Your stress management plan


Having drawn out your stress profile, you can start thinking about what changes might be helpful and possible, and to set goals for change. As we can see, stress depends on many different bits (e.g. thoughts, feelings, physical response, behaviour). So changing any one of them can also have an impact on the others. Over the next few sessions, we will learn to tackle unhelpful thoughts (e.g. thinking about a mistake over and over), feelings, physical responses (e.g. learning to relax) and behaviours (e.g. putting off tasks).


Changing your stressful thinking


The way we think plays a large part in how stressful we are and how confident we are of coping with them. One way of learning to cope with stress involves noticing and challenging stressful automatic thoughts (SATs) that make you feel stressed.

SATs are usually:

  1. Automatic: Most people do not think very much about thinking 
  2. Most of our thoughts are just possibilities, but we accept them as reality and very rarely question them, especially thinking related to negative emotions
  3. When stressed, most of our thoughts are unfair: the automatic thinking means that we ignore anything that does not fit e.g. we tend to ignore the positives and focus on the negatives when we are stressed

Noticing SATs

To notice SATs, it is helpful to write them down.

Think of a recent time when you felt stressed and fill up the boxes below.

It can be very easy to confuse thoughts and feelings but feelings are usually one word (e.g. sad, ashamed) while thoughts tend to need more explanation.

Date/Time Event (where you were, what you were doing) Mood (e.g. sad, anxious, stressed) SATs (what was going through your mind when you felt bad)
Mon 2pm Sitting at home – meant to be writing my essay but I keep putting it off and can’t concentrate Anxious, terrified, stressed There’s no point of me doing this, I’m never going to be able to get it done.