Tuesday, January 11, 2011

How to Use a Stress Journal and 5 Tips for Stress Management

We all know that stress can be a negative influence. But sometimes it can feel like there is nothing we can do about our stress level. Not true! There will always be more to do, more decisions to make, and more situations to mediate, but---how we manage our stress is something we can control.

The trick is to be proactive. To be proactive we have to take charge of what we can control (our environment, our attitude, our thoughts, our choices) and stop worrying about what is out of our control. In other words, balance. The long-term goal is to create balance in our life (balance between work, home, and relaxation) so that when stressful situations arise, we are better equipped to mediate and neutralize them.

To create balance, we must first know what causes us stress. Simple, we know. Yet, many people know what it feels like when they are already stressed out but cannot identify how they got stressed out, the actual trigger. One tool you can use to identify what causes you to stress out and why is a stress journal.

Like a food journal, a stress journal helps you to look at your habits and your choices. It does not need to be fancy. A simple notebook will work. Every time you feel stressed, write it down in your journal. Include the date, what you feel caused the stress, how you felt, how you responded, and whether or not you felt better.

Then at the end of every week or month (whatever time period you set for yourself), review your journal. Over time patterns will emerge: patterns in your stress triggers and in your response. If how you are dealing with stress no longer works for you, it is time to try some healthier strategies. Document these in your stress journal, too, and take note of when you start to feel better.

Here are 5 tips for stress management:
  1. Simplify your to-do list.
  2. Express your feelings as they arise.
  3. Adjust your expectations and focus on the positive.
  4. Let go of what you cannot control.
  5. Relax—take an aromatherapy bath, enjoy a fresh mug of herbal tea, go for a walk, laugh.

For more health and wellness tips, download the ACHS Wellness Guide HERE.

For current studies on the use of complementary alternative medicine (such as herbs) with stress, visit the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine website HERE.

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