Several reports have shown that post-secondary education can be a stressful experience for many students. This assignment is designed to provide you with a method for recording information about the stresses you’re experiencing on a daily basis, which will be a valuable tool in analyzing your personal stress patterns. This will help you to understand not only the underlying causes of your stress, but will also help you identify situations in which you operate more effectively and how you may be able to improve your stress management techniques.
Part I: Stress Journal
- Over the course of one week (seven full days), keep a detailed journal of your stress levels. Make regular entries in the journal – at least three times per day, although more frequent entries will provide more useful data – and make an additional entry after any particularly stressful incident. Each entry should include:
- The date and time of the entry
- The most stressful event you experienced since your last entry
- The physical symptoms you felt during this stressful event (e.g., anger, headache, rapid heart rate, sweaty palms, etc.)
- How you feel you handled the event
- The fundamental cause of the event (be as honest and objective as possible)
- How happy you felt at the time you recorded your entry, on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is the unhappiest you’ve ever felt and 10 is the happiest you’ve ever felt
- A few descriptive words for your mood right now
- How effectively you’re working and functioning now, on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is completely ineffective and 10 is the most effectiveness you’ve ever achieved.
- Tell the truth! You are not being graded how you react to stress or the kind of situations you encounter, but on the accuracy and detail of the information you record.
Part II: Stress Management Plan
- Look at the different stresses you experienced while keeping your stress journal. Highlight the most frequently occurring stresses, and the ones that were the most unpleasant to deal with.
- Examine the stresses that you highlighted.
- Take note of your assessments of their underlying causes, and your appraisal of how well you handled the events. Do these indicate areas that you need to improve upon?
- Take note of the situations that consistently cause stress. Consider ways in which you can change these situations to be less stressful, or ways in which you can change your response.
- Examine how you felt when you were under pressure, and take note of how it affected your happiness and your effectiveness. Was there a level of stress at which you were happiest and performed the best?
- Based on your analysis, identify your stressors and list them in order, starting with the most stressful.
- Consider each stressor and decide on an action plan for dealing with it, based on the discussions we had in class. Ensure that your action plans meet the criteria for SMART goals.
- Evaluate your action plans and determine what steps you need to take immediately as proactive stress prevention (e.g., improving time management skills, etc.).