A Stress Scale for Your Health

How Can a Stress Scale Quantify Your Health Risk?

Let's face it; stress is something we can all relate to nowadays. I'm not for a minute suggesting that there isn't a single person in the world living without stress, because I'm sure if you had to search hard enough, you may well find someone somewhere living completely stress free.

However, for the vast majority of us, stress has become a part of our daily lives, and while some people learn to live with it, it can be devastating for others.

In fact, have you ever taken a minute or two to think about just how much stress you yourself are faced with on a daily basis, bearing in mind that while some forms of stress are short lived, other forms of stress can continue to affect us over a long period of time.

So, what exactly is stress? Is it merely a term which psychologists and psychiatrists have come up with, or is it something which can be measured according to solid clinical evidence?

For a number of reasons, it is difficult to give a clear cut answer simply because everybody responds to stress differently. However, health professionals have in fact found a way in which to determine whether or not a person may be at risk of stress related problems, including stress related illnesses.

SRRS - Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale

Towards the end of the nineteen sixties, the medical profession was becoming increasingly interested in whether or not there was any correlation between stress and overall health.

It was at this time that two psychiatrists by the name of Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe began research in order to determine if there was indeed a connection.

In order to carry out their research, they used the medical records of more than 5,000 patients, in addition to the patients being asked to evaluate 43 different types of events by using a relative rating.

Amazingly enough, their study proved beyond all doubt that a correlation between stress and illness does in fact exist. As a result, their method for measuring stress which is known as the, Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS) was officially published and is still being used to this day. However, nowadays it is more commonly known as the "Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale".

How Does the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale work?

Essentially, a person who is deemed to be at risk of a stress a related illness will be asked to score various life events which have taken place during the past year.

This then enables a doctor or psychiatrist to calculate an estimation which then in turn makes it possible for them to determine whether or not there is in fact a risk.

The list concerned has a total of 43 different events, with each event having its own life change units value (LCU). Once a patient has completed the questionnaire, a final score is obtained by adding up all the LCU's which the patient has marked, and this figure is then used to determine just how at risk a person is.

While the lowest LCU of only eleven units is assigned to minor stress factors such as an involvement regarding a traffic violation, the death of a spouse is worth a significant 100 units.

Interestingly enough, this scale has shown that if your final score is lower than 150 then you're at no great risk, but, if on the other hand your final score is higher than 300, then you have 80% more chance of suffering from a stress related illness, and as such, you would be advised to see your physician immediately.

Can Stress Levels be Reduced?

One of the most noticeable benefits of the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale is that it affords you an opportunity to know whether or not your stress level is too high.

Of course, if you're aware of the fact that your stress levels are too high, then you have the advantage of being able to do something about it. Remember, stress related illnesses don't only affect those who suffer from them, but they also affect those who are close to you, such as family and friends.

Fortunately, there are a number of things you can do in order to reduce stress levels such as, reading a book, going for a walk, joining the gym, or simply by getting involved with a hobby.

You also need to bear in mind that apart from the major stress factors in your life, we encounter stress everyday. In order to minimize its impact on how lives, we need to be prepared.

Above all, the most important thing is for you to acknowledge the fact that you are suffering from stress, and that you need to do something about it.

From Stress Scale to our main page about Stress Testing

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