Jean Huber, LCSW

What’s Your Stress Level?

Stress is a normal and usually productive part of life, but too much stress over a long period can have very negative effects on your emotional and physical health.

In a 1967 study, Dr. Thomas Holmes and Dr. Richard Rahe developed the classic do-it-yourself stress test you see below. To find your stress level, check every experience you’ve had in the last 12 months and total the points. You can estimate the effects of anticipated future changes, too; just keep the total time frame within 12 months.

Life Events / Stress Points

  Death of spouse   100
  Divorce   73
  Marital separation   65
  Detention in jail or other institution   63
  Death of close family member   63

  Personal injury or illness   53
  Marriage   50
  Fired from work   47
  Marital reconciliation   45
  Retirement   45

  Change in health or behavior of family member   44
  Pregnancy   40
  Sex difficulties   39
  Gain of new family member   39
  Major business readjustment   39

  Change in financial state   38
  Death of close friend   37
  Change to different line of work   36
  Change in number of arguments with partner   35
  Taking out a big mortgage or loan   31

  Foreclosure of a mortgage or loan   30

  Major change in work responsibilities   29
  Son or daugther leaving home   29
  Trouble with in-laws   29
  Outstanding personal achievement   28

  Partner begins or stops work   26

  Begin or end school   26
  Major change in living conditions   25
  Revision of personal habits   24
  Trouble with boss   23

  Change in work hours or conditions   20

  Change in residence   20
  Change in schools   20
  Change in amount or type of recreation   19
  Change in church activities   19

  Change in social activities   18

  Major purchase such as car, etc.   17
  Change in sleeping habits   16
  Change in number of family get- togethers   15
  Change in eating habits   15

  Vacation   13

  Major holidays such as Christmas   12
  Minor violations of the law   11

Total Score:     

What Does Your Total Score Indicate?

According to Holmes and Rahe, the more points you accumulate in a year, the greater your risk of emotional health problems, including anxiety and depression, as well as hypertension, fatigue, chest and back pain, ulcers, infectious disease, etc. Specifically:

UNDER 150 POINTS: No significant problems.

FROM 150 TO 199 POINTS: Mild life crisis; 33% chance of problems.

FROM 200 TO 299 POINTS: Moderate life crisis; 50% chance of problems.

OVER 300 POINTS: Major life crisis highly predictive (80%) of serious problems.

To learn more, see Jean Huber’s article on How to Manage Stress for Success.

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