Everyone stresses out about something every now and again, but do you stress out about the same things over and over? If you do it’s probably a pattern that’s hard to break. One of my most productive tools was a stress journal. I documented everything that kept stressing me out. If my mom called complaining about her health I would write it down. If my boss piled a bunch of work on me I would write it down. I skewed a lot of my memories to fit my needs. I wrote everything down so I wouldn’t forget. I wanted to remember how I felt in every stressful situation down to all the tiny little details. This required me to be as honest as possible so I could learn to improve my emotional state.
As the months passed I began to see patterns in my stress. I became stressed out when I was driving (especially my commute to and from work), when I felt work was unfair, when I was late to a meeting or a doctor’s appointment, during a tense sporting event, while watching a high energy movie, and at social parties such as Christmas work gatherings.
Instead of resigning myself to feeling stressed out in these situations I began working with my relaxation skills. Whenever a technique was successful, I documented how it worked and how it helped me release my stress and stay relaxed. When my jaw tightened during a stressful project I reminded myself to relax and massaged my jaw for ten seconds. I did this over and over again until it started setting in. Eventually I stopped tightening my jaw and began to feel relaxed during even the most stressful moments. When I got saddled with extra work, my brow would normally furrow. When I recognized this reaction I focused on taking deep breaths in and out to calm myself down. I made a plan to help organize my situation get everything done or I talked to my boss about needing help. I learned to cut the stress off before it piled up too strong and overwhelmed me.
Using a stress journal can help you obtain a better understanding of what stress you out, but it doesn’t keep the stress away. You must do that by working with your emotions. Take the time to notice what causes your stress, then apply the stress relieving techniques that work best for you.