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How to Track Your Stress

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Topic Overview

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
Time Stressful event Reaction (symptoms, thoughts, behaviors) Coping response

7:30

Kids not getting ready for school

Felt tightness in stomach, yelled at them

Had a doughnut when I got to work

9:30

Late for meeting with supervisor

Tight stomach, fear about performance review

Talked with Janet about it and felt better

11:00

Copier broke down again

Headache, snapped at Bill to call repair person

Not sure

3:15

Call from sister about her divorce interrupted my work

Headache got worse

Daydreamed about trip to Hawaii

5:30

Meeting ran overtime, couldn't leave at 5:00

Headache still there, neck begins to ache

Went out for a few drinks with coworkers

  • 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.

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WebMD Medical Reference from Healthwise

Last Updated: May 03, 2013
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a doctor. Healthwise disclaims any liability for the decisions you make based on this information.
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