Stress producers, or triggers, are all of those events, situations, thoughts, or habits you engage in that create a stress response. Often times people are unaware of their stress producers, focusing more on the stress response their body is having to the trigger.
To reduce your stress, the first step is to become aware of what sets you off. The most effective tool for this is a stress journal. Don’t get turned off by the word ‘journal’, it’s merely a method by which you are going to track information. Also, the tool you use to document your answers isn’t important either. What is important is that you pay close enough attention to your body and mind to answer the questions necessary to identify your stress producers. For convenience, you can download the JB Partners Stress Journal. Other options are to enter the information into a notepad application on your computer, write it down on a pad of paper, or create a voice recording with your phone.
Here are some additional tips when completing the Stress Journal:
Step 1: Understand why this is important.
It will help you:
– Narrow the causes of your stress so that you can then prioritize and manage them
– See trends to your day or week so that you can implement appropriate coping methods
– Identify your stress threshold- the imaginary line that divides productive stress levels from those levels that weigh you down
– Get to know effective coping methods for you so you can repeat them again and again
Step 2: Listen to your body.
Your body tells you when you are stressed. It might be an adrenaline rush, butterflies in your stomach, instant headache, a migraine that lasts more than 24 hours, sweaty palms, or a cold sore on your lips. All of these classic signs of stress are your body’s way of telling you something and that it’s not healthy. Trust your body to tell you what it needs and what’s happening to it.
Step 3- Document right away.
To get the most accurate data about your stress producers it’s important to complete the stress journal as close to the event as possible. The longer the duration between the event and when you write down the information, the higher chance your emotions, thoughts, and bodily reactions will be different.
Step 4- Analyze with openness.
After a week or two of journaling, take a critical look at your entries. Make sure to remove any judgement, excuses, or defensiveness you might be feeling. The true learning in a stress journal is accepting the whole you: how you think, feel, and react to stress. It’s not right or wrong, it’s facts about you so you can decide if you want to stay the same or change.
Bottom line, if you’re not willing to take this first step in reducing your stress, accept your stress and move on. It’s obviously not that bad, not holding you back, or wearing you down. This is a good thing.
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