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Stress Diary



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Maintaining a stress diary is an effective way of discovering:

  • The plausible sources of stress existing in your microcosm

  • Your personalized optimum stress bracket 

  • Possible techniques of staying in the optimum bracket

In this diary note down your stress levels and how you feel throughout the day. In particular, note down stressful events. But before starting with your stress diary, you must must be able to clearly identify the situations in life that make you stressed and tense (your stressors). To identify these stressors, become more aware of your body in different situations. Ask yourself, "Does this person, place, or thing...

  • Make my muscles tense?
  • Make my heart pound?
  • Make my hands cold and clammy?
  • Give me a 'knot' in my stomach
  • Give me a headache?
  • Give me a backache?
  • Make me sweat?
  • Cause me to break out in a rash?"

Awareness to the above list would make it easier for you to score your stress on a scale of 1 to 10. Now go ahead and record the following information:

  • At a regular interval, for example every  four hours, record routine stress. Note down:
    1. the time
    2. the amount of stress that you feel (on a scale of 1 to 10)
    3. how happy you feel (on a scale of 1 to 10)
    4. whether you are enjoying your work (on a scale of 1 to 10)
    5. how efficiently you are working (on a scale of 1 to 10)
  • When stressful events occur, write down:
    1. What the event was
    2. When and where did it occur?
    3. What important factors made the event stressful?
    4. How stressful was the event?
    5. How did you handle the event?
    6. Did you tackle the cause or the symptom?
    7. Did you deal with the stress correctly?

After a few weeks you should be able to analyze this information. It may be interesting as you carry out the analysis to note down the outcomes of the jobs you were doing when you were under stress.

This should give you two types of information:

1.   You should be able to understand the level of stress that brings out the best in you in other words the amount of pressure you are happiest with, and the level of stress at which you work most effectively. 

2.  You should know what the main sources of unpleasant stress in your life are. You should understand what circumstances make the stresses particularly unpleasant, and should begin to understand whether your strategies for handling the stresses are effective or not.

Thus to summarize, managing stress involves making a concerted effort to avoid the stressors that you have already identified. If that's not realistically possible, take steps to lessen their effect on you (i.e., neutralize them). Learning to relax in the face of your stressors may be your most valuable weapon. Give yourself a break. Walk and talk more slowly. Give yourself time to meet deadlines and complete your work. Learning to relax takes a little practice. But it's well worth it, and soon you'll know exactly what to do to replace the stress response with the "relaxation response." Anyway these are areas that we will highlight in detail in the articles to follow. 


Next up: Over the cliff (Part I)