We’ve all been there. The moments when we feel in over our head—when our job, our family, our education, or our lives seem like too much to handle—when we are stressed! While stress can often times be a good response–stress keeps us alert, motivated, and energized, all too often it becomes unhealthy and counter-productive.
Stress can take a major toll on our bodies, both physically and emotionally, leaving us with the difficult task of figuring out how to manage it all. While there are many different ways to cope with stress, I have broken the arduous job into 4 easy-to-follow steps that will ultimately help you cut back on the daily anxiety that impacts your well-being. In the next 4 blog posts, I hope to walk you through the 4 steps towards becoming as stress-free as possible.
For some of you, these steps may seem tedious and possibly unnecessary, but in the end, I know your mind and your body will thank you. By following these steps, you will have the opportunity to spend your time and energy on things that truly matter, rather than building up stress and inefficiently using energy. You will wake up refreshed and go to bed without anything but the thought of potential dreams in your mind. Sound appealing? Then lets get started.
1. Identify the stressors in your life.
The first step in learning how to better manage and deal with stress is to discover what events cause the most stress in your life. While this may seem like an easy and pointless task, it may surprise you what events actually cause the particular ill feelings associated with stress. For instance, while you may think that writing papers for English class stresses you out, it may actually be that procrastinating on the paper, leaving you with a looming deadline, is what truly causes the most stress. By identifying what events trigger the stress in your life, you can better continue on the path to managing your stress. What’s the point in trying to deal with a “stressor” that, in reality, isn’t directly producing any stress? Or even more important, not coping with what is actually causing the stress!
But how can you identify the real perpetrators of your emotional sanity? A helpful and effective way of understanding what activities cause anxiety is by creating and actively maintaining a stress journal. In essence, a stress journal allows you to accurately keep track of what activities are connected to the particular emotions you feel, and how easily you cope with these situations and feelings. In this special journal, a major focus is recording your activities, tasks, goals, situations, and environments that you find yourself in throughout the day, much like a normal journal. But most importantly, in a stress journal you also record all thoughts, emotions, and feelings that you feel as the day progresses. Use the easy-to-use stress journal template to get started! Not only does this help you achieve the first step of managing stress by identifying stressors, but it also allows you to evaluate your current coping mechanisms for stress, or lack thereof. Either way, the journal will assist you in continuing onto the next steps in the stress management process.