Read full post: The Stress Audit: Identifying Workplace Triggers and Hotspots

The Stress Audit: Identifying Workplace Triggers and Hotspots

Stress in the workplace is an all-too-familiar issue for many professionals today. It can quietly build up, taking a toll on job performance, personal life and overall health. It’s important that we take a systematic approach when it comes to managing our stress levels, which can take the form of a “stress audit.”

First let’s define the concept.

A “stress audit” is a strategic method of identifying the root causes of our stress, then developing effective solutions to minimise the effect that these causes or triggers have on us.

In this blog, we’ll be taking a deeper look into the phenomenon of stress. We’ll identify the most common causes for stress amongst modern workers and take stock of the ones that affect us most on a personal level. Each of us are different and get affected by certain things. We can only learn to reframe the way we manage our stress when we’re aware of our own triggers and coping strategies.

Understanding Stress

It’s essential we understand what stress means to us – and what stresses us out. Stress is the body's reaction to any perceived threat or external change that threatens our current state of being.

A stressor – which can either be triggered by an external event or be self-imposed – requires an adjustment or response in our thoughts and behaviours so that we can attempt to regain our balance.

While stress is a normal part of life, excessive or chronic stress can have a serious impact on our health. It can also create consequences for us in the workplace, with the potential to cause decreased productivity, morale, and overall job satisfaction.

Reflect for a moment on how stress looks for you. How does it feel and manifest in your own life? Does it show in your mood? Does it reflect in your productivity? Or is it something that makes you feel certain difficult emotions that you keep locked away inside? Do you have an outlet that helps you resolve it? How long does it usually last?

Answering these questions is the first step of your own personal stress audit.

Identifying Your Triggers  

Once we’ve identified how stress manifests in our lives, the next step is to identify our triggers. Some of the most common workplace stressors include excessive workload, tight deadlines, unclear job expectations, and interpersonal conflicts with managers or colleagues. Take a moment to reflect on these triggers and notice which of them sound familiar or prominent in your daily work routine.

On the other hand, we each have our own set of personal stressors affecting us daily. Some common personal stressors include financial worries, family issues, personal losses, uncertainties about the future, or relationship difficulties with a romantic partner or a close friend.

Once we’re able to identify which of these triggers are currently central to our lives, we can begin to note down which events, spaces, or behaviours around us set off these triggers most. The same applies for our workplace stress triggers – we need to ask ourselves where and when do they occur most? This brings us to the next step in our stress audit: identifying patterns and trends that constitute out “stress hotspots.”

Mapping Out Stress Hotspots   

Once we have greater awareness of our triggers in our personal and professional contexts, it's time to map out the ‘hotspots.’

These are places or times where stress levels seem to spike. It might be a particular kind of meeting, a time of the day, week, month, or year. It could be an interaction with a specific person, or certain kinds of tasks or instructions.

Recognising these hotspots allows you to anticipate and better prepare for them. For example, if you know that your weekly one-on-one with your manager causes you significant stress in the hours leading up to the meeting, try to come up with a strategy that minimises the potential for other triggers on this specific day.

This is where our coping strategies come in – a vital part of our stress audit.

Your Personal Action Plan: Developing Coping Strategies

When you’ve completed all the other steps in your stress audit, you can create your very own action plan based on your findings. This plan should include specific, actionable steps to address identified stressors and outline a commitment to regular check-ins and adjustments as you see necessary.

Central to your action plan are your coping strategies. These may include improvements to our time management, developing conflict resolution skills, integrating daily relaxation techniques, or simply learning when and how to say ‘no’ to prevent ourselves from overcommitting.

Our “stress containers” often end up overflowing when we take on too much but don’t have enough time or healthy outlets to relieve the pressure. That’s where boundaries come in – telling someone when something is too much, managing others’ expectations by being transparent about our needs and feelings, and saying ‘no’ to things that drain us without giving us anything in return. On top of these healthy boundaries, it can be incredibly beneficial to make time for relaxing activities that de-stress us, such as hobbies, mindfulness practices, meditation, or any physical exercise that we enjoy. The state of our physical and mental health is closely tied to our ability to handle stress, which is why it’s so important to maintain our health in both these areas.

To better manage our time, we can write out a list of our priorities each day in order of importance or urgency, then decide how much time we are devoting to each task. This can help formulate an action plan and guide us step by step though our day.

Proactive vs Reactive Responses

A significant part of managing stress is being able to shift from reactive to proactive responses. Instead of dealing with stress as it arises in the moment, the stress audit can help us anticipate potential stressors or triggers before they even happen. By doing so, we remove the emotional element that makes us experience the stressor so intensely or severely, creating a calm space in which we can think more clearly and logically. The stress audit ensures that we have strategies in place to address our stresses before they accelerate so much that they impact our wellbeing or work performance.

Technology and Stress

In today's digital age, technology can be both a source of – and a solution to – our stress. While constant connectivity can lead to an "always-on" mentality, tech solutions like productivity apps or platforms for mental health support can become an important part of your stress management toolkit. Putting our mobile phones on airplane mode or placing them away from our workspace can minimise distractions from addictive apps during working hours. This can lead us to feel more productive and focused. And therefore, less likely to feel stressed when tasks require deep focus and a lot of time. Listening to soundscapes or music that helps you focus can also be incredibly helpful for alleviating stress and anxiety. The trick is to use technology to enhance our functioning, not to distract from our tasks and responsibilities.



A stress audit is an empowering process that can provide clarity and control over personal and workplace stress. By identifying our triggers and hotspots, developing coping strategies, and using technology to our advantage, we can limit the impact of stress on our long-term health and happiness. The goal is not to eliminate stress completely, as this would be an unrealistic aim. Rather, the idea is to manage stress confidently, as an unavoidable part of life – something which we have the tools to overcome, and ability to reframe into a powerful motivator.


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