The concept of stress-reduction is yet to catch up in India. But teasing out and controlling hidden stressors is vital for everyone because stress is a killer. it’s known to increase the risk of heart disease and infection and, most recently, has been linked to cancer. So, in the absence of stress clinics to tame your angst, we have got he next best thing: a do-it-yourself stress test guide to stress relief devised by Robert S. Eliot, M.D., director of the Institute of Stress Medicine in the United States.
Eliot’s quality of life index is a tool to help identify the invisible stressful weights you tote around and the sources of inner strength that can help lighten your load. the results, he has found, are more than 90 percent accurate. If you answer with your ‘gut’ response. Simply skip over any questions that do not apply to you. After scoring your answers, read Eliot’s personalized prescription for shoring up your strengths and keeping daily stress from keeping away at your life.
Stress Test: 40 questions
Click here to take the stress test
After you have taken the 40 questions stress test, to understand the score come back – keep both tabs open – and go through the scoring description in the sections below.
Scoring: know the Key Stressors
Compute your score by adding up all your points and dividing the total by the number of questions you answered. This average is useful for two reasons: First, the questions where your response was above your average represent your strengths, and the below average questions represent stress weak points.
Second, your score correlates with your energy level; if your average is below 5, your energy level is lower than normal, perhaps because you are experiencing burnout or even depression. Average of 5 and above often indicate high energy and optimism.
Word of caution: if all your scores are high, (8), you need to re-evaluate the candour of your responses. To consistently score that high is to live in an utopian world that does not exist. You may have learned to deny pain or to internalize stress by never complaining, which can be very destructive because it allows unresolved stress to intensify.
Remember, that the most important point of this stress test is the position of the scores in relation to one another. Look to your highest scoring areas for sources of strength and coping abilities, and direct your greatest attention to the low score, high-stress areas of your life, because change is possible and opportunities to lighten your load abound.
40 Coping Strategies for key Stressors, from Stress Test
Now that you have clarified the key stressors in your life, the following prescriptives (matched to the numbers on the Stress test) offer some coping strategies.
1) Anyone who is unemployed or whose career does not meet expectations is under a great deal of stress. One way to prepare yourself for change is to keep your skills up to date. Look ahead and ask yourself: When the service or product is outdated what is the next generation likely to need? how can my talents be used for these new opportunities. Staying adaptable is the key to stress control.
2) Only you can evaluate your personal game plan. Only you can identify where the imbalance lies, and what long term goals may be loosing out to short term pressures. If you scored 5 or below on this point, consider the cost of neglecting these concerns and take your personal development as seriously as you take your career.
3) Regular medical check ups can be a great source of comfort because if you feel ok and the doctor confirms it, your ability to read your body cues is reinforced. And early detection can prevent problems from becoming worse. So ask yourself whether the instruments on your mental dashboard are ok or the ‘ check engine’ light is on. If the later, perhaps you need not only a thorough medical evaluation but some other kind of help to reduce anxieties about potential health problems.
4) If we could give you a magic pill that would reduce your risk of all forms of illness, accident, and death to half of what it would be for others up to the age of 70, you would surely take it. The magic medicine would be labelled the “marriage pill,” Studies show that married people have a built-in health capsule. A married identity is formed by accepting yourself and behaving as part of a bonded pair. But married individuals who perceive themselves as being single, and act as if they were, lose some of the health benefits.
5) Periodic breaks can have significant health benefits, helping you gain perspective on problems. The benefits can be even greater if you share this time with your spouse.
6) Whether you have your own or adopted children, the challenge is to make sure your expectations with regard to each child’s inherited behavioral tendencies and aptitudes are realistic. IF you cannot accept who they are, you are creating a lasting burden for yourself and for them. Perhaps the worst thing parents can do is to assume that a child’s success or failure is totally the result of parental influence.
7) A growing number of people today have two sets of “children” – their own and their parents. This dual parenthood is one of the great weights and stresses in their lives. If you don’t guard your time, aspirations, and family, your own self esteem and health will suffer.
8) When people work in an environment where they have a sense of fulfillment and accomplishment, they are more likely to remain healthy. Moreover, their productivity goes up. When our colleagues at work become a surrogate family, providing mutual support and connectedness, the positive results will spill over into all aspects of our lives. But the reverse is also true.
9) Friends are not just nice; they are necessity. These relationships can become powerful life-support system when our own internal resources have fallen short. IF your score in this question was 5 or below, you may wish to re-evaluate your social relationships and begin to seek out other individuals with whom you may share experiences, hobbies, and other activities.
10) Spiritual support has been shown to reduce the risk of heart disease and lower the chances of contracting cancer, infectious diseases, and arthritis. We do not fully understand why this is so, but their appears to e a definite, measurable correlation. Chanting mantra can lower blood pressure. Perhaps those affiliated with a religious community often have a sense of forgiveness, understanding and hope – three powerful stress reducers.
11) The effect of being needed and needing one another is both powerful and mutually reinforcing. There can be a negative side to being needed, however. Some people are so dependent on the approval of others that they become people pleasers. They say yes to any and all demands and at the same time suppress their own needs. This is a sure way to loose control of your life, identity, and self esteem. If you are a people pleaser, take the initiative and unburden yourself of some of the responsibilities for others that you have assumed. You must also learn to take your own needs more seriously.
12) As warm living things, pets can be excellent companions for many who need closeness. I do not recommend that you run right out and find a pet if you do not have one. Only you can decide whether a pet will become one more burdensome responsibility – or an added pleasure. But if you are a pet lover, you may live longer.
13) Stress seems to be incompatible with happiness, so hobbies and interests designed to make you happy help you live longer and better. One can use innovative ways to relax easily. Given the opportunity to unwind, relaxed mind is set free to be more creative and more functional.
14) Are you running your life or is your life running you? Too many simultaneous life events are physically harmful and the pathway to burnout. For this reason, time management techniques, such as using a day planner, can be very productive. A planned day allows you to schedule stress-reducing breaks and rest periods – and to save time for family, friends, personal development, and hobbies. Such techniques can help one manage office stress. Simply gaining the level of control over your life also reduces stress.
15) If your neighborhood provides a sense of calm, quiet and comfort, that in itself is a means for extending your life. Conversely, living in a major city, which has become synonymous with feeling of fear, uncertainty, and doubt, can impact health. Researchers have found that this trio can cause high blood pressure. If you can’t move, there are still strengths you can draw on to reduce stress, such as developing sense of community with your neighbors, in order to gain a sense of control over your own safety.
16) The phone is the number one irritant in people’s busy lives. A phone call can interrupt. It can cause uncertainty or force an immediate response to a question that might be better left for later consideration. It can hound you when you would rather be reading, or thinking, or simply relaxing. Think of ways your telephone use can be better managed, such as getting an answering machine and simple answering your messages when you are ready. If the phone is your livelihood, it’s important to take relaxation breaks. Knowing that their is a break ahead is an important part of pacing yourself.
17) Your perception of commuting is the key to whether or not you find it stressful. If you consider the ride as an opportunity to read, relax, or reflect, the experience can be a very positive one. If you perceive commuting as a tiresome and frustrating nuisance, it can be the source of physiological stress. Commuting by car presents the greatest challenge. If you get stuck in traffic, for example, you can relieve the stress by turning your car in a place for dictating letters, listening to tapes, making phone calls, or planning your day. You can control airline-travel stress to some extent by scheduling enough time between planes and allowing for periods of rest both before and after a trip. If all else fails, simply cut down flying time by using phone or video conferences instead.
18) Work stress can come from a variety of factors. In some cases, noise makes concentrating a struggle. If everyone in your department is “sick all the time,” the building itself may be sick. Having a good work ethic does not require toughing it out in such conditions until your body sends you an unmistakable distress signal. If you are an employee, take whatever action you can on behalf of yourself and others. If you are a manager, re think the work environment as a bottom line issue.
19) Regardless of your income, managing your finances in the most prudent manner possible can actually be a life-saver. Money has one major value: It gives you choices. But simply piling up money often becomes a stressful obligation in itself.
20) How do you know when one more crisis will be too much? As you evaluate crisis events, try to step back from the surface problems and consider your innermost feelings and emotions. If you are unsuccessful in resolving the crisis yourself, seek professional help so that you can go on with your life.
21) As research has clearly demonstrated, meditation and relaxation can be important not only in reducing blood pressure and reversing arteriosclerosis, but also in enhancing the quality of your life and performance. When practiced regularly they become a part of you.
22) This question has been separated from question number 1 for a reason. You may be progressing steadily in a career you basically dislike. We advice our clients to take seriously the long term stress of being a fish out of water.
23) Healing can begin with the simple act of smiling. Scientists have identified a physical connection between the nerves of the facial muscles and a specific area of the brain that is capable of releasing “feelgood” chemicals. Smile now and notice the feeling of well-being that ensues.
24) Inappropriate or inadequate communication is a great source of stress in our daily lives, leading to frustration , anger, resentment. Improving your communication skills may help reduce the stress you feel in both personal and professional relationships. The best communicators are also the best listeners. They can understand not only what other people say, but also the non-verbal ways in which they express their point of view.
25) Exercise or yoga can lower anxiety, relieve temporary depression and increases a sense of control and self-esteem. Its essential in any program or stress reduction.
26) If you begin the night by falling asleep easily but then awaken in a few hours, it could mean that you are anxious or unable to control unfinished mental business. In this case, you may be helped by improving your time management organizational skills and thus resolving some stress. Early-morning awakening may indicate depression; personal counselling often can identify the underlying problems that are disturbing your rest. Regular exercise can help mitigate the effects of any sleep disorder as well as improve the quality of sleep. Sleep disturbances can be important health warnings; if they persist, seek professional help.
27) Uncontrolled stress affects patterns of both under and over eating. Weight problems, in turn, have profound effects on health. For this reason, effective weight control must include lifting personal, emotional, and mental weights as well as changing dietary habits. Learning about healthy eating, and how to eat the right way can help one move towards healthy lifestyle. which help reduce stress levels.
28) Several studies have established that moderate amounts of alcohol taken on daily basis may reduce risk of heart disease. However, this is not a recommendation to start drinking if you are a teetotaler. Clinical evidence shows that consuming more than moderate amounts daily actually contributes to high blood pressure and temper flare-ups, which contribute to stress.
29) he more caffeine you take in , the more agitated you will become. Substituting non-caffeinated beverages for caffeinated can help you stay calmer.
30) We have only one recommendation for those who smoke: Stop ! If you stop today, statistics confirm that you will greatly improve your current health level and prolong the length of your life.
31) When people fail to recognize options for control or feel they cannot exercise the options they have, they are invisibly entrapped. This kind of stress is most often experienced by a “people pleaser,” someone whose self-esteem is completely dependent on the opinion of others. By contrast, proactive people accept responsibility for their own actions and circumstances. Such people make things happen. Even in very difficult situations, their sense of control gives them some protection from the negative effects of stress.
32) The first step toward effective decision making is knowing where you want to go, Stating the outcome clearly to yourself gives purpose and direction to all the interim decisions. First, list a few important decisions and consider how they will affect your life and those whose lives you touch. Sleep on your list and see if the picture clears. Often the worst decisions are those we fell compelled to make on impulse. On the other hand, too much reflection without action may indicate perfectionism or reluctance to take responsibility.
33) Perfectionists believe that ” if you want something done right, do it yourself’.” Unable to delegate even minor tasks they become angry with themselves or others whenever any detail can’t be done “just right.” If your sense of perfectionism is beginning to cause you such stress, you need to find the balance between :well done” and “overdone.”
34) Neither unqualified optimism nor pessimism is am ideal low-stress state of mind. Optimists constantly try to do more than is possible, failing to take advantage of the caution that can come from a touch of fear. Conversely, pessimists often miss opportunities or lack the enthusiasm necessary to overcome obstacles. For optimum stress control, try to be a little of both – with a tilt toward optimism.
35) Focusing on past mistakes or bursts of anger can produce unnecessary guilt, which in turn produces stress. Life inevitably holds some failures, and the only thing you can change about the past is your attitude toward it. Think of past setbacks as opportunities to evaluate how you will act in the future. If you are carrying a load of guilt – for whatever reason – you may need one to one counselling to discover its cause and resolve it.
36) Unassertive individuals do not express irritation over the little things of life. Rather, they carry around a knapsack full of emotional IOUs until some trivial event causes the knapsack to overflow – and they blow up. Of course, it’s important to learn to communicate displeasure and frustration in socially appropriate ways. Assertiveness is very different from hostility and aggression. Assertive people speak form their own point of view, take responsibility for their feelings and try to help others understand why they are upset.
37) Rigidity, whether your own or other’s, can be difficult to deal with because it blocks choices. Adaptability is essential for survival in our rapidly changing world. A related quality is resilience, the emotional shock absorber that allows us to travel smoothly over life’s unpredictable potholes rather than to become stuck in them.
38) Anger is a normal useful emotion. However, it can be destructive unless it has a realistic basis. When anger is based on honest, realistic convictions, and is expressed assertively and respectfully, it has a greater probability of having a productive end. We can use anger to motivate ourselves to convert our stresses to strengths. Destructive anger, the kind that can lead to stroke and, or coronary blockage, is anger turned inward. Changing a number of factors contributing to anger may reduce stress far more effectively than trying to deal with the anger head-on.
39) In the course of a lifetime, self-esteem can take severe blows from external events. The loss of job, or a spouse, criticism from the boss, even the failure of the child at school, may provoke feelings of failure and abandonment. Taking action to convert such stresses to strengths is the best way to recover lost self-esteem.
40) Developing and honoring your personal value system is the foundation of taking control of your life. When you values are unclear, or constantly changing, you cannot have a firm sense of direction or even know when you have arrived. values help guide your decision making and order your priorities.