What? Me Stressed? A Stress Test and Tips To Reduce Stress

I was given this stress test by one of my professors in college. He explained that “change” is a major cause of stress in our lives and he encouraged us to take the following test to examine the stress factors in our lives and to see how those stress factors may be affecting us.

If you want to take the test, select each of the following stress factors you have personally experienced over the past 12 months and then add the numbers together to tally your stress level. Feel free to leave a comment with your stress level. I’ve listed mine below! Yikes!

Death of your spouse 100
Divorce 73
Marital separation 65
Jail term 63 (umm…only 63?)
Personal injury 53
Marriage 50
Fired from work 47
Marital reconciliation 45
Retirement 45
Changes in family member’s health 44
Pregnancy 40
Sex difficulties 39
Addition to family 39
Business readjustment 39
Change in financial status 38
Death of a close friend 37
Change to a different line of work 36
Change in number of marital arguments 35
Mortgage or loan over $10,000 31
Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
Change in work responsibilities 29
Son or daughter leaving home 29
Trouble with in-laws 29
Outstanding personal achievement 28
Spouse begins or stops work 26
Starting or finishing your degreel 26
Change in living conditions 25
Revision of personal habits 24
Trouble with boss 23
Change in work hours, conditions 20
Change in residence 20
Change in schools 20
Change in recreational habits 19
Change in church activities 19
Change in social activities 18
Mortgage or loan under $10,000 17
Change in sleeping habits 16
Change in number of family gatherings 15
Change in eating habits 15
Vacation 13
Christmas season 12
Minor violation of the law 11

The thought behind this stress test is when you experience changes, you generate a stress number, and if you go above a reasonable level, you potentially endanger your health. Scoring over 300 points greatly increases your risk of illness or injury due to stress. A score between 150-299 reduces your risk by 30%, while a score of less than 150 involves only a slight chance of illness. If you score high, you may want to protect yourself by reducing any additional stress in your life: don’t change anything – not even your breakfast cereal – until your overall stress level is lower. Any changes – good or bad-will introduce additional stress!

My level? Let’s just say it’s north of 400. Looks like I’m going to be stuck eating Honey Nut Cheerios for a while.

The stress each of us faces affects how we view and respond to everyday problems. Some researchers think it even affects how fast we age. So the question is, how can we learn to control stress and relieve the tension in our lives?

1. Examine your causes of stress and change your behavior. Work toward eliminating the stressing behavior. For example, it may be stressful getting to work on time each day. If you find yourself running late, eliminate the stress by leaving earlier. For those who never seem to have a free moment, limiting your commitments will limit your stress.

2. Fight only for things that are really worth it. Choose your battles and don’t sweat the small stuff (hint: it’s all small stuff). Ask yourself the five fives: Will it matter in 5 minutes, in 5 hours, in 5 days, in 5 months, in 5 years? Keep things in perspective.

3. Work on one thing at a time. Multi-tasking can be stressful and overwhelming at times, not to mention impossible. For those days when your focus is strained, slow down and concentrate on one thing at a time. Complete jobs rarely come back to haunt you and cause you stress. Be sure and reward yourself when you complete something!

4. Don’t procrastinate and keep your promises. Procrastination and dishonesty will cause you more stress. Do it now. Do what you promise. If you find yourself procrastinating, concentrate on your commitment and do whatever you need to do to accomplish what you’ve promised.

5. Reject perfectionism. Don’t make yourself (and everyone else) crazy by insisting on perfection. It’ll never happen anyway. But cheer up! Nothing and no one is perfect! (not even Olympians…except Michael Phelps!)

6. Practice good health habits. Eat good nutritious food, drink plenty of filtered water, get lots of rest, and exercise sensibly. It’s a proven fact: If you feel better, you’ll perform better.

7. Maintain optimism and a sense of humor. Enjoy the small pleasures in life!

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