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Activity 3: Stress Diary
Sample stress diary, stress diary.
Stress Diary Worksheet
Stress Diary is for recording descriptions of the triggers, the situations, your reactions, etc. to stressors that occur during the day. Use this form to record information about yourself for 6 days.
Note : A downloadable RTF file of this worksheet is included in the left sidebar of this page.
Date: April 19, 2012
Circle One: S M T W Th F S
Review the sample diary form below for directions on completing the Stress Diary.
Date: Circle One: S M T W Th F S
Complete the Stress Diary below. Copy this form for additional space.
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Stress Diary explained: the steps plus an example template
Stress Diary: this article explains the Stress Diary in a practical way. Next to what it is, this artcile also higlights teh basics and benefits of keeping a stress diary, a step by step plan to set-up a Stress Diary and a practical example of a Stress Diary template to start with. After reading this article, you’ll understand the basics of this powerful tool for personal development. Enjoy reading!
What is a Stress Diary?
Keeping a stress diary is the process of noting down stressful or anxious moments, in order to later reveal what is causing these moments. Almost everyone experiences stressful situations sometimes, or more often, whether these are caused by traffic factors, difficult customers, setbacks, or work pressure.
What is Stress
Stress is a natural reaction of the human body, meant to help the body in difficult situations. Without the stress mechanism, a human would not survive.
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Research shows that people today are much more exposed to these stressful situations than before. Usually the stress level remains under control and the overall performance of the person experiencing stress is not affected negatively. But if the stress is not kept under control, it can be hazardous to the health or productivity of employees. For this reason, it is a good idea to find out which stress factors are at play, and which ones can be reduced so that employees stay healthy, productive and effective.
This is where the stress diary can make a difference. Usually, stress only strikes briefly, without realising it. By keeping a diary of stressful situations and environmental factors, the cause of the stress can be identified.
This article explains exactly what a stress diary is, how stress is created, aggravated and reduced, and you can download a stress diary sample template with accompanying analysis to use in your own life.
Keeping a Stress Diary is stress and problem solving
This tool helps to learn how to deal with stress. The diary keeps track of stress levels and keeps objective information about the causes of stress, and how these are dealt with. There is a saying that a problem cannot be solved until the cause is identified. The same applies to stress management.
Benefits of keeping a Stress Diary
By keeping a record and monitoring stress, awareness of stress is raised in four ways.
- The most important causes of stress can be identified
- All symptoms of stress are being tracked, and
- The response to this
- The most important basic information about stress and how this can best be managed
A step-by-step plan of how to keep a stress diary
In combination with the step-by-step plan listed below and the downloadable toolshero template, you can immediately get started with stress management yourself. Follow the steps, fill out the template, and effectively identify stress causes, and coping mechanisms.
Step 1 of setting up a stress diary: basic information stress moment
First, mention the time of when the stress occurs. Basic variables like these are very important to find correlations at a later stage. Be consistent with this, and bring a copy of this template with you at all times if necessary.
Step 2: Intensity
Grade the stress you have experienced in that moment. 1 is little stress, 10 is extreme stress.
Step 3: situation factors
Describe the situation when the stress occurred, and if known, the cause. Try to do this as diligently as possible. Was it just a comment from a colleague? Was it the traffic at the end of a long day’s work?
Step 4: prior events
With this step, describe the events prior to the stress moment. Was it just that comment from a colleague? Or did you wake up too late? An approaching deadline? Or too late for a meeting?
It could be that the foregoing situation was the straw that broke the camel’s back.
Step 5: symptoms
What were all the symptoms of stress in this situation? Increased heartbeat? Heavy breathing? Or did you get a headache? These are examples of some physical indications of stress, but you may also be experiencing reduced concentration, anxiety, or developing a negative outlook. These are emotional or psychological symptoms pf stress. If you are not sure what the symptoms are, see the list of symptoms.
Step 6: reaction
In this section of the template, write down what your reaction looked like at the moment of stress. For example, were you trying to slow down your breathing through breathing exercises? Or did you react by making comments to others? In general, how do you handle stress?
Also note how effective your reaction was. Be honest with yourself and grade your reaction, from 1 for ineffective to 10 for extremely effective.
Step 7: rating mood in your Stress Dairy
Finally, write down your mood at the time of the stressful situation, and your mood immediately after you reacted. 1 represents a very bad mood, and 10 represents a very good mood.
How can I learn from my stress diary?
Once the stress diary has been kept for several weeks, the results can be analysed by looking for patterns between stress moments. This helps the user to find out which things in life cause the most stress, or which coping mechanism best suits that particular situation. It is also possible that the stress diary provides new insights, for example a usually less stressed state around dinner time.
The most important aspect of keeping a stress diary is consistency and taking actual action based on the results. In some cases, a simple solution to stress factors can be found, such as an effective coping mechanism that seems to work better than others.
It seems complicated to consistently keep a diary that includes specific information about consciousness. Yet the use of a diary proves to be very simple after some practice. Not only will it help to become more effective, it will also help improve the mental state of people who sometimes or more often do not know what to do anymore. If you are unable to find patterns or causes of stress factors yourself, it is a good idea to take the information to a doctor or psychologist. These professionals can help find the stress factors as well as recommend valuable solutions.
Why do some people tend to be more stressed than others?
There are various reasons and causes for why some people experience stress more often and more intense than others. You could think: ‘I’m only stressed because I care so much’. That somewhat explains why some people are stressed more and more often than others.
The value that a person places on achieving goals, for example, is directly related to the ability to handle stress. As mentioned earlier, it is completely normal to feel stress generated by environmental factors such as a relationship or ambitions.
However, what helps a person not feel helplessly stressed is self esteem. The degree to which goal achievement is related to self esteem determines how stressed a person feels whilst achieving goals and coping with potential failure. When self esteem depends almost entirely on goal achievement, high levels of stress will be experienced. This is a reaction the body evokes, as failure means you are not good enough.
Some lead lives which simply have more potential moments for creating stress than others. Different circumstances can be the cause for this. Think of financial stability, people who are close to you, health or work situations. Some people’s lives are simply more stressful than others.
The level of self-esteem and autonomy a person has in such situations determines how stressful the situation is experienced. However, even if someone does not often notice stress, it can still pay off to keep a stress diary.
Take the following example. A person who has just been entrusted with a long-desired position with additional responsibilities is less likely to become stressed than someone who is overworked due to poor management.
Another example is a person who chooses to lead a minimalist lifestyle, versus someone who is forced to adopt the same lifestyle due to lack of opportunity or financial resources. If a person chooses a situation himself, the chance that extreme stress will occur is lower than if external factors lead to someone having to make a forced decision.
Stress and personality factors
In the world of psychology , stress is a much discussed and extensively researched phenomenon. An often used phrase in psychology is the Big Five. These are five characteristics of personalities, namely, openness, conscientiousness, extroversion, agreeableness, and neuroticism.
Everyone has different levels of each of these characteristics. The total simply manifests itself in our personality. When it comes to stress, neuroticism is the most important factor, as opposed to emotional stability.
Where someone is on the spectrum between these two will determine to some extent how stress is handled. Nobody likes to be called neurotic, but it is simply a term and certainly not a judgment. Too much neuroticism means that someone is very sensitive, someone with more emotional stability will be more able to see, process, and take action from a healthy and clear perspective.
Childhood and stress
Research has shown that experiences that people have at a young age, influence adult life in different ways. In psychology, a lot of research is done on the bond between child and caregiver. In many cases, the nature of this attachment determines how relationships are dealt with later in life.
For example, a safe bond between child and parent is characterised by attention, love, warmth, and conditioning at the right moments. Children who grow up in these circumstances are more likely to become a balanced person with good sense of self-esteem, than a child who does not have a safe bond.
A balanced person can respond well to criticism, and is willing to take risks without fear of failure. And as we have seen, this has a significant impact on stress management and personal development.
An insecure bond between children and caregivers makes it more likely that as adults they respond in an unhelpful way to stressful situations. How the parents point out the child’s mistakes or emotional needs, has a lasting impact on how the child’s self-image is developed.
Such an insecure attachment during childhood is often related to depression, anxiety, poor regulation of emotions, or trust issues. All these factors make dealing with stress even more challenging than it would be for someone who doesn’t have to deal with this.
During the same childhood, people also develop a sense of choice and autonomy. Learned helplessness is a term used to express that a person has be taught through early experience that he or she has no control over their environment.
Examples include growing up in poverty, experiencing a lot of relocations, deaths, and more. These are all situations in which a child experiences what it is like to not have control over their environment. This lack of autonomy can lead to an adult having a hard time making choices and responding to stress.
One of the clearest indicators that some respond to stress differently than others is PTSD. A post-traumatic stress disorder is in some cases developed by people who have experienced extreme violence. Others, who have experienced the same, will not develop this. The most well-known example of this is veterans.
What often happens in people with PTSD is that their ability to deal with future stressful situations is seriously diminished. Even though many feel they have recovered after a period of time, for some the ability to deal with stress remains permanently impaired.
Stress Diary example template
You can download the stress diary example template to immediately get started with your own development when it comes to stress management.
Download the Stress Diary example template
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It’s Your Turn
What do you think? Do you recognise the explanation of the stress diary? Do you keep a stress diary? Do you think this tool can help you manage stress better? Do you know anyone who has been helped by keeping a stress diary? Who would you recommend this tool to? Have you downloaded the toolshero-template for the stress diary yet? Do you have any tips or comments?
Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.
- O’Connor, D. B., Jones, F., & Conner, M. (2011). Psychological stress, diary methods, and eating behavior . In Handbook of Behavior, Food and Nutrition (pp. 1619-1633). Springer , New York, NY.
- Gulian, E., Glendon, A. I., Matthews, G., Davies, D. R., & Debney, L. M. (1990). The stress of driving: A diary study . Work & Stress, 4(1), 7-16.
- Carney, M. A., Armeli, S., Tennen, H., Affleck, G., & O’Neil, T. P. (2000). Positive and negative daily events, perceived stress, and alcohol use: A diary study . Journal of consulting and clinical psychology, 68(5), 788.
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16 Effective Stress-Management Activities and Worksheets
The interview is in 10 minutes, yet I want to run away.
Fear and anxiety lead to stress responses – cognitive, physical, and behavioral.
Deeply embedded and automatic, they evolved to provide humans with warnings, guiding present and future behavior while attempting to maintain a relatively stable internal state known as homeostasis (Brosschot, Verkuil, & Thayer, 2016; Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).
However innate these responses may be, there are ways to manage the stress you perceive.
This article offers our favorite stress-management activities and worksheets to help you deal with whatever challenge lies in your path.
Before you continue, we thought you might like to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free . These science-based exercises will equip you and those you work with, with tools to manage stress better and find a healthier balance in your life.
This Article Contains:
A note on stress-management approaches, keeping a digital stress diary with quenza, our 3 favorite stress-management worksheets, 3 activities to help manage stress, stress management within therapy sessions.
- Worksheets for Your CBT Sessions
3 Printable Tools for Children
Top 3 exercises for helping students, for group therapy sessions, a take-home message.
Stress, or rather the perception of stressors, can be managed, and there are ways to do so:
- Preparation increases our sense of control and improves confidence.
- Relaxation reduces anxiety and restores focus.
- Maintaining physical health via a healthy lifestyle, balanced diet, and exercise underpins overall mental wellbeing.
Another way to manage stress is to reframe our perception of it.
Rather than see it as unwelcome and to be avoided, pressure can provide an essential opportunity for development and learning. Viewed as an opportunity to thrive, stress can be the motivation to perform at our very best and adopt a growth mindset (Lee, Park, & Hwang, 2016).
In what follows, we will point you toward a range of useful worksheets and tools you can use to help your clients better manage stress. Most are free, but some of these come from our own Positive Psychology Toolkit© , which is a comprehensive subscription-based resource containing more than 400 exercises, activities, interventions, questionnaires, and assessments you can use to support your clients.
If you’re looking for more ways to grow your coaching or therapy practice using engaging, science-backed tools, be sure to check it out.
Despite the dangers of experiencing prolonged stress, many of us are likely to be tuned out to our body’s signals that we are experiencing stress.
Likewise, we may not have stopped to consider the factors in our lives that are most responsible for causing us stress.
To help strengthen your clients’ awareness of the drivers and experience of stress, consider inviting them to complete a one-week stress diary.
The purpose of a stress diary is to help them look for patterns and insights into the most common causes of stress in their life and their reactions to stressful events. From here, you can help your clients find effective ways of dealing with stress in the future.
For a great, easy-to-administer tool, consider taking a look at the Stress Diary tool available via the blended care app Quenza .
The platform features a growing library of pre-programmed psychoeducational activities, within which is the Stress Diary Pathway. This pathway invites clients to reflect on the day’s stressful experiences for eight days and culminates in an in-depth reflection into the patterns of stressors, as well as the client’s reactions to these across the eight days.
If you’re interested in learning more, you can try out Quenza’s Stress Diary Pathway for yourself by taking advantage of the platform’s no-risk 30-day trial.
A 2019 report found that in the UK alone, 12.8 million working days were lost due to stress, depression, and anxiety.
But help is at hand.
Multiple, evidence-based stress reduction techniques have been shown to lower stress levels, “ resulting in a reduction of disease symptoms, lowering of biological indicators of disease, prevention of disease and improvement of patient’s quality of life ” (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).
Many of these techniques are described below and will help you to manage stress in your life.
1. Breath Awareness
Breathing exercises can be a powerful way to place your body in a relaxed state. Sitting in a comfortable position and drawing your attention to your breath can release tension and offer a method for ongoing relaxation and a tool to use for times of stress.
Breath Awareness was created to help individuals cultivate a mindful awareness of their breathing and the present moment rather than get caught up in their thoughts.
Once comfortable, clients are asked to release any unnecessary tension and tune in to their breath. They are invited to observe the movements and sensations in their body with each inhale and exhale, without trying to change anything.
The exercise can be useful during moments of distress to unhook someone from their thoughts or as a mindfulness exercise.
Try out the Breath Awareness worksheet and practice it daily.
2. Anchor Breathing
Similar to the last activity, anchor breathing involves inhaling and exhaling consciously while focusing on the physical experience. In this exercise, clients are also instructed to imagine a peaceful scene – being on a boat, feeling calm and safe.
Deep breathing techniques have been shown to lead to decreased oxygen consumption and heightened alertness. EEG recordings have also recorded increases in theta wave amplitude when participants engage in certain deep breathing exercises, which is associated with reduced symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder (Jerath, Edry, Barnes, & Jerath, 2006).
By showing patients how combine mindful breathing with calming, peaceful visualization, Anchor Breathing provides an effective relaxation technique, reducing residual stress levels and providing support during acute episodes of stress (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).
3. The Five Senses Worksheet
Mindfulness can be cultivated by paying attention to what we observe and feel while using our different senses one at a time. During mindfulness practice, distractions are observed, and attention is gently returned to the body part receiving focus.
This exercise works in a similar way to the Body Scan exercise, which helps clients cultivate a mindful awareness of different body parts. Evidence from functional magnetic resonance imagining found that body scan meditation heightens brain activity linked to increased awareness of the present moment, focus, and stress reduction (Sevinc et al., 2018).
To read more about the steps involved, you can view or download The Five Senses worksheet .
If you’re looking for more tools, our free Mindfulness Exercises Pack includes the popular Leaves on a Stream tool and audio meditation, as well as two other mindfulness tools and audio files that you can download for free.
1. Nature effect
The powerful effect of being outdoors has been validated many times and should not be underestimated.
Visitors to a park in Zurich were found to have significantly lower levels of stress, a reduced number of headaches, and a 40% increase in feelings of wellbeing. These positive effects were further elevated in those taking part in sports (Hansmann, Hug, & Seeland, 2007).
While drugs and therapy are often used as treatments for soldiers returning home with post-traumatic stress disorder, the medications and treatment frequently have to be continued for many years without providing a lasting cure. In response, nature-based therapy has begun to receive increased scientific attention.
In a 2016 study, veterans reported that merely being in the garden, often performing mindfulness activities, could improve the symptoms of their post-traumatic stress disorder (Poulsen, Stigsdotter, Djernis, & Sidenius, 2016).
The simple act of getting out into an open space can provide stress relief. We delve deeper into this in our post on Environmental Psychology .
We are all aware of the physiological rewards of exercise, but the psychological benefits are equally impressive and backed up by research.
A seven-week exercise program was found to improve people’s moods ; reduce perceived stress; and increase optimism, self-belief , resilience, and a growth mindset (Cassidy, 2016).
Exercise regimes need not be extreme to be effective. Even modest levels of physical activity if performed regularly provide ongoing support for mental wellbeing, a growth mindset, and reduced levels of stress.
A great way to inspire you to start exercising may be found in our article on Mindful Running and Exercises .
3. Mindful movement
By replacing or combining some of our everyday car journeys with walking, we can become fully present in our day-to-day lives and improve mental health.
Indeed, a trial in 2017 found that combining walking with relaxation techniques is a great way to reduce levels of stress (Matzer, Nagele, Lerch, Vajda, & Fazekas, 2017).
Mindful walking combines the benefits of exercise, nature, and mindfulness.
Its goal is not to reach a destination, but to build an awareness of the moment, using the feet to anchor in the present. Pleasant and unpleasant bodily sensations such as muscle soreness are merely observed without opinion and let go.
Many people seek help when stress makes healthy living difficult. Therapy can help address immediate difficulties and work on the underlying causes (Strauss et al., 2018).
1. Anxiety Record
We often feel more vulnerable when we are asked to share what is making us anxious. The Anxiety Record worksheet helps individuals to understand what is causing their anxiety and learn appropriate coping skills.
Using this worksheet, clients can record their anxieties, triggers, and their effects. Afterward, they are guided through a breathing exercise and asked to revisit their answers to the questions.
A few prompts from this exercise are listed below:
- When do you feel anxious?
- What thoughts are you having before or during feeling anxious?
- Do you think these thoughts are realistic?
- What thoughts could you replace them with?
Click to download the Anxiety Record worksheet and give it a try.
2. Biofeedback training
Biofeedback builds on the concept of homeostasis introduced earlier. Using technology to measure and report brainwaves, skin temperature, breathing, and heart rate, the individual learns how to gain self-control over apparently involuntary bodily functions.
A recent meta-analysis of 24 studies confirmed that biofeedback training led to improvements in coping and offers a promising approach for treating stress and anxiety (Goessl, Curtiss, & Hofmann, 2017).
Individuals can ultimately learn to control their heart rate and blood pressure, reduce levels of stress, and even successfully treat high blood pressure and cardiac disease. Performed with a qualified therapist, these changes ultimately persist beyond the therapy (Varvogli & Darviri, 2011).
Worksheet Suggestions for Your CBT Sessions
Many of us experience spontaneous thoughts as images rather than individual words or an internal conversation (Beck & Beck, 2011).
A child pictures an angry parent, and an employee imagines a demanding boss. They can be powerful, representing moments of fear or anxiety, and can be used in Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT) sessions.
The following questions can form the basis of a conversation to explore a mental image and the individual’s relationship with it, cognitively restructuring its interpretation.
Imagery can feel as real to the mind as being in the situation, so playing through images in advance can restructure thoughts and emotions and reframe the stress.
2. Daily Exceptions Journal
A journal can be a fruitful way to track life’s ups and downs. Positive CBT encourages monitoring the client’s strengths and the positive outcomes of life rather than focusing on the negatives.
By capturing what went well in a Daily Exceptions Journal, it is possible to identify and record the skills and talents for reuse in other areas of your life.
Subsequently, walking through the journal during therapy reinforces successes, provides praise, and encourages discussion of the problems overcome.
Sensory awareness involves paying attention to a specific sensory aspect of the body. It can be a great way to teach mindfulness to children.
Such activities can also improve focus, increase self-awareness , help regulate emotions , and reduce anxiety.
1. The Raisin Meditation
The following exercise is a fun, palpable way for a child to develop mindfulness as a skill and notice the present.
Work through the Raisin Meditation worksheet following the steps with the child, paying attention to each sense in turn.
Children paying increased attention to their senses can learn to improve their focus and feel calmer.
2. Nature Play
Ongoing research has recognized the importance of playing and spending time outdoors on children’s mental wellbeing (Dankiw, Tsiros, Baldock, & Kumar, 2020).
Practicing underused senses such as sound can heighten a sense of awareness and promote mindfulness. This can be especially true in an unfamiliar environment, including walking through the countryside with family.
The questions can be tailored to the environment. Starting or pausing somewhere relatively quiet may assist the child’s focus more at the start.
Print the Nature Play worksheet here.
3. Anchor Breathing
Anchor breathing can be quickly learned and helps a child to focus their mind on one point.
Such mental training offers a valuable method for gaining perceived self-control and reducing stress.
The Anchor Breathing method also works with hands placed gently on the belly or in front of the nose.
The following three examples, along with the activities described above, can be learned quickly and implemented into a student’s daily routine to help manage both acute and chronic stress.
1. Urge Surfing
Coping with (often self-destructive) urges can be difficult, especially in times of stress. Such behavior can become a crutch, making us feel like we are taking control, when in reality, we are relinquishing it.
The Urge Surfing worksheet is available with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit© . Backed up by scientific research, mindful self-acceptance can teach individuals to observe their cravings rather than act upon them.
2. Meditation on the Soles of the Feet
Meditation on the Soles of the Feet provides a safe space to work on managing strong emotions and regulating the urge to be aggressive , often a byproduct of stressful situations (Kruk, Halász, Meelis, & Haller, 2004).
The individual is not asked to stop angry thoughts – anger does serve a useful purpose at times – but rather to bring them under control through a shift of focus.
The client, standing or sitting with their feet on the ground, is asked to cast their mind back to a time that caused them to react very angrily. Then they are told to stick with those angry thoughts, letting them flow without hindrance. After that, they shift their attention to the soles of their feet.
Stretching and moving their toes, they feel the texture of their socks, the surface of the ground, or the insole in their shoes. They maintain focus, breathing naturally until feeling calm and in control.
Learning to manage anger more effectively reduces stress and anxiety, and increases feelings of control.
The full exercise is accessible with a subscription to the Positive Psychology Toolkit© .
Download 3 Free Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF)
These detailed, science-based exercises will equip you or your clients with tools to manage stress better and find a healthier balance in their life.
Download 3 Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises Pack (PDF)
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Research has identified the benefits of combining mindfulness and group therapy to help manage stress and increase resilience and positivity (Seyyed Moharrami, Pashib, Tatari, & Mohammadi; Babakhani, 2017).
Here is an example of a group exercise in mindfulness.
Walking Down the Street
The ability to observe, rather than react to, thoughts, emotions, and sensations is central to positive psychology.
The challenge is that the event and our thoughts about it are far from being the same.
The steps involved in the following exercise can be performed individually or in a group exercise, where everyone benefits from hearing one another’s thoughts.
Walking through the scene and discussing it in the group can help to develop positive behavioral change by separating thoughts and feelings from impulses and actions and, importantly, shape feelings while breaking a negative cycle of thinking.
Resources from PositivePsychology.com
Building resilience helps clients bounce back from stressful situations and use coping mechanisms to turn them into opportunities for growth.
The Realizing Resilience Masterclass provides guidance, along with a set of practical tools, to build a more resilient mindset.
If you’re looking for more science-based ways to help others develop self-compassion, this collection contains 17 validated self-compassion tools for practitioners . Use them to help others create a kinder and more nurturing relationship with the self.
Stress does not have to rule us. Stress should not be allowed to prevent us from doing what we want or need to do.
Instead, stress should be an enabler and drive us forward to build what we want and take on challenges that will allow us to grow.
There should be no excuse to hide from stress or become overwhelmed by it.
By using tools for coping and taking control, we can see stress as something natural that can invigorate and motivate us to overcome both planned and unexpected challenges.
These activities we shared will definitely help you manage stress. However, there are many other stress-management techniques to try out too. Identify those that work for you and implement them into your life. You will reap the benefits, especially before the next job interview or presentation.
Thank you for reading!
We hope you enjoyed reading this article. Don’t forget to download our three Stress & Burnout Prevention Exercises (PDF) for free .
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- Beck, J., & Beck, A. (2011). Cognitive behavior therapy: Basics and beyond. Guilford Press.
- Bergstrom, C. (2018). Ultimate mindfulness activity book: 150 mindfulness activities for kids and teens (and grown-ups too!). Blissful Kids.
- Babakhani, K. (2017). The effectiveness of cognitive-behavioral therapy group on self-efficacy and quality of life of women with breast cancer. Multidisciplinary Cancer Investigation , 1 (1).
- Brosschot, J. F., Verkuil, B., & Thayer, J. F. (2016). The default response to uncertainty and the importance of perceived safety in anxiety and stress: An evolution-theoretical perspective. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 41 , 22–34.
- Cassidy, T. (2016). Psychological benefits of adhering to a programme of aerobic exercise. Clinical and Experimental Psychology, 2 (2).
- Dankiw, K. A., Tsiros, M. D., Baldock, K. L., & Kumar, S. (2020). The impacts of unstructured nature play on health in early childhood development: A systematic review. PLoS One, 15 (2).
- De Vibe, M., Solhaug, I., Tyssen, R., Friborg, O., Rosenvinge, J. H., Sørlie, T., & Bjørndal, A. (2013). Mindfulness training for stress management: A randomized controlled study of medical and psychology students. BMC Medical Education, 13 (107).
- Goessl, V. C., Curtiss, J. E., & Hofmann, S. G. (2017). The effect of heart rate variability biofeedback training on stress and anxiety: A meta-analysis. Psychological Medicine, 47 (15), 2578–2586.
- Hansmann, R., Hug, S., & Seeland, K. (2007). Restoration and stress relief through physical activities in forests and parks. Urban Forestry & Urban Greening, 6 (4), 213–225.
- Jerath, R., Edry, J. W., Barnes, V. A., & Jerath V. (2006). Physiology of long pranayamic breathing: Neural respiratory elements may provide a mechanism that explains how slow deep breathing shifts the autonomic nervous system. Medical Hypotheses , 67 (3), 566–571.
- Kruk, M. R., Halász, J., Meelis, W., & Haller, J. (2004). Fast positive feedback between the adrenocortical stress response and a brain mechanism involved in aggressive behavior. Behavioral Neuroscience, 118 (5), 1062–1070.
- Lee, C. S., Park, S. U., & Hwang, Y. K. (2016). The structural relationship between mother’s parenting stress and child’s wellbeing: The mediating effects of mother’s growth mindset and hope. Indian Journal of Science and Technology, 9 (36).
- Matzer, F., Nagele, E., Lerch, N., Vajda, C., & Fazekas, C. (2017). Combining walking and relaxation for stress reduction: A randomized cross-over trial in healthy adults. Stress and Health , 34 (2), 266–27.
- Poulsen, D. V., Stigsdotter, U. K., Djernis, D., & Sidenius, U. (2016). ‘Everything just seems much more right in nature’: How veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder experience nature-based activities in a forest therapy garden. Health Psychology Open, 3 (1).
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- Varvogli, L. & Darviri, C. (2011). Stress management techniques: Evidence-based procedures that reduce stress and promote health. Health Science Journal , 5 , 74–89.
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What our readers think.
The resources was very helpful. thanks.
Interesting article although I wasn‘t able to open the links as it sent me to a site saying I had to purchase a toolkit in order to access them! I don‘t know why I get sent emails with resources that I‘m unable to access. Shame!
Glad you found the article interesting, and I’m sorry our distinction between the free and paid resources here is not as clear as it could be — I’ll flag this with our editor. Yes, some of the resources listed are freely available while others are available to subscribers of the Positive Psychology Toolkit . However, the three resilience exercises mentioned at the beginning are free and should instantly arrive in your inbox and be available to use.
– Nicole | Community Manager
These will be most helpful with the Native American population I serve
Very practical exercises of relaxation. True we have to rule ourselves not left to unnecessary stress which consequently results in low well being and reduce quality of life. Thank you Jeremy
Very helpful and easy to understand and practice documents. Grateful.
The article was more helpful and am looking forward to read more of this kind.
Hi Moses, So glad you found the resources helpful. Another great tool for dealing with stress is journaling, which you can read up about in our dedicated article here. – Nicole | Community Manager
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9 Printable Stress Management Worksheets & Templates
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Looking for the right tool to help manage stress? Stress management worksheets work very well for this purpose.
In today’s article, we’re sharing a collection of printable worksheets you can download, print out, and use to help manage and lower your stress and anxiety levels.
Table of Contents
Stress Can Be a Good Thing
In small amounts, stress can be a good thing. It gives us motivation and helps us to get things done.
Unfortunately, we live in an age where chronic stress has become a problem. Many of us have to deal with daily challenges in the workplace, making ends meet, and looking after our family’s and our own welfare.
Our fight-or-flight response is triggered to cope with what the body perceives as threats. When this happens constantly, we develop physical ailments such as respiratory problems, digestive issues, and heart disease that can lead to stroke.
Knowing how to manage stress is important not just for our health, but also for the overall quality of our life.
Some Techniques for Lowering Stress Naturally
Chronic stress is not caused by a single factor, and for many people it gets to the point where they need to take medication to keep it at bay.
Here are some suggestions on how to reduce stress naturally .
- Get enough sleep. The habit of going to bed after midnight has negative effects on your health. Find healthy ways to fall asleep earlier and you will likely see a decrease in your stress levels.
- Learn to let go. Holding on to negative feelings can put you constantly on edge. Develop the habit of letting go and moving on from the past to reduce your stress response.
- Eat whole foods. Research show that there is a correlation between the consumption of ultra-processed food and elevated stress levels . If you’re constantly stressed out, consider eating foods that are close to their natural state (e.g., fresh meat instead of hotdogs or deli meat and fresh fruits instead of canned).
- Develop an exercise routine. Moderate exercise is beneficial for lowering stress levels. You might want to consider signing up for yoga, going for a swim, or taking a walk to improve your mood and keep stress and anxiety at bay.
- Use a worksheet. Worksheets are a wonderful tool for learning how to control your stress response. They are easily accessible through different resources. The key is finding reliable resources that are designed or created by experts in stress management.
To help you out, we’ve rounded up the best worksheets that can be printed out and used instantly. Continue reading to check them out and see what works best for you.
1. Stress Management Tool
via Solutions For Living
If you’re looking for a worksheet that helps you manage stress quickly, here’s one from Solutions for Living that you might want to try.
This free, printable worksheet has sufficient space for writing down crucial information you need for stress management.
Use this worksheet to identify the following:
- Your stressors
- Your reactions
- The solutions that help you cope
2. Taking Control of Your Emotions
via Professional Counseling
Perhaps you’re currently experiencing a personal crisis and need something to help you cope with the stressful situation. This workbook created by Elly Prior is a great option.
In a gentle, informative way, the worksheet walks you through the emotional rollercoaster you may be going through right now and helps you find solid footing through actionable ideas that keep you from being overwhelmed.
3. Yoga Art Therapy for Stress Management
via Creative Counseling 101
This worksheet gives you the chance to work off steam and lower your stress levels. It has a fun theme of incorporating art and movement to alleviate anxious thoughts and emotions.
Yoga poses are printed on the first column of the worksheet. The second column encourages users to copy the picture and draw the pose.
Finally, the third column asks users to copy the picture by actually doing the yoga pose.
The activity works in two ways.
First, drawing the poses encourages mindfulness and moves your attention away from what’s causing your stress. Second, doing the yoga poses incorporates moderate exercise that helps lower stress levels in a natural way.
4. Stress Management Workbook
SafePost provides a series of Wellbeing Workbooks to help users learn more and cope with the stress they’re experiencing. There are four workbooks in this series, and the example above is workbook number one.
This printable workbook features 45 pages of helpful information for understanding stress, as well as activities and writing prompts that promote stress management.
5. Stress Diary
via Personal Development Insights
The habit of keeping a journal is a cathartic practice that provides a safe place where you can write down thoughts about what’s stressing you out.
This free, printable worksheet provides gentle encouragement and useful tips for alleviating stress and maintaining a stress diary where you record emotions, experiences, thoughts, and situations that give you stress or feelings of discomfort.
6. Stress Management Journal Worksheet
via TherapyAids on Etsy
This worksheet helps you regain control of your life and minimize your stress.
It can be used for your daily or weekly reflections, as well as stress management. The worksheet is helpful for identifying the things causing your stress, depression, or anxiety.
Some of the writing prompts in this worksheet help determine:
- What you need to do
- What you don’t need to do
- What you can’t control
- What is not your responsibility
It also features several mantras to remind you to stay grounded and let go of whatever is causing you stress.
7. Manage Stress Workbook
via US Department of Veterans Affairs
This workbook was designed for veterans as a guide for identifying and tracking stress, as well as for utilizing a variety of techniques and strategies for coping.
The workbook has 20 pages that provide valuable tools for stress management, such as:
- Key techniques for managing stress
- Stress management tracker
- Stress symptoms checklist
- Identifying your stressors worksheet
- Practicing mindfulness worksheet
8. Stress Journal
via ONTSpecialNeeds on Twitter
This Stress Journal emphasizes the importance of learning to recognize what causes stress before determining the coping strategies to be used.
To track the main stressors in one’s life, the user records the date, time, and details of the stressful situation(s) they encountered during the week.
The user also rates their stress level during that moment (high, medium, or low).
Finally, the user records their reaction to the stressful event.
When users keep track of stressors and their stress levels, much can be revealed about the nature of their stress. With this knowledge, they can then begin addressing it.
9. Introduction to Stress Management
via Therapist Aid
Finally, we have this printable worksheet from Therapist Aid. This is a three-page worksheet featuring questions and prompts to explore more deeply the user’s understanding of stress, as well as identify situations in their life that are a source of stress for them.
The worksheet asks users to identify the major physical symptoms that manifest as their response to stress.
This technique promotes self-awareness and mindfulness and can hopefully be a way to resolve a person’s extreme response to stress.
Final Thoughts on Stress Management Worksheets
There you have it—printable stress management worksheets to help improve your response to stressful situations.
Bear in mind that most stressful situations are beyond our control. The best thing you can do is to be aware of how you react to situations like this and, when necessary, change your reaction so as to protect your health and overall quality of life.
The following resources are worth checking out to learn more about stress management and improving your quality of life:
- Dealing with Stress: 19 Proven Ways to Relieve Your Stress
- How Does Visualization Promote Relaxation and Stress Reduction?
- 9 Eustress Examples of Good Stress in Your Life
- Eustress vs. Distress (How to Benefit from the Different Kinds of Stress)
- 5 TED Talks on Stress Management: Kelly McGonigal & Others
- 9 Benefits of Journaling on Your Health and Mental Well-Being
Circle One: S M T W Th F S. Review the sample diary form below for directions on completing the Stress Diary. Time of. Day. Intensity of Stress. (1-7).
Distress: Negative, bad stress that can be harmful to the body. (e.g., doing poorly on a test). Review your Stress Diary. From your stress list
Free stress management worksheets, tools, and resources for therapists. Handouts cover education, relaxation skills, and more.
Mind Tools Club members can also download a Stress Diary template, to log your own experiences. The download includes a completed diary example and
Stress Diary. • For information about stress diaries, visit www.mindtools.com/rs/StressDiary. • For tips about reducing stress
Note: A downloadable RTF file of this worksheet is included in the left sidebar of this page. Sample Stress Diary. Name: Nancy. Date: April 19
Stress Diary Worksheet. For each day select one situation to record. Try to do a stress management exercise such as. Deliberate Breathing while you are in a
This tool helps to learn how to deal with stress. The diary keeps track of stress levels and keeps objective information about the causes of
Keeping a Digital Stress Diary with Quenza; Our 3 Favorite Stress-Management Worksheets; 3 Activities to Help Manage Stress; Stress Management
This free, printable worksheet provides gentle encouragement and useful tips for alleviating stress and maintaining a stress diary where you