Stress Trigger Personal Survey

A 33 week study using Quantified Self techniques to understand stress triggers that had surprising results. I presented a slightly longer version at the QS Meetup in London on March 31st.


Christian Jørn Hansen June 19, 2014 at 5:56 pm

Hi Paul,
What app did you use to track it? Tablog? I can’t find it on Android.

Thank you in regard,


This study assumes that your stress triggers, especially the self-induced ones are discrete thoughts which can be separated out like blue pins in a jar stuffed with multi-colored pins. When I travel, for example, I worry about the same things you tracked (and many more), but they are more like constant strands of consciousness rather than specific moments when I can distinguish “stress.” The stressors which originate from your environment seem more discrete and separable (when you are almost hit by a car, or pass an unsavory looking character when no one else is around, etc). I mean, if I, for example, tried to distinguish discrete moments when I wondered if I was “doing well” (am I winning?) during, say, a tennis game, well, they would be more like a thought wave than a thought particle. The results you show when you quantified your stressors seemed to prove what psychologists proved decades ago – by paying attention to behavior, you alter it. So it seemed to be logical that your total number of stressors declined dramatically over the course of the study. If it all made you understand your personal level of stress better, and more importantly, how to control, then it’s all worth the effort, but wonder how a generic technique based on new information can be derived from this experience. Enjoyed your video!

    Thanks Jason. Subsequent studies I have done confirm the experience of a stream of 15 to 30 second physiological reactions to external events. Rather than having a mood once a day there is a fluid set of triggers that can be worsened or ameliorated by a story about the circumstance. For example, someone leaning their seat back on a plane could be a 15 second trigger to recovery event or could linger as a stress event for several minutes. The difference is the disposition on the event. More in future posts, thanks for commenting!

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