What Is Your Stress Score?
Let’s start with a quiz (or maybe two). If you have not already, click here to take the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory and here to take the Percieved Stress Questionnaire.
Now that you have possibly stressed yourself by taking the assessments, let’s talk about what the results mean. Let’s start with the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory. Once you add up the total of all of the life events that have happened to you in the last year, if you score was less than 150, great job because you are not likely to have a stress-induced health breakdown in the near future. If you scored 150-300 points, watch out because you have a 50% chance of having a stress-induced health breakdown in the next two years. I don’t know about you but that percentage is a little two high for my comfort. Now, let’s say you score above a 300. Watch out! You better start making some serious changes because your odds of having a stress-induced health problem is now at 80%!
Regardless of your score, take a deep breath. Knowing what the problem is, is the first step to change.
Now, let’s look at the Perceived Stress Questionnaire. It can be a little tricky to get your score so be sure to read the directions. Once you have your number, it is pretty easy to understand. The higher your scores, the higher your likelihood to have difficulty quitting smoking, the higher likelihood of getting sick and the greater chances of developing depressive symptoms.
How many of you are surprised by your results? For me, I was surprised that my Holmes-Rahe scores were fairly low but my Perceived Stress Questionnaire was much higher. And honestly, it does make sense because while my external stressors may be low, my perception of the stressors has a big impact (which is why reframing thoughts is so important!).
If all of your scores are fairly low, great job, keep it up! If your scores are moderate, this is a red flag that if you don’t do something, you will likely score higher in the future. If your scores are high, take a deep breath and give yourself a reality check that you cannot sustain this any longer.
So, what can you do to minimize stress? Let’s talk about a few things. First, you need to identify your stressors and set boundaries around what you need in those areas. If you need help with that, I have a ton of blog posts about that so be sure to look at the archived posts.
Next, practice self-care. This doesn’t have to be spa days or vacations (though it can). Self-care looks like things that recharge you but also things that support a healthy life like going to the doctor or seeing a therapist. If you struggle with self-care, read this post.
Fuel your body well! There are so many studies that link mental health and physical health with nutrition. When you fuel your body well, you feel well. You have more energy for tackling the stressors in your life and you are more confident because your brain is getting all of the nutrients you need to thrive.
Another way to minimize stress is to move your body daily. Whether that is going for a walk or taking a fitness class, the chemicals that are released in your body when you exercise have been proven to lower blood pressure, stress levels and provide more energy. Now, with this, know that every body is different and what works for one person may not work for another. For instance, I know a lot of people who love high intensity workouts. Because I have adrenal fatigue that I am working through, high intensity workouts actually cost me more than it helps me. However, yoga or a walk do my body so well where for others it may not have as big of an impact. Find what works for you and don’t assume just because something works for someone else that it will for you.
The last stress management technique that I am going to share is organization. I know, for some of you the thought of organization stresses you out but hear me out. When you are organized with your schedule, you know what to expect with your days, you make time for what is important, you don’t forget things and you generally have a better handle on life. For me, I have a planner that is in my office that I write all appointments on so I know the main things in the week and am able to plan errands and meals around those events. This also looks like an organized environment, organized meals, etc. There is so much research that shows that the more chaotic your external environment, the more stressed you are.
So, I realize none of these stress management techniques are new, earth shattering information. But, there is a reason you see me posting about these things in blogs and social media posts. BECAUSE THEY WORK! Am I perfect at them? No, but I am actively working on them because I know they will serve me well.
You know what you need to do to manage your stress so go do it and remember, you are worth it!
Jocelyn is a Licensed Professional Counselor and course creator who desires to help clients heal and grow into who God created them to be.