Test Your Own Stress Levels

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You can predict whether recent events in a person's life are likely to induce a stress-related illness. This idea was derived from research by Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe of the University of Washington, who questioned over 5000 people and found a high degree of correlation between the onset of stress-related illness and certain life events.

Each of these events was then ascribed an LCU (Life Change Unit) value, which indicates the amount of stress it is potentially capable of producing. The full list is shown in Table 2. It is called the Social Readjustment Rating Scale, or SRRS for short.

Table 2. Social readjustment rating scale

Rank Event Value
1 Death of spouse 100
2 Divorce 73
3 Marital separation 65
4 Jail term 63
5 Death of close family member 63
6 Personal injury or illness 53
7 Marriage 50
8 Fired at work 47
9 Marital reconciliation 45
10 Retirement 45
11 Change in health of family member 44
12 Pregnancy 40
13 Sex difficulties 39
14 Gain of new family member 39
15 Business adjustment 39
16 Change of financial state 38
17 Death of close friend 37
18 Change to different line of work 36
19 Change in number of arguments with spouse 35
20 Mortgage over 100,000 31
21 Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
22 Change in responsibilities at work 29
23 Son or daughter leaving home 29
24 Trouble with in-laws 29
25 Outstanding personal achievement 28
26 Wife begins or stops work 26
27 Begin or end school 26
28 Change in living conditions 25
29 Revision of personal habits 24
30 Trouble with boss 23
31 Change in works hours or conditions 20
32 Change in residence 20
33 Change in schools 20
34 Change in recreation 19
35 Change in church activities 19
36 Change in social activities 18
37 Mortgage or loan less than 100,000 17
38 Change in sleeping habits 16
39 Change in number of family get-together 15
40 Change in eating habits 15
41 Vacation 13
42 Christmas 12
43 Minor violations of the law 11

You can use the SRRS by adding up all the LCU values of the events which have happened to you in the past year. Then:

  • A score of less than 150 means there is a 37% probability (3.7 in 10 chance) of your becoming ill in the next two years.  
  • A score between 150 and 300 means there is a 51% probability (5.1 in 10 chance) of your becoming ill in the next two years.
  • A score over 300 means that there is an 80% probability (8 in 10 chance) of your becoming ill over the next two years.

We must emphasize certain points about the SRRS. First of all, if you obtain a score of, say, 320 you need not panic. The ratings were derived from an average American population between 1949 and 1967. Times have changed, and events which were very stressful at one time may no longer be so. What's more, the table is an average, and in all averages there are extremes.

For example, retirement may be very boring and therefore unusually stressful for one person, but produce only average stress in someone whose time is fully occupied. Secondly, more recent research has indicated that events may produce harmful stress only if we regard them as negative or unpleasant.

But despite these notes of caution, the SRRS remains a useful general guide to your level of stress and the problems it can cause. To recognize and admit that you are stressed may require careful self-analysis and total honesty.

Consciously recognizing that you are stressed means admitting that something in your environment disturbs you; and that implies change and effort to do something about it.

We'll look at what you can do to control stress on the next page of the website.


Home ] Fight or flight - how stress works ] Physical and emotional effects of stress ] Good or bad stress? ] When stress becomes harmful ] Beliefs that make you stressed ] [ Test your own stress levels ] Reduce stress with holistic therapy ] Aromatherapy and Lumie bodyclock ] Treat your stress ] End your stress with relaxation ] Reduce your stress with self-hypnosis ] Reduce Your Stress With Diet ] Overcome the startle response ]