Stress journal

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, use a journal to keep track of each time 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 journal might look like.

Stress journal 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 colleagues

  • Look over your notes to learn how often you are feeling stressed and how you are coping.
  • Ask yourself which ways of coping with stress work best and which don't work or have other effects you do not like.

The more notes you take, the more you can learn about your stress patterns. Keeping the journal for 1 to 2 weeks is best, although taking notes for even 1 or 2 days can be helpful.

Last Updated: April 22, 2009

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