Stressed? Triggered? Three Ways to Find Out Why
Stress is something everyone deals with sooner or later, even though stress is subjective, and everybody has different things that they perceive as stressful. In order to manage your stress, you need to figure out what is causing it. The way you do that is by making time to identify your stress triggers, which might be situations, people, or events that lead you to feeling stressed out and anxious. Read on to find out about three different methods of getting to the bottom of what is triggering your stress.
A very common method of figuring out what’s causing you stress is by keeping a journal or diary. Your journal is where you record your thoughts and feelings each day; and you’re able to look back on it after you’ve had a stressful day. Over time, you should be able to pinpoint people or situations that led to your increased stress on those days. Especially if you’re using your journal to track your mood as well.
Remember to look back on your journal entries often to try and find patterns that can help you discover those stress triggers. Maybe it’s a co-worker, or maybe you’ve been eating a lot of junk food lately and feel guilty because you’re trying to eat healthier, or maybe there are some personal issues leading to your stress. When you’re able to see the patterns and identify what’s triggering your stress, you’re able to take the next step of managing it.
Different methods of journaling to discover stress triggers include:
Writing letters (that will never be sent) to those you stress you out explaining how you feel
To use a mood tracker or feelings log, you write out (or color in) the portion of the log devoted to each particular day. Over time you’ll be able to easily see any patterns of feelings and moods and be able to trace those blocks to the specific events happening in your life.
Consider Your Physical Changes
Your body will also give you signals and show signs of stress, even though you might not realize that this is what’s going on. For example, have you ever noticed that after dealing with a certain person, you tend to get bad headaches or experience muscle tension? That’s your body’s response to the stress that this person causes. Your body is telling you, “I’ve had it up to here with this person.” You might also find that when you’re having a bad day at work or encounter transportation issues, you suddenly have stomach aches or other digestion problems because your body is calling out for help.
According to the American Institute of Stress, there are a multitude of ways that stress effects the body.
When you know the physical signs of stress, you can then try to figure out what was going on just before you got those migraine headaches to figure out what was causing your stress, especially if you’re tracking your moods or feelings.
Notice Your Behavioral Changes
You can also look at any behavior changes that either you or your friends and family notice, narrowing down why you think you are behaving in a different manner to figure out what’s stressing you out. For example, if you are suddenly not sleeping very well or are sleeping too much, try to think about what was happening on those days when you had insomnia. Which can help you to narrow what caused your stress. Some other behavior changes to related to stress are anger or resentment towards others, lashing out, being irritable, eating more or less than you used to, or having changes in your work performance.
Tracking your stress triggers is one of the first steps in managing your stress before your stress manages you. Once you see what’s causing your stress, you can create a plan to help you manage it. Maybe you’ll need to avoid certain people, places or situations. Or maybe if you can’t avoid those people, places or situations you can plan in advance your reactions or come up with coping methods so that you’re not totally triggered and stressed out.
What method are you using to track your stress triggers? How is it working for you? Let me know in the comments.
Journal photo courtesy of Estee Janssens on Unsplash
Stressed man photo courtesy of Aaron Blanco Tejedor on Unsplash
Cassandra Martin-Himmons is a trainer, coach and consultant who believes in empowering her clients and providing the tools that they need to make positive changes in their lives to manage their stress and increase their self-care. Connect with her on Instagram or Linked/In