One way to gauge how you are coping with stress is to study a chart of stressors. This tool lets you know what some of the most stressful situations are and your potential for illness based on the level of stress.
Why Measure Stress?
There are a couple reasons why measuring stress is a good idea. When you identify your own personal stressors you'll be able to know what life-changing events play a role in stress. When you get a complete score of the severity of your stress, you'll be able to see how likely you are able to handle your current circumstances and any future events as well as if breakdowns, illnesses, or additional problems may occur.
How the Chart of Stressors Works
Not all stress is equal. When you take all the activities and experiences from life and put them on a perceived stress scale an interesting thing happens. Some stresses score higher and some score lower. All stress is not equal and the more stressors you have in your life at one time, the more likely you are to develop illness. Also, many stressful experiences aren't necessarily due to negative situations. For example, events such as marriage, retirement, or having a baby can contribute to high stress levels and your ability to cope in healthy ways.
The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale
Taking a stress test is one way to gauge the current stressors in your life and how well you are dealing with them. Developed in 1967, The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is a chart of 43 life stressors with a number from 1-100 after each one. These are stressful life events that are thought to contribute to illness later in life. The test ranks the stressful situations from high to low, showing you the types of events in your life that might be more difficult to handle. Interestingly, things such as an "outstanding personal achievement," taking a "vacation," and "spending Christmas alone" are included on the stress scale.
The test takes a few minutes to take and can be accessed here.
What Your Score Means
When you add up your total number of all the stressors combined, you receive a result of how likely you are to develop a minor, moderate or serious illness in the next two years. Here is the severity scale:
- A score of 300 or more, puts you at serious risk of illness or breakdown.
- A score of 200-299 puts you a moderate risk of illness, such as headache, diabetes, fatigue, hypertension, chest and back pain, ulcers, and infectious diseases.
- A score of 150 or less has you only at a slight risk of illness.
Any Change Is Stressful
There is a strong connection between stress and change, even if your changes are going to have positive results down the road. Change is hard and it often takes a long time for things to get back to normal. Keep this in mind as you navigate through the stresses of life, both small and big.