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Identify Your Stressors
by Dr. Beverly Potter


What are your stress habits?

Before you can manage stress you must identify situations that stress you.  What situations prompt the stress and how you respond to it.When you see your response habits you can develop a plan to change them.


Instructions: When you feel frustrated, worried, pressured, angry, excited, anxious or upset, stop and look at yourself and the situation.
Observe the situation, including who was involved, when and where it happened.

Rate your distress level, using a scale from 1 to 10, with 1 being "very little distress" and 10 being "extremely upset."

Write down your response to the distressing event including what you were thinking, how you felt and what you did.

Review Stressful Situations
After you've collected data on your stress for several days, review your personal stress log, looking for patterns.

Look for generalizations about when you experienced distress. What situations, people, times, or days seem to prompt

For example, you might notice that deadlines are a reoccurring theme. Or perhaps there is a person or kind of event that appear several times in the log.
Review Your Response to Stress
Look also for patterns in your responses.
Pay particular attention to responses you use over and over. You might see a pattern of avoiding certain situations or overeating when anxious for example.
From this analysis you can begin making a plan for managing stress.

Make a plan: When you know you are going to encounter a situation you know is stressful to you, you can prepare for it in advance.

For example, if you know that speaking with a particular person on the phone always upsets you, before calling him
you might spend a few minutes breathing deeply and reminding yourself that you are not the target of this person's anger.


Instructions: Divide a sheet of paper into three columns. List your
stress patterns in the first column. Next to each pattern describe your usual response to it in the second column. In the third column write ideas you have for handling the situation differently so that it is less stressful.

       Pattern                Usual Response                 New Response

When you have an understanding of your stress patterns, you can develop a self-change program.

Copyright © 1995: Beverly A. Potter. From "Preventing Job Burnout: Transforming Work Pressures Into Productivity" by Dr. Beverly Potter, Crisp Publications, This file may be downloaded for individual use.  Any other transmission or reprinting requires permission of the docpotter.  All Rights Reserved.

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