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What is a Leadership Stress Diary and Should I Keep One?

What is a Leadership Stress Diary and Should I Keep One?

What is a Leadership Stress Diary and Should I Keep One?

Definition: A stress diary is a written record of stressful events, and our reactions to them.

Whether we should keep stress diaries, depends on what we do with them.

Stress diaries can be good or bad, depending on how they are used.

Bad uses of stress diaries.

Minds respond emotionally to their own content. When people keep a stress diary, they are instructing their mind to, "Seek out, and write down all the stressors in the environment".

If stress diaries are used only to emphasise life's stresses, then diaries make people feel more stressed.

Seek and you shall find.

Whatever we pay attention to, becomes our personal experience.

If we choose to pay particular attention to flowers, then we experience a world, seemingly full of beautiful flowers.

If we pay more attention to "reasons to be cheerful", then we experience a more cheerful world.

If we pay more attention to "reasons to be stressed", then we experience a more stressful world.

So, in this sense, keeping stress diaries can cause more problems than they solve.

But there are good ways to use stress diaries.

Good use of stress diaries.

If we want to find the cure for stress, then we must find its causative factors, because if we can eliminate them, then stress is also eliminated.

Stress causative factors are to be found in the events that preceded the stress reaction. So, by keeping a careful record of events that lead-up to stress reactions, we are more able to identify the causative factors and eliminate them.

Stress diaries are a method we can use to identify stress causative factors.

This is the first step towards eliminating the causes of stress.

So, in this sense, keeping a stress diary can help us to reduce stress.

How to use a stress diary.

Stress is caused by stressors, which are subdivided into eight categories:

  1. Physical stressors: Noise, heat, cold, strong sunlight, lack of sunlight.
  2. Work stressors: Long hours, tight deadlines, bad bosses and awkward customers.
  3. Physiological stressors: Illness, injury, infection.
  4. Social stressors: Arguments, breakups, family rows.
  5. Psychological stressors: Low self-esteem, anxiety, panic attacks.
  6. Self-induced stressors: Alcohol, drug abuse, poor nutrition and sleep habits.
  7. Emotional stressors: Guilt, fear, anger, resentment, revenge.
  8. Intellectual stress: Trying to deal with too much information at the same time. 

In the front of your stress diary, write down the eight categories of stress.

Then, as you go through your day, identify, categorise and record specific instances of the eight stressors.

At the end of the week, review your records.

Ask yourself, "Which of these causes can I eliminate or at least, reduce?"

Make a list.

Then formulate an action plan and in the following week, implement your "stress reduction action plan".

For those stressors which cannot be eliminated nor reduced.

Ask yourself this question: "How can I limit the damage that these unavoidable stressors are doing to my day?"

Write down your "damage limitation plan".

In the following week, implement your plan.

Continue this process of identification, classification, evaluation and adaptive change.

Over a period of four weeks, the sum of all your efforts will reduce your stress to normal levels, and you will begin to feel terrific.

This is how to constructively use a stress diary.

I hope this information helps.

About the Author: Chris Farmer


Chris Farmer is the founder of the Corporate Coach Group and has many years’ experience in training leaders and managers, in both the public and private sectors, to achieve their organisational goals, especially during tough economic times. He is also well aware of the disciplines and problems associated with running a business.

Over the years, Chris has designed and delivered thousands of training programmes and has coached and motivated many management teams, groups and individuals. His training programmes are both structured and clear, designed to help delegates organise their thinking and, wherever necessary, to improve their techniques and skills.

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