Step 2 – Identifying your stressors

Welcome to the Stress Management Blueprint!

This is a 5 step online course, on how to deal with stress in your life. The course is designed as a series of blog posts, regularly posted to our site. These blog posts will teach you all the steps necessary to actively start dealing with your stress, and live a less stressful life.

By explaining the core concepts of stress, the problems it may carry, and how to best address them, you will be guided through the different steps that you need to know, to effectively learn to reduce the stress you’re feeling in your life.

This is step 2 out of 5 in a series of blogposts designed to guide you through how you best deal with stress. For the other parts of the series, see (these will get updated as they are posted):

Step 2. Identifying your stressors

In this, the second step of the stress management blueprint, we are going to engage the topic of identifying your stressors. This will include, first of all how you find your stressors, the different kinds of stressors, and how you best deal with the problem once you have discovered what it is. This might seem easy at first glance, you know why you’re stressed, right? But frankly, not everyone does, and there are often small things adding to a bigger picture of stress, that you might not first think of when you’re considering your situation. That’s why it’s so important to first off identify what the actual problem is, in order to realize how to best deal with it. This is the first practical step in all stress management, something you need to do before you begin. So we’re going to guide you through how to do this.


How to find your stressors

What you need to do in order to find your stressor, is to really scrutinize your life. Sounds hard? It doesn’t have to be. Going through every single day, thinking of what might affect you in what particular situation sure sounds like a chore, but it’s not that straining if you know how to do it. A very simple, and easy way to do this, is to start what’s called a stress journal. This is very similar to a normal journal, or diary, you just constantly keep track of your life and the events in it, but focus on stress. So when you feel that you have some stress coming on, you pick up the journal, and write an entry (or potentially afterwards, if the stress is related to a situation you need to deal with immediately). You should write down the following things:

  • How am I feeling right now?
  • What situation am I in? What’s happening right now?
  • How stressed am I on a scale of 1-10?
  • What do I think is causing my stress?

Then just keep this routine up throughout the week, without lending it more thought. The point is, to take some time out on a free day at the end of each week, and go through this journal and look for patterns. You might come to find some common denominators, for instance, if you’re often stressed at work, or when around a particular person, then maybe that’s a good clue for you. This will also give you some ideas of when you are the most stressed, so you know what is most important to address.

Example #1 of entry in a stress journal

How am I feeling right now?

I’m feeling very overwhelmed and upset, like I don’t have enough time to do what I have to do. That the demands put on me are way more than what is reasonable for me to handle. I’m very frustrated with this.

What situation am I in? What’s happening right now?

I am at work, and I just got issued an assignment from my supervisor, of which I don’t really have the competence to handle. I’m not supposed to do this work, but I am still expected to, for no additional reward.

How stressed am I on a scale of 1-10?

I’m feeling very stressed, 7 out of 10.

What do I think is causing my stress?

That it is assumed of me to do things I have no capability of doing. Obviously they do not know what is reasonable for me to do at work, and what is not, and I feel I am not being acknowledged as a person.

Example #2 of entry in a stress journal

How am I feeling right now?

I’m a little bit tense, I’ve been worrying about some things all day. I have a huge exam coming up, but every time I sit down to focus something is coming up. People keep calling me to do things, the lanlord needs to get in to my apartment to change the lights, and my parents keep bugging me about not seeing them enough. It’s not too bad all together, but I can’t focus on my studies at all.

What situation am I in? What’s happening right now?

I am sitting in the library, in a quiet room, trying to read. But all I can do is think about the weekend, and all the things I have to do, the people I need to see. And the exam is on monday! I cringe every time my phone vibrates, knowing it’s another thing I have to take care of.

How stressed am I on a scale of 1-10?

Moderately stressed, still under control but things are becoming more annoying. Maybe 5 out of 10.

What do I think is causing my stress?

I think I have a hard time saying no to people, and try to help everyone out before I take care of my own things. Now it has gone too far, because I can’t even focus on this upcoming exam, just because of everything that is going on. I wish I could just tell people to give me some space, sometimes.

After doing this for a while, some patterns are going to emerge, and by these patterns you’re going to find some particular stressors. When you have singled these out, you are going to realize that some of these are fully up to you to change, like circumstances in your life that you have control over, whereas others are beyond your control, such as perhaps a co-worker, or a boss, and you will have to find a way of coping with this instead of removing it. Put a mark by each stressor, to note down which one you have to cope with, which one you can reduce, and which one you can remove all together. This will be used later on when planning on how to actually deal with your stress. But step one, is understanding your own problems first.

Naturally, you do not have to keep a stress journal. If you feel that you have a clear conception of your problems already, and that a stress journal would just be additional stress for you, then you can of course skip this step. It is however highly recommended, as it is such an effective tool, takes almost no time out of your week, and doesn’t cost you a dime. Even if you are very self aware, everyone misses out on some details of our lives, so outlining the patterns infront of you can really be a good idea.

Taking one step at a time is the best way to handle stress.

Goal setting – what do I do now?

Okay, so you know what stressors are bothering you. What to do next? There might be an imminent drive in you to want to fix all these things at once, or maybe a feeling of being overwhelmed when gazing at that long list of stressors. Or perhaps even feeling a lack of control over some things on the list? But do not despair, we’re going to get safely to the other side of this problem, it’s all about taking one step at a time. You’re going to have to prioritize among these stressors, some may be important to deal with before others, but we’re not going to prioritize in the fashion of doing the hardest thing first. Quite the contrary, actually. We want you to pick out one of these stressors, that seems like the easiest thing to handle, and start with this. Why? Because you need to learn that these methods actually work. Starting out easy, gives you a higher chance of success, and a faster way of dealing with things, which are going to give you a basic idea of how these methods work, as well as a little motivational boost, seeing you succeed so fast. With one less stressor to worry about, you’re going to feel better about both being less stressed, but also of actually doing something healthy and positive for yourself, so this is a good thing to start out with.

It’s important to keep in mind that dealing with stress is all about baby steps, and it’s no rush to reach the end. Creating a less stressful life should always be about long term healthy decisions, not reducing the maximal amount of stress on as short time as possible. Then you’re just creating more stress, for no reason.

Dealing with stress is not a race, but a healthy marathon.

Facilitation – how to battle your stressors

So now when we know what the problem is, dealing with your stressors is going to be alot easier. Knowing which stressors to focus on removing completely, which ones to reduce, and which ones to cope with, will also be essential for planning a strategy on how to deal with them each individually. You should keep the list of stressors for the following steps of the Stress Management Blueprint, in order to know how to apply the steps practically to yourself. Apart from this, it is recommended to continue keeping the journal, as it is such a practical tool, with so many benefits. There’s actually some scientific data that indicates that just the sheer process of keeping a journal for your stress can help reduce some of the worst tension, by giving you a good outlet for your emotions. But keep these stressors in mind, and we’re going to show you how to deal with them in the following steps. Especially how you should address different stressors, and give you the tools to reduce, remove and cope.

If you want to read more on how to identify your stressor, see this article.

Summary of the next steps

3. Learning stress management techniques. Here you’ll get an overview of what stress management techniques there are, how they work, and how you can learn and practice them.
4. Applying the appropriate techniques to your life. In this 4th step, you’ll learn what stress management techniques are right for you and what’s causing your stress.
5. How handle future stress. In this last step, we will talk about how you can make sure that you continue to actively deal with your stress, and how you can plan your future stress management so that you’ll actively work to transform your stress into something positive.

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