Sometime in the next day or two, take 5 to 10 minutes to sit down with your computer, a notebook, or a pad of paper, and do the following:

  • Write down any stressors that come to mind. Use a free-form approach; just write a few words about specific issues and why you find them stressful.
  • Don’t try and solve things right now. Just start with I find that __________ is stressful for me because _____________.
  • Focus on your own world, not on solving other people’s problems.
  • No one is going to be reading your work, so grammar, spelling, and penmanship aren’t important.

It can be helpful to break things into categories such as work/school, home, and personal/relationships.

If you notice your emotional brain trying jump in, that’s fine—just don’t lean into it. There is a time for emotion, but this is mindful work!

If you find that not much comes to mind—that your life is relatively free of stress, that’s great. But it’s still a good exercise. Even if you don’t go looking for stress, it will eventually come looking for you.

Once you’ve completed your stress inventory, stop, close your notepad or computer, and walk away. You’ve got it out of your head, so now give things a chance to percolate.