I decided today that I’ll start all my posts in this challenge with a bit of a summary of how I’m feeling, with any key notes from the day on how I went trying to manage my stress. It will be interesting to see how my ability to manage my stress levels change as the month progresses, along with any health symptoms that I note.
Stress level (rating of 1-10; 10 being worst)? 6?
Notes: I had a few key items in my mind that was making me anxious today, and kept running various scenarios through my head. My only tactic was to try and focus on something else – not exactly successful. Health wise, my heart burn has been particularly troublesome today. I went without anything to soothe it for a few hours (we were visiting friends I had forgotten to bring anything with me) and I suspect it was the reason for a bout of fatigue and nausea shortly after lunch time (too much acid build up in the belly).
Today was the first day of the challenge and in a nutshell was about starting to learn where the stress is coming from, the stress “hot spots”.
Stress hot spots:
I found this particularly challenging, even the first time I started reading the book. The aim is not to think on a general term (the example in the book was “my boyfriend stresses me out”) but to think about the direct thoughts you had beforehand (using the same example “wondering if my boyfriend is cheating”).
I’ve made a list (which I’ve chosen to keep private), but expect that I will add to this as the month continues and I’m exposed to more situations. Given that I’m not at work at the moment, I had to rely on my memory directly pre-holidays, not exactly ideal.
I’ve also made it a priority to keep Mario updated on the list – I want to make sure we’re communicating well as a couple. Just a side note, he has very little to do with my stress levels (other than helping to lower them on multiple occasions) so readers fear not, there’s no trouble on the horizon there! I also believe that he has ability to potentially help identify areas that I’ve either blocked out of my mind or missed altogether. I’m incredibly good at tricking myself that everything is OK, when in reality it’s far from it.
Tracking my stress levels:
Another task was to create a stress graph, tracking my stress rating out of 10 on an hourly basis. I’ve opted to do this in a couple of ways:
- Daily on a half day basis – lunch time and directly before bed – I want to track this during the entire month – not just for a few days. This will help me to see if the challenge is actually working.
- Hourly while at work – since I think a large amount of my stress is related to work, I plan on tracking this for the next week to see the ratings go during the day. This will help to pinpoint if there are key parts of the day where I feel the most stressed (so I can schedule in time for myself where needed), or particular recurring situations that increase my stress levels. My weekends aren’t exciting enough to warrant hourly tracking.
I’m using a few tools to accomplish this:
- Numbers (ios spreadsheets app) – in order for me to track this so frequently, I needed to have ease of access to wherever I chose to track it. This meant that it needed to be on my phone, since I typically carry this with me at all times much to the disdain of my fiancé. Using numbers meant that I was using an app that I could synchronise to other devices as well, very handy. There were no dedicated stress graphs that I could find that would allow me to track different rates.
- Aida reminder (recurring reminders) – I’ve installed another app on my phone, which will give me hourly reminders during my working hours. I expect to be overwhelmed and busy when I return to work, meaning that it will be incredibly easy to forget to update my graph. With this reminder, it means that as soon as it goes off I can quickly switch over to the app, quickly put in the details and be done in 30 seconds.
As the month continues and I have some data against this I’ll be sure to throw in some screenshots so you can see how it’s progressed.
Reviewing my history:
The book also encouraged me to look back on my health in the last 12 months. I do recall comments from others where I’ve had a few more cold & flus than before, and I can see physical symptoms on my body, including my nails. I think it’s pretty clear that stress has definitely been taking a toll on my body, particularly with my current heartburn/suspected stomach ulcer issue!
So that’s day 1 done and dusted! It’s already forcing me to take a moment to really ponder things, instead of just brushing over it and moving on (no pun intended). I don’t think I have a good understanding still of my stressful moments, but as I continue to track this properly I expect there’s going to be quite a few eye-opening moments for sure!
This post is part of my 21-Day Stress challenge; for more information please see my background post here.