Know Your Stress Level
Vol.8 Issue 2

Stress is something that we as human beings endure on a daily basis. But what happens when the pressures become greater than normal or than expected? When we become stressed, our body responds as though we are in danger. Our hormones increase our heart rate, causing us to breathe faster and giving us a burst of energy. This is recognized as a stress response known as fight-or-flight. Stress is a normal part of life and can be useful in helping us to stay motivated, work harder or react more quickly. It can push us to meet a deadline or accomplish something of importance.

Colorful negative single word list on wooden blocks

When stress happens intensely or lasts too long, it can adversely affect one’s health. Chronic stress can cause problems with sleep, headaches, back pain and digestion. It can impact your immune system, making it difficult to fight off sickness. Stress can exacerbate whatever health problems you may already have been experiencing. Stress can affect your mood, make you tense or even depressed. Relationships can be affected and in fact, too much stress can cause you not to perform at your best.

There are several ways to effectively manage stress and get it under control:

  • Learn what is causing the stress in your life
  • Examine ways to reduce the amount of stress in your life
  • Practice healthy ways to relieve stress and reduce its harmful effects

For some people, they know the exact origins of their stressors. A major life event like the death of a loved one, getting married or having a baby are high stress events. There are some situations that cause stress, but they are not so obvious.

Unhappy female sitting on sofa feeling lonely and sad

It is important to find out what stresses you, as everyone responds and feels differently about stress. Tracking your stress can help. You can write in a journal when you feel stressed, and indicate how you reacted to the stress. This can help you identify what is causing your trouble so you can take steps to reduce it, and handle it better.

This interactive tool was developed from Miller MA, Rahe RH (1997). Life changes scaling for the 1990s. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 43(3): 279-292. It is a means of measuring your stress level based on the number of life changes that you have had recently. Your score will give you an estimate of your current stress level and the likelihood that you will have health problems due to stress in the next 12 to 18 months. Check all of the events that have occurred in the past 6 months to find your stress score. Please note that all screening tools are only an estimate. The way you deal with stress depends upon several things and there can be other events that are not included in this tool.

Interactive Tool: What is Your Stress Level?

Once you get your score, there are a number of things you can do to better cope. For more information, see more topics on Stress Management and Managing Job Stress.

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