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  • What Stress Quizes Didn’t Tell You About Managing Stress

  • You’ve seen them – those quizzes in the magazines. Answer these 10 or 20 questions and find out where you stand on the stress scale! Mostly, they don’t tell you anything you didn’t already know, right?

    And you already did what they suggest and it wasn’t enough.

    I read an article this morning that suggested packing lunches and setting out clothes the night before. Well, if you had time to do that, you probably wouldn’t be reading this article, would you? In reality, how much stress you experience at any given time depends on many factors.

    1. Your Childhood – As your therapist always told you, your childhood experience does have something to do with how much stress you experience in your life. How your parents handled tough situations taught you a lot – or not. Also, how supported you felt when you went through tough times makes a difference.
    2. Your Recent Life Changes – Most often taken out of context and presented as a complete stress assessment, the index of recent life changes highlights the basic aspect of stress. Going through many changes in a short time significantly increases your likelihood of illness. Notice I didn’t say negative change, just change. Even desirable experiences like weddings, graduations, and promotions demand adaptation and create stress.
    3. Your Health – Your physical condition impacts your stress levels more than you may think. Not only does stress make you sick, but both short-term and chronic illness cause stress.
    4. Your State of Mind – Any true measure of stress must measure psychological symptoms as well. The most common psychological symptoms caused by stress are anxiety and depression. Some people can sail through a tough time without experiencing either of these, and others may be affected strongly by a seemingly small event.
    5. Your Personality – Your habitual behaviors and emotions also influence how much stress you experience. Your usual pace, outlook, assertiveness, emotional tone, and way of relating to others, as well as how often you work overtime, all impact your stress level.
    6. Your Health Habits – Your use of caffeine, nicotine, and other recreational drugs influences your level of stress. Diet, exercise, and the pace of your life play a part, too.
    7. Social Support – A strong and close-knit group of friends can carry you through tough times.
    8. Your Responses to Stress – Whether you ignore problems and hope they will go away, get stuck in guilt and self-blame, or proactively make a plan and work it adds another piece of the puzzle.
    9. How Satisfied You are with Your Life – Basic satisfaction with your job, health, relationships, finances and home provides some insulation from stressful experiences.
    10. Purpose and Connection – People who believe their life has to mean for themselves and others experience less stress than those who don’t share this belief.

    Not One Factor Determines Your Level of Stress

    The balance between your stresses and your coping skills, constantly changing, determines where the scale stands at any given moment. Most stress assessments leave out the factors working in your favor, as well. Yet these vitally important factors can make the difference between healthy functioning and develop symptoms of stress-related illness.

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