We all have some amount of stress in our lives, but too much can lead to major health problems. Keeping our stress in check is important, but do you really know how much of it you’re carrying? Taking this easy quiz is the first step in managing your stress.
Choose the one best answer for each of the following questions to determine your stress level (for question 10, choose as many answers as apply):
A. Slightly clenched jaw and slightly furrowed brow.
B. I look tired.
C. I look like I’m concentrating on something interesting.
D. I’ve got a half smile and look relaxed.
B. Thank goodness for caller ID.
C. Panic. What if something awful has happened?
D. Disinterest. I’ll answer if I’m not busy, but if I’m involved in something, I’ll check my messages later.
B. Just my children (even if they’re 30).
C. One or more adults (spouse or partner, parents).
D. My children and my parents—I’m responsible for the generations on both ends!
A. It pays the bills, but I have other pleasures in my life.
B. I hate going to work each morning.
C. I feel I have found my true calling, and my work is a joy.
D. It’s often unpleasant, tedious, or stressful, but at least it gives me status and money.
A. Single but looking.
B. Happily unmarried.
C. Divorced or separated.
D. Happily married.
E. Unhappily married.
A. 75 to 100 percent.
B. About 50 percent.
C. I watch maybe an hour a day.
D. I rarely watch television.
A. I have all the money I could ever spend and then some.
B. I could always use more, but I get by just fine.
C. I never have enough left by the end of the month.
D. I try to live simply and get by on less. I make enough to meet my needs and that’s all I need to make.
E. I can barely get by, have already filed or am considering filing for bankruptcy, have huge debts, and/or worry about money constantly.
A. Content with who I am.
B. Deeply dissatisfied with who I’ve become.
C. Okay about myself but striving to become a better person.
D. I like the inside me but not the outside me.
E. I like the outside me but not the inside me.
A. Like I have no control over my life and what happens to me.
B. Like I have only a little control over my life and what happens to me. I tend to blame circumstances, bad luck, or other people for consequences I’ve had to face.
C. Mostly in control of my life, though major life events often give me the feeling I’ve lost control.
D. I understand that I reap what I sow. I make my own luck and my own choices, and in general, I know that the consequences are my own responsibility. I like it that way.
A. A move to a different state
B. Pregnancy, childbirth, or adoption of a child
C. A job change, including a hiring or firing
D. A major change in financial circumstances (good or bad)
E. A trip out of the country
F. The death of a parent
G. The death of a child
H. The death of a friend or other relative
I. The death of a beloved pet
J. A major health problem
K. Major surgery
L. An accident resulting in serious injury
M. A marriage
N. A divorce
O. A separation
P. Divorce or separation of your parents
Q. Health problems of your parents if they are under your care
S. Being the victim of a crime
T. A natural disaster (flood, tornado, hurricane, etc.)
U. A bout with depression
V. More than two panic attacks or episodes of severe anxiety
W. The development of an irrational fear
Score your quiz by giving yourself points according to the following:
If you scored between 25 and 40 points: If your stress level hasn’t already affected your mental and/or physical health, it might well affect either or both very soon. Get help immediately. Delegate responsibility to other family members or friends. Find someone to talk to (friends and/or a licensed mental health professional or counselor) about your feelings. Realize you can’t shoulder the burdens of the world on your own. If you aren’t involved in one already, begin a program of moderate physical exercise like mindful walking or movement meditation such as yoga. You need to engage in some serious mental and physical maintenance that slows down the pace. (But remember, in times when you’re feeling very low or depressed, physical activity through movement meditation might be better than sitting meditation.)
If you scored between 10 and 24 points: You certainly have stress in your life, and your stress levels are probably comparable to those of most active, involved people. Sometimes you feel completely overwhelmed by what life throws your way. Other times, you feel proudly in control of your life and circumstances. Meditation is the perfect mental maintenance activity to incorporate into your daily routine. It will strengthen your reserves and help you handle those over-the-top days with grace and serenity. It will also help you appreciate and live your life more fully, since you sometimes tend to switch on the auto pilot to function.
If you scored between 0 and 9 points: Somehow you’ve managed to create a life of ease and relaxed attention. You feel good about yourself and your life, and when stressful events happen, they don’t usually make you feel out of control. Maybe you’re already meditating and that’s your secret! If you aren’t, give it a try. Your frame of mind is such that you are primed for spiritual growth. All that daily junk isn’t getting in the way. Also, you never know what the future has in store for you. Adding resources to your already formidable stress-management arsenal will assure continued success in dealing with the challenges of life.
Now that you can see your stress level in black and white, you can start doing something about it. Stay calm and carry on!
From The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Meditation, Second Edition, by Joan Budilovsky and Eve Adamson