Identifying Triggers Can Help Manage Stress

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Stress and anxiety are typically triggered by internal factors like fears or uncertainty, and external factors like major life changes and workplace stress. Being able to identify triggers, also called stressors, is the first step in empowering you to avoid or manage them.

Dr. Kristen Brown, Family Practice Physician and Associate Medical Director for Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan, recommends keeping a journal of your daily experiences and how they make you feel over a period of time to understand their effect on your mood and outlook.

Another good reason to identify potential triggers is to separate the internal stressors from the external. Let’s say you identify that having a messy kitchen at the end of the night increases your stress and negatively affects your mood. Knowing this can help you be more prepared to create a strategy to manage that external stressor, like delegating responsibilities, creating one-pot meals, or cleaning as you cook.

For internal stressors like fear and doubt, Dr. Brown suggests recording affirmations as memos that can be played back during times when stress clouds your otherwise positive outlook. She says writing and posting hand-written affirmations is equally as effective.

The Mayo Clinic adds that tips to manage internal stressors can include reframing your thoughts, challenging negative thoughts, using relaxation techniques, and talking with a trusted friend or counselor.

According to the MayoClinic.org, “Strategies to manage external stressors include lifestyle factors such as eating a healthy diet, being physically active and getting enough sleep — which help boost your resiliency. Other helpful steps include asking for help from others, using humor, learning to be assertive, and practicing problem-solving and time management.”

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when evaluating your stressors:

  • What bothered me most today?
  • How did I feel physically and emotionally when these things happened?
  • Can any of these things be avoided or decreased?
  • How do I know when I am feeling stressed? What are the first signs?
  • Was I able to cope with the stress successfully?

Taking the time to journal your experiences is a huge step in managing stress. Your better days will thank you!

 

Photo credit: Steve Betts

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