cause you stress so that you can prepare
for them and manage them well.
You should also have more of an understanding
about how you react to stress, and the symptoms
that you show when you are stressed. When
you experience these symptoms in the future,
learn to use appropriate stress management
The next tool, the Stress
Key, helps you identify the stress management
techniques that are most appropriate for
managing these stresses.
However, remember how dangerous stress
can be. Do pay attention to the warning
at the foot of this page: If you have any
concerns over stress-related illness or
are persistently unhappy as a result of
stress, you need to see your doctor.
Stress Diaries help you to get a good understanding
of the routine, short-term stresses that
you experience in your life. They help you
to 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 help you to understand
the levels of stress at which you are happiest,
and most efficient.
To keep a stress diary, make an entry on
a sheet like the
one shown on a regular basis. For example,
you may do this every hour. Also make entries
after stressful events.
After, say, two weeks, use 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.
You can then use the Stress
Key to find helpful stress management
techniques, and then plan
a stress management program.Your Stress
Diary also provides important information
for the next technique, Stress
article explains Stress SWOT...