We’ve all had those days: A rush in the morning because we got up a little too late, an unexpected traffic jam making us late for work. Stress. A difficult team meeting, being delegated unwanted tasks. More stress. Finally getting home only to have more unpleasant surprises. Maybe a needless quarrel with family or an overwhelming amount of housework. Stress again.
Ok, maybe such terrible days are not a standard in your life, but stress is present in every life. A little stress can be a positive thing. Without it, humans would not have survived. It is thanks to stress and anxiety that we react appropriately when we are in danger and, therefore, survive precarious situations. However, our bodies often have the same heightened reaction to the everyday problems in our lives and we can find ourselves suffering from persistent, long-term stress. Such stress can have a dramatic effect on quality of life and health. Many serious diseases are linked to chronic stress, including heart disease, digestive problems, insomnia, and depression. In fact, even positive events can cause a stress reaction in our bodies and put a strain on our health and wellbeing.
In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe developed a questionnaire called the Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) in an effort to better understand the causes and effects of stress. They identified 43 different stressful life events, which they called Life Change Units, and assigned each a “weight” based on how stressful they were deemed to be. They found that the higher the “weight” of the event or combined events, the more likely it was that a person would become ill.
Why not do this test yourself? It only takes a couple of minutes and it may help you see if you’re setting yourself up for burnout.
Read the following list of events and select which ones have happened in your life over the last 24 months. Add up the Life Change Units assigned to each event to calculate your score and read about your results below.
If you have:
150 points or fewer – this is a relatively low amount of life change and therefore you have a low susceptibility to stress-induced health breakdown. Lucky you!
150 to 300 points – almost 50% chance of health problems caused by stress. Be careful and take care of yourself. See the stress relief suggestions below for ideas on how to combat the negative impacts of stress.
300 points or more – according to the Holmes-Rahe statistical prediction model, there is an almost 80% chance of health breakdown. Prioritise your health and wellbeing and use the stress relief suggestions below to prevent illness.
If you got a high score, stress relievers such as physical activity, mindfulness and any other activity that brings you a sense of calm or joy can be beneficial. I would especially recommend mindfulness, not just for meditation, but as a way of life. It’s an excellent way to restore balance.
You can also check out my previous articles on stress release techniques for more suggestions!