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Stress Management for Health Course

Keeping a Stress Diary

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Keeping a Stress Diary

 

At those times when my life has been hard for me, jotting down words on paper even if no one is to read what I have written has given me the same comfort that prayer gives to the believer . . .

(De Beauvoir, 1972, 135 in Get Tough with Stress, John Townsend)

 

Research has shown that if we internalise our worries and thoughts this can be stressful in and of itself.  We need to externalise our thoughts and worries and one method of doing this is to keep a stress diary.  By doing this we get our thoughts and feelings on paper and another benefit is that we can look at what we have written down and start to identify our own causes of stress.  Some stress is generated by poor time management, rigid beliefs, etc., the diary can help to highlight these.  A stress diary does not have to be the size of a novel but should include date, time, level of stress caused, and a few notes about the event itself.

 

It may seem a strange idea to keep a stress diary but research has shown that it has beneficial psychological and physiological benefits.  For example, researchers at the State University of New York at Stony Brook, studied the therapeutic benefits of keeping a regular stress diary in subjects with the chronic health problem of Asthma and the auto-immune disease Rheumatoid Arthritis.  (Living with a chronic disease is a cause of stress in itself even if the clients had no other sources of stress in their lives.)  When the participants suffered a stressful event they wrote about it in their stress diary.  They were assessed by physicians who measured lung function in the case of the asthmatics and the severity of their illness prior to keeping a stress diary; the results were startling.  Even four months after keeping the stress diary they still showed clinical improvements in the severity of their illness when compared to a control group who wrote about an emotionally neutral subject.  The research findings were published in the Journal of The American Medical Association.

 

(Ref http://stress.about.com)

 

Caution

 

Do not let keeping a stress diary become a stressor in itself.

 

Take care not to leave your diary in a place that may tempt other people to view it.

 

Stress Diary

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