You may not know what is causing your stress, exactly how your body responds to stress, or how you cope with stress. To find out, keep a record to track the times you feel stressed. Write down:
- What may have triggered the stress. Guess, if you aren't sure.
- How you felt and behaved in response to the stressful situation (symptoms of stress).
- What, if anything, you did to cope with the stressful situation.
Here's a sample of what a stress record might look like.
Stress record example
Reaction (symptoms, thoughts, behaviours)
Kids not getting ready for school
Felt tightness in stomach, yelled at them
Had a doughnut when I got to work
Late for meeting with supervisor
Tight stomach, fear about performance review
Talked with Janet about it and felt better
Copier broke down again
Headache, snapped at Bill to call repair person
Call from sister about her divorce interrupted my work
Headache got worse
Daydreamed about trip to Hawaii
Meeting ran overtime, couldn't leave at 5:00
Headache still there, neck begins to ache
Went out for a few drinks with co-workers
- Look over your notes to learn how often you are feeling stressed and how you are coping.
- Ask yourself:
- Did you find that there were certain times of the day when you are more stressed? What was going on during those times?
- Were your reactions related more to thoughts, like worrying, or were they more physical, like headaches?
- Did you notice that certain people or certain situations triggered your stress?
- Which ways of coping with stress work best, and which ones don't work or have other effects you don't like?
The more notes you write down, the more you can learn about your stress patterns. Tracking your stress for 1 to 2 weeks is best. But taking notes even for 1 or 2 days can be helpful. If you are seeing a doctor or a therapist to help manage your stress, consider sharing your record with him or her. It will give your doctor important information to help you manage your stress.
Current as of: February 9, 2022
Author: Healthwise Staff
Kathleen Romito MD - Family Medicine
Donald Sproule MDCM, CCFP - Family Medicine
Adam Husney MD - Family Medicine
Steven Locke MD - Psychiatry
Christine R. Maldonado PhD - Behavioral Health