The information you fill out on the stress log is for you. It is important to be as honest and accurate as possible. Download and print out several copies of this Stress Diary.
A stress diary can be a valuable stress management tool in learning to cope with stress. A stress diary monitors your stress levels and gives you an objective view on the cause of your stress and how you can deal with it.
The old adage that "you can’t solve a problem until you identify it" is also true of stress management.
By keeping a record and monitoring your stress.... you enhance your awareness in at least four important ways:
You identify the main causes of your stress
You identify the symptoms of your stress
You identify how you currently react to stress
You gather important baseline information which allows you to develop stress management techniques.
Initially, when I monitored my stress in a diary... I thought that it would be time consuming and yield little value...I thought I already knew what was stressing me out and how I reacted!
...BUT I was amazed at just what I did find out and it only took me a few minutes each day to fill out my stress diary!
My clients also realize when they monitor and record their stress... it is an valuable tool that raises their awareness of what is stressing them out and helps them to set stress management goals.
Time of day. Include the time of day you are feeling stressed. Be conscientious about this. I find it useful to carry a copy of this stress sheet with me and record in the diary just after the event.
Intensity of stress. Rate from 1 (very little stress) to 10 (extreme stress).
What was the situation. Identify the situation causing your stress. Try to be as accurate as you can. Was it the annoying comment from a coworker or were you stuck in a traffic jam?
What was the preceding event. Perhaps you woke up late, you are late to a meeting, or have an impending deadline - and you just didn't need that traffic jam or the annoying comment from your co-worker. Sometimes the preceding cause (rather than the actual situation - e.g. the annoying comment) can be the "straw that breaks the camel's back".
Remember that stress is often how the situation is perceived, so if you can, attempt to identify the thoughts underlying the stressful situation or preceding event.
What were your symptoms. Was your heart racing, did your breathing speed up, or perhaps you got a tension headache? These are exampes of some physical symptoms of stress. You may notice your are having difficulty concentrating, or you are adopting a more negative outlook and feel more anxious and fearful. These are some of the psychological and emotional symptoms of stress.
How did you respond. Here you can describe how you responded. For example, did you react to the annoying comment from the co-worker or see the situation as an opportunity to practice your breathing exercises? How are you currently coping with each of these stress issues?
How effective was your response. Here it is important to rate from 1 ("not effective at all") to 10 ("extremely effective"). This rating will give you an idea of whether you want to improve on the way you react to stress.
Rate your mood now. At the time of the stressful situation and immediately after your response to it, rate your mood from 1 ("not a good mood at all") to 10 ("a very good mood")