SELF-ASSESSMENT

“Normally we do not so much look at things as overlook them.” - Alan Watts

Real People, Real Stories
The Stress Management 101 class was about to begin. Today's topic was Assessing Your Stress. Angie sat quietly in the back of the classroom. “Ok class, let's start by checking our resting heart rate”, the teacher announced. Angie's pulse was 105 beats per minute. “Next, check the number of breaths you take per minute.” Angie counted 30 breaths. “How long does it usually take you to fall asleep once you lie down at night?” Angie said it usually takes about two hours. “How much of the time do you feel high levels of stress?” Angie said she feels that way almost all the time. “Doesn't that feel unpleasant to always feel so stressed?” the teacher questioned. Angie's reply was both sad and common among college students, “I didn't know there was another way to feel. I assumed this was the way college life was supposed to be, and that everyone feels this way.”

SELF ASSESSMENT

Several years ago author Richard Carlson created a very catchy title for his best-selling book, Don't Sweat the Small Stuff…It Is All Small Stuff. He offered some important advice for our over-stressed society. We need to step back and relax. That is great advice. The problem is, not all stuff is small stuff. Some things are worth sweating over. The tricky part is determining what is really important and worthy of your energy and what is the “small stuff” that causes needless worry and decreases the quality of your life.

One of the great challenges for successful stress management is determining what it is that causes you stress. A certain level of stress can energize and motivate you to deal with the important issues in your life. You want to focus your energy on those things in your life that are truly important. How do you determine what factors are causing unnecessary stress? Is my stress level normal? These are important questions we will answer in this chapter.

Where Are You Now?

How do you assess stress? How do you measure stress? In this chapter, you will find a variety of tools to help assess your stress. Some of these tools are simple and fun. Some are more scientific and complex. Each of them has been selected to increase your understanding of stress in your life. Each of these tools will provide information that you can use to develop a stress management program that works for you. The first step in developing a plan is assessment. Assessing where you stand right now is critical to making progress in achieving a balanced life. As Alan Watts stated in our chapter quote, “Normally we do not so much look at things as overlook them.” This quote contains real truth. You may be so busy living your life that you don't take time to stop and assess. You just keep doing what you are doing.

There is not one best tool for assessing stress, in part because reactions to events vary from person to person. What absolutely frazzles one person may excite and positively challenge another. Research supports the idea that it is not the actual stress that matters most, but our ability to control how we perceive and react to the situation that contributed to the stress. External events do not cause stress; how we perceive and cope with them does.

It is important to know that the information you gain from the assessments in this chapter is for you to take and use as it seems relevant to you and your life. These assessments and surveys are not intended to be diagnostic, but only to guide you in understanding yourself better. Taken together you will discover an overall picture of your current stress status. This will help you decide where you want to go and how you can get there.

Begin with a few simple, yet informative, measures of potential stress. Using the Assess Stress Table, fill in your response for each item based on the instructions following the table.

Assess Stress Table

Resting Heart Rate

______ Beats per minute

Breathing Pattern

_______ Abdomen _______Chest _______ Both

Respiration Rate

______ Breaths per minute

Stress-o-meter

1    2    3    4    5    6    7    8    9    10

Resting Heart Rate
Check your resting heart rate (pulse) after you have been sitting or relaxing for a period of time. You will need a watch or clock with a second hand (or digital seconds). First, find your pulse. You can find your radial pulse on the thumb side of your wrist or your carotid pulse on your neck just under the jaw. For sixty seconds count the number of beats that you feel. Place this number in the first line of the Assess Stress Table.

Breathing Pattern
Next, find a chair that has a back to it. Sit in the chair so your back is primarily straight up and down against the back of the chair. Place one hand on your abdomen with your palm covering your navel. Place your other hand on the upper part of your chest with the palm of that hand just above the heart. For a minute or two, become very aware of your breathing. While sitting straight up, notice your breath as it goes in and comes back out. Become aware of your hands as you breathe in and out. Which one seems to move more? Is it your abdominal hand or your chest hand? Or do they both move equally?

Try this second technique to see if you get the same results. First, breathe out and empty your lungs. Count to three as you inhale deeply. Now, hold it. Did your shoulders go up? Did you feel like the air filled the upper part of your lungs? If so, you probably lean toward chest breathing. If you are a diaphragmatic breather, you would feel your abdominal area expand, your belt tighten, and fullness in the lower part of your lungs and chest. Record your results on the Assess Your Stress Table.

Respiration Rate
Now, for about a minute, become aware of your breathing again. This time, just count how many natural, effortless breaths you take in a minute. Be sure to breathe as normally and naturally as possible. Each inhalation and exhalation
cycle is considered one breath. The number of breathes in one minute is your respiration rate. Record the number of breaths you take per minute in the Assess Your Stress table.

Stress-o-meter
Another self-assessment is the Stress-o-meter. Think back over the last month of your life. Include all of your waking moments, as you think back. Give yourself a rating according to the following scale. A score of “1” would indicate that you feel your life has been relatively stress-free during that period. You have felt blissful, calm, peaceful and serene at all times
. You have been able to adapt and “flow” with situations as they arise. A “10” score would mean that you felt very high anxiety most of the time. You may have had periods bordering on neurosis, suicidal, or very depressed feelings. A score of 10 would mean that this was a month packed with high levels of stress.

Considering the last month as one single period of time, it is most likely that you would rank yourself somewhere between these two extremes. If you were to average the month (we all have highs and lows), what number would you give yourself on this scale from 1 to 10? Make a note of this number on the Assess Your Stress Table. We will refer to this number again later.

Assess Your Stress Results
Many factors are involved in determining a general level of stress. A couple physiological measures that relate to increased stress are increased heart rate and increased respiration rate. While there are many factors that affect these rates, you will learn in chapter three why the stress response can increase your pulse and respiration rates. The average pulse rate for an adult is approximately 70-80 beats per minute. The average respiration rate is around 12-16 breaths per minute. A faster heart beat or breathing rate might be an indicator of higher than desired stress levels.

Were you primarily a chest breather or an abdominal breather? Many of us are primarily chest, or thoracic, breathers. Chest breathers tend to take shallower breathes. Diaphragmatic, or abdominal, breathing involves the abdominal muscles to facilitate deeper breathing. This allows you to take in more oxygen with each breath. Later you will learn more about why deep breathing is effective as an important relaxation technique.

Your perception of stress primarily determines how your body responds. The Stress-o-meter increases your awareness of the level of stress you perceive in your life. When we exercise we can follow a perceived exertion scale that will give us some idea of how hard we are exercising. We can determine our intensity level. Similarly, we can use the Stress-o-meter to assess our general levels of perceived stress over the past month. You will learn later in the book how your perception of stress relates to your health and your physiological responses. Your body responds the same, whether the stress is real or imagined, so your perception becomes your reality.

Now, look back over your results recorded in the Assess Your Stress Table. What does this information tell you about your stress level?

Research Highlight - Stress Seems to Block Deep Sleep

Stress may disrupt the natural rhythms of the body's nervous system during various stages of sleep, according to a University of Pittsburgh study in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. This study found stressed sleepers wake up more often while they are sleeping and have fewer episodes of deep sleep. The link between daytime stress and restless sleep is well established, but scientists are still investigating the exact ways that stress affects sleep.

Researchers monitored the heart rates of 59 healthy undergraduate students while they slept. Heart rate variations can provide clues about the activity of the autonomic nervous system, which controls the function of organs such as the heart and lungs. To trigger stress during sleep, the researchers told half of the students they would have to deliver a 15-minute speech when they woke up. The topics would be chosen for them upon awakening, the students were told.

The researchers detected significant heart rate variations between the stressed and non-stressed students as they slept. The stressed group had changes in heart rate patterns during REM, or rapid-eye-movement, sleep - the sleep phase when dreaming occurs - and non-REM sleep. The heart rate variability patterns detected in the stressed students were similar to those seen in people with insomnia, the study revealed, suggesting similar pathways of nervous system disruption. (University of Pittsburgh, news release, Feb. 5, 2004)

Symptoms of Stress
How frequently do you find yourself experiencing such problems as headaches, problems going to sleep or staying asleep, unexplained muscle pain, jaw pain, uncontrolled anger, and frustration? Using the table below, assess the frequency that you experience these common
symptoms of stress.

 

Frequency of symptoms

Symptoms

Almost all day, every day

Once or twice daily

Every night or day

2-3 times per week

Once a week

Once a month

Never

Headaches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tense muscles, sore neck and back

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fatigue

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Anxiety, worry, phobias

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Difficulty falling asleep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Irritability

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Insomnia

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bouts of anger/hostility

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Boredom, depression

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eating too much or too little

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Diarrhea, cramps, gas, constipation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Restlessness, itching, tics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The more often you experience these symptoms of stress, the more likely stress is having a negative impact on your life. Like Angie in our opening vignette, you may be so used to feeling a certain way that you assume this is normal. Look back over the Symptoms of Stress Table. Are there symptoms of stress that you would like to eliminate or change? In later chapters you will learn proven strategies to help eliminate the negative symptoms of stress.

FYI - Lesson From the Titanic

The blockbuster movie Titanic has a health lesson for us all. The captain of that mighty ship was warned six separate times to slow down, change course and take the southern route because icebergs had been sighted. But, he ignored all six specific warnings, lulled into complacency of believing that the ship was unsinkable. The lesson is listen to your body when it sends you signals. Symptoms and changes are warnings that you should slow down, change course, or take another route.

Perceived Stress Scale

A more precise measure of personal stress can be determined by using a variety of instruments that have been designed to help measure individual stress levels. The first of these is called the Perceived Stress Scale

The Perceived Stress Scale (PSS) is a classic stress assessment instrument. This tool, while originally developed in 1983, remains a popular choice for helping us understand how different situations affect our feelings and our perceived stress. The questions in this scale ask about your feelings and thoughts during the last month. In each case, you will be asked to indicate how often you felt or thought a certain way. Although some of the questions are similar, there are differences between them and you should treat each one as a separate question. The best approach is to answer fairly quickly. That is, don't try to count up the number of times you felt a particular way; rather indicate the alternative that seems like a reasonable estimate.

For each question choose from the following alternatives:

0 - never

1 - almost never

2 - sometimes

3 - fairly often

4 - very often

____ 1. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?

_____ 2. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?

_____ 3. In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and stressed?

_____ 4. In the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?

_____ 5. In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?

_____ 6. In the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all the things that you had to do?

_____ 7. In the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?

_____ 8. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?

_____ 9. In the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that happened that were outside of your control?

_____ 10. In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?

Figuring your PSS score:

You can determine your PSS score by following these directions:

First, reverse your scores for questions 4, 5, 7, & 8. On these 4 questions, change the scores like this: 0 = 4, 1 = 3, 2 = 2, 3 = 1, 4 = 0.

Now add up your scores for each item to get a total. My total score is ______.

Individual scores on the PSS can range from 0 to 40 with higher scores indicating higher perceived stress.

Scores ranging from 0-13 would be considered low stress.

Scores ranging from 14-26 would be considered moderate stress.

Scores ranging from 27-40 would be considered high perceived stress.

The Perceived Stress Scale is interesting and important because your perception of what is happening in your life is most important. Consider the idea that two students, John and Dan, could have the exact same events and experiences in their lives for the past month. Depending on their perception, John's total score could put him in the low stress category and Dan's total score could put him in the high stress category. Consider the words of Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Nothing can bring you peace but yourself.”

The Inventory of College Students' Recent Life Experiences

Another useful scale used to measure stress levels in a different way is called The Inventory of College Students' Recent Life Experiences (ICSRLE). The ICSRLE was designed to identify individual exposure to sources of stress or hassles and allow for an identification of the extent to which those stressors are experienced over the past month. The ICSRLE was developed uniquely for college students. As you know, the sources of stress in a university environment can be unique and different from other settings.

What do college students typically perceive to be the major sources of stress? The ICSRLE is helpful in assessing the major sources of stress and in identifying individual exposure to sources of stress or hassles. This inventory also allows for an identification of the extent to which those stressors are experienced over the past month.

The following is a list of experiences which many students have some time or other. Please indicate for each experience how much it has been a part of your life over the past month. Mark your answers according to the following guide:

Intensity of Experience over the Past Month

0 = not at all part of my life

1 = only slightly part of my life

2 = distinctly part of my life

3 = very much part of my life

____1. Conflicts with boyfriend's/girlfriend's/spouse's family

____2. Being let down or disappointed by friends

____3. Conflict with professor(s)

____4. Social rejection

____5. Too many things to do at once

____6. Being taken for granted

____7. Financial conflicts with family members

____8. Having your trust betrayed by a friend

____9. Separation from people you care about

____10. Having your contributions overlooked

____11. Struggling to meet your own academic standards

____12. Being taken advantage of

____13. Not enough leisure time

____14. Struggling to meet the academic standards of others

____15. A lot of responsibilities

____16. Dissatisfaction with school

____17. Decisions about intimate relationship(s)

____18. Not enough time to meet your obligations

____19. Dissatisfaction with your mathematical ability

____20. Important decisions about your future career

____21. Financial burdens

____22. Dissatisfaction with your reading ability

____23. Important decisions about your education

____24. Loneliness

____25. Lower grades than you hoped for

____26. Conflict with teaching assistant(s)

____27. Not enough time for sleep

____28. Conflicts with your family

____29. Heavy demands from extracurricular activities

____30. Finding courses too demanding

____31. Conflicts with friends

____32. Hard effort to get ahead

____33. Poor health of a friend

____34. Disliking your studies

____35. Getting “ripped off” or cheated in the purchase of services

____36. Social conflicts over smoking

____37. Difficulties with transportation

____38. Disliking fellow student(s)

____39. Conflicts with boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse

____40. Dissatisfaction with your ability at written expression

____41. Interruptions of your school work

____42. Social isolation

____43. Long waits to get service (e.g., at banks, stores, etc.)

____44. Being ignored

____45. Dissatisfaction with your physical appearance

____46. Finding course(s) uninteresting

____47. Gossip concerning someone you care about

____48. Failing to get expected job

____49. Dissatisfaction with your athletic skills

Scoring the ICSRLE

Add your total points: ________

Your score on the ICSRLE can range from 0 to 147. Higher scores indicate higher levels of exposure to hassles. Focus on two key outcomes from your results. First, you can determine your current level of stress by adding your score for each hassle and getting a total. Second, you can discover which of the hassles play a greater part in your life. Higher scored items that you rated with a 3 indicate those stressors are more of an issue for you.

The Ardell Wellness Stress Test

Don Ardell developed a stress assessment that is unique in its holistic approach to stress. In chapter one, you learned about the importance of incorporating all dimensions of health in your understanding of stress. The Ardell Wellness Stress Test incorporates physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social aspects of health for a balanced assessment.

Rate your satisfaction with each of the following items by using this scale:

+ 3 = Ecstatic -1 = Mildly disappointed

+ 2 = Very happy - 2 = Very disappointed

+ 1 = Mildly happy - 3 = Completely dismayed

0 = Indifferent

_____ 1. Choice of career

_____ 2. Present job/ business/ school

_____ 3. Marital status

_____ 4. Primary relationships

_____ 5. Capacity to have fun

_____ 6. Amount of fun experienced in last month

_____ 7. Financial prospects

_____ 8. Current income level

_____ 9. Spirituality

_____ 10. Level of self-esteem

_____ 11. Prospects for having impact on those who know you and possibly others

_____ 12. Sex life

_____ 13. Body, how it looks and performs

_____ 14. Home life

_____ 15. Life skills and knowledge of issues and facts unrelated to your job or profession

_____ 16. Learned stress management capacities

_____ 17. Nutritional knowledge, attitudes, and choices

_____ 18. Ability to recover from disappointment, hurts, setbacks, and tragedies

_____ 19. Confidence that you currently are, or will in the future be, reasonably close to your highest potential

_____ 20. Achievement of a rounded or balanced quality in your life

_____ 21. Sense that life for you is on an upward curve, getting better and fuller all the time

_____ 22. Level of participation in issues and concerns beyond your immediate interests

_____ 23. Choice whether to parent or not and with the consequences or results of that choice

_____ 24. Role in some kind of network of friends, relatives, and/or others about whom you care deeply and who reciprocate that commitment to you

_____ 25. Emotional acceptance of the inescapable reality of aging

Total ______

Ardell Wellness Stress Test Interpretation

+ 51 to + 75 You are a self-actualized person, nearly immune from the ravages of stress. There are few, if any, challenges likely to untrack you from a sense of near total well-being.

+ 25 to + 50 You have mastered the wellness approach to life and have the capacity to deal creatively and efficiently with events and circumstances.

+ 1 to + 24 You are a wellness-oriented person, with an ability to prosper as a whole person, but you should give a bit more attention to optimal health concepts and skill building.

0 to - 24 You are a candidate for additional training in how to deal with stress. A sudden increase in potentially negative events and circumstances could cause a severe emotional setback.

- 25 to - 50 You are a candidate for counseling. You are either too pessimistic or have severe problems in dealing with stress.

- 51 to - 75 You are a candidate for major psychological care with virtually no capacity for coping with life's problems.

(Adapted from High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doc, Drugs and Disease by Don Ardell)

Look back at the items in the Ardell Wellness Stress Test. Identify which items related more to physical health, to mental health, to emotional health, to spiritual health, and to social health. Do you see any patterns develop? For instance, are more areas of disappointment related to physical health than to social health? Remember, for holistic health we are seeking a balance in all dimensions of health.

Student Stress Scale

This chapter offers a variety of stress assessment tools to assist you in assessing stress from several different perspectives. The Student Stress Scale focuses on events that may occur in the life of a student to offer you a different perspective for evaluating stress. The Student Stress Scale is an adaptation for college students of the Life Events Scale developed originally by Holmes and Rahe. This popular stress assessment measured the amount of change, using Life Change Units, a person was required to adapt to in the previous year. It was designed to predict the likelihood of disease and illness following exposure to stressful life events. Each life event is given a score that indicates the amount of readjustment a person has to make as a result of change. Some studies have found that people with serious illnesses tend to have higher scores on similar assessments.

For each event that occurred in your life within the past year, record the corresponding score. If an event occurred more than once, multiply the score for that event by the number of times the event occurred and record that score. Total all the scores.

Life Event

Mean Value

1. Death of a close family member

100

2. Death of a close friend

73

3. Divorce of parents

65

4. Jail term

63

5. Major personal injury or illness

63

6. Marriage

58

7. Getting fired from a job

50

8. Failing an important course

47

9. Change in the health of a family member

45

10. Pregnancy

45

11. Sex problems

44

12. Serious argument with a close friend

40

13. Change in financial status

39

14. Change of academic major

39

15. Trouble with parents

39

16. New girlfriend or boyfriend

37

17. Increase in workload at school

37

18. Outstanding personal achievement

36

19. First quarter/semester in college

36

20. Change in living conditions

31

21. Serious argument with an instructor

30

22. Getting lower grades than expected

29

23. Change in sleeping habits

29

24. Change in social activities

29

25. Change in eating habits

28

26. Chronic car trouble

26

27. Change in number of family get-togethers

26

28. Too many missed classes

25

29. Changing colleges

24

30. Dropping more than one class

23

31. Minor traffic violations

20

Total Stress Score ________

Score Interpretation:

Researchers determined that if your total score is:

300 or more - statistically you stand an almost 80 percent chance of getting sick in the near future.

150 to 299 - you have a 50-50 chance of experiencing a serious health change within two years.

149 or less - you have about a 30 percent chance of a serious health change.

This scale indicates that change in one's life requires an effort to adapt and then an effort to regain stability. Stress is a natural by product of adapting and then regaining internal homeostasis. Take note that this assessment considers only the events that occur, not individual perception of these events in life. Perception is a critical part of the ultimate stress experience, so while the Student Stress Scale has value in increasing awareness of potential stress-producing events, ultimately individual perception of the event is an important variable.

Tombstone Test

When all is said and done, one of the most important assessments may be the Tombstone Test. How do you want to be remembered? Do you want to be remembered for being a workaholic? Do you want to be remembered as the one who always won the argument? Do you want to be remembered for making more money than your neighbor? Do you want to be the one who never forgave someone who wronged you? Or, do you want to be remembered as a good parent, spouse, and friend? Do you want to be remembered as someone who was whole and balanced in body, mind, and spirit? Do you want to be remembered for the service you provided to those who needed help?

Take a few minutes right now to write down how you want to be remembered. What do want others to say and think about you when your life is over? Make a list of the qualities and characteristics you want to be remembered for. Are you living your life in a way that demonstrates the qualities and characteristics you value?

The choices you make every single day determine to a large extent the stress you experience. Your daily work, which at times can feel like drudgery, can actually become a significant stress managing mechanism when you view your work as part of your contribution to bigger priorities. Thinking about today, this minute, the task at hand in a positive manner can bring peace and contentment. There is a story about two people laying bricks. A man passing by asks, “What are you doing?” The first worker answers, “Laying bricks.” The other worker answers, “Building a cathedral.”

Assess what is most important in your life. When your choices are guided by the values and goals that are most important to you, your life can be full and active, yet not stressful. Decide how you want to be remembered - and then live your life so that happens.

Daily Stress Log

The final activity in this chapter is the Daily Stress Log. Chances are many of you have completed a Food Diary at some time. The purpose of the food diary is to record everything you eat to increase your awareness of what you are eating. The information you enter in your diary can be analyzed for its calorie level and nutritional content. This information helps you evaluate your diet.

The Daily Stress Log serves the same purpose only relating to your stress. For several days, you will make a note of any and all activities that put a strain on energy and time, trigger anger or anxiety, or precipitate a negative physical response. You can also note your reactions to these stressful events.

When you have completed a daily log for a few days, review the log and identify 2 or 3 stressful events or activities that you can modify or eliminate. It has been said that awareness is half the battle. As you keep track of all of the events that happen during a day, and you notice patterns in which you find yourself getting more stressed, you can begin to take steps to make adjustments in those damaging patterns. The following is an example of a Daily Stress Log.

Daily Stress Log

Name:___________________________ Date:__________________

Time

....Place....

Source of Stress

Tension level*

Coping strategy.....................

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*Tension level .........................1 = Slight 2 = Moderate 3 = Strong 4 = Intense

Major source of stress today: ______________________________

Assessment of how you managed stress today: ________________________
______________________________________________________________

The Daily Stress Log can be a real eye-opener in helping you become aware of triggers of stress throughout your day. Watch for patterns that develop. Do you notice that your stress level rises every time your roommate's boyfriend comes over and plops himself down in your favorite chair? Do you find that you always feel stressed after you and your friend consume an entire family-sized pizza? Do you notice that the days that seemed filled with stress and the days you seem least able to cope with the stressors that occur are the days after your stay up late enjoying the all-you-can-drink specials at the bar?

Take a moment to summarize the results of each of the self-assessments in this chapter in the table below. Circle either “High” or “Low” according how much each assessment indicates high or low levels of stress for you.  For example, a higher resting heart rate may indicate higher stress levels; chest breathing rather than stomach breathing may indicate higher stress levels; increased number of breaths per minute might indicate higher stress levels. If you are consistently circling the “High” indicator, extra effort in the chapters of this book may be helpful in reducing the potentially harmful effects of stress.

Personal Self Assessment Summary

 

RHR:
#/minute

Breathing:
stomach or chest

# of breaths per minute

Stress -o-meter: 1-10

Symptoms of Stress Score

PSS Score

ICSRLE
Score

Ardell Stress Test
Score

Student Stress Scale
Score

Your Score

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Indicator of higher or lower levels of stress

High

High

High

High

High

High

High

High

High

Low

Low

Low

Low

Low

Low

Low

Low

Low

Conclusion

Assessing stress is a complex and challenging process. In this chapter you have had the opportunity to assess your stress from many different perspectives. Look back over each of the assessment surveys and tools. You will see that these tools measured stress from a variety of perspectives including:

·         Physiological indicators of stress

·         Your perception of what is happening in your life

·         Sources of stress and frequency of hassles

·         Your level of satisfaction with events in your life

·         Type of life events you have experienced

The real impact of this chapter is in what you do with the information you learned about yourself. It is like putting a puzzle together. Each of the assessments is like a piece of the puzzle. When you put all the pieces together you have a complete picture. Stress Management for Life will provide you with all the tools and information you need to develop a plan that will help reduce stress and enhance the quality of your life.

Key Points

·         Assessment is the first important step in developing a plan to reduce and manage stress.

·         Stress can trigger physiological changes like increased pulse and increased respiration rate.

·         Symptoms of stress can include headache, muscle tension, insomnia and a host of other warning signs.

·         Perception is key when assessing stress. The same situation can elicit a very different stress response in different individuals due to the individual's perception of the experience.

·         Frequency of exposure to different stressors and hassles can be another way to measure stress.

·         For a balanced picture of stress in your life, consider all dimensions of health, physical, mental, emotional, spiritual, and social.

·         A daily stress log can be a valuable tool for increasing your awareness of stress in your life.

·         No single survey or tool can tell the whole picture when it comes to assessing stress. Consider the results from all the assessments to gain a better understanding of your personal stress level.