Since the COVID‐19 pandemic started, many people are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. We may be worrying about finances and being able to pay bills. We may be concerned about our own health and safety and the health of loved ones. We may wonder if this will ever end and when we can return to “normal.” And the reasons continue. Also, the signs of stress can take many forms that we may not be able to recognize. One great tool to increase awareness of our stress is self‐monitoring. Self‐monitoring can be a powerful first step in managing stress.
To begin self‐monitoring of stress, there are several areas that can be helpful to observe:
Your Body: Regularly scan your body for muscle tension, including where you notice tension. Observe your posture, including whether your shoulders are held high.
Your Breathing: Shallow or rapid breathing can often indicate stress.
Your thoughts, feeling, and actions: As stress starts to creep up, how do you respond to it? What are your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors?
Your triggers: What causes stress for you right now?
By self‐monitoring, you can recognize when you are stressed and start to fill your stress management toolbox in the following ways:
Take breaks to recharge your batteries
Avoid or remove triggers that tend to increase your stress
Engage in self‐care to reduce your stress, such as deep breathing or listening to music
Set reminders for yourself to take breaks and practice self‐care Writing things down is a great way to raise awareness; in other words, “ink it, don’t think it.” And, a stress log can be a helpful tool for self‐ monitoring. A sample stress log is below:
Day & Time
Rating Response: 1-5
Record when it happened
Describe the stress/event: what happened, who was involved, etc.
Describe your thoughts, feelings, and actions related to the event, including steps taken to manage stress.
Rate how you handled the stress. (1 – Poor, 2 – Fair, 3 – Good, 4 – Very Good, 5 – Excellent) & what to do instead if not handled well.
Ex: 8/7/20 5:30 pm
Ex: My neighbor Susan said that my son couldn’t play with her son.
Anger. Sad. Disappointed. Screamed at Susan over the fence.
1. Next time, I will do a fun activity with my son instead.
By self‐monitoring your stress, you can identify your stressors and learn your unique stress response. Then, you can incorporate good coping skills, which can include regular exercise, eating healthy foods, meditation, listening to music, journaling, deep breathing, connecting with others, and limiting news exposure, among many other things.
TrestleTree is here to help individuals understand and manage stress throughout the pandemic and at other times. TrestleTree Health Coaches work with individuals to identify stressors and establish coping skills within their unique life circumstances and sources of stress.