Most online stress measurement tools use an "life-event" method to determine your stress levels. If you have a divorce, a job loss or major illness; you are considered to have high stress levels. However, the problem with this approach is that it does not measure our daily activities and how we react to this. We may have a boss that we do not like or our stress related to specific relationships may be increasing in small but significant measures.
The best analogy I found for stress assessment is that of RPE - (Rating of Perceived Exertion by Borg) to measure the intensity of your daily exercise routine. Instead of using a heart-monitor or trying to measure your pulse, you can estimate the intensity of your exercise by how hard you feel you are working out. You give yourself a rating of 6-20 - 6 being no exertion at all and 20 being very intense exercise. Typical walking can have RPE levels of 9-12 while intense aerobics may cause you to give a rating 16-19. While this may seem subjective, your mind is pretty good at assessing your exercise intensity. These measures are often as sensitive as heart monitors or pulse counter techniques.
A similar method is used to assess your stress levels. Dr. Sheldon Cohen of Carnegie Mellon University pioneered in a unique self-assessment technique for stress called PSS (Perceived Stress Scale). Similar to RPE above, you are asked to estimate your own level of stress based on the uncertainty, lack of control and overload that exists in various areas of your life. Here are two websites that give help you self-assess your stress levels based on Dr. Cohen's technique.
Try this Stress Vulnerability Self-Test online
You may also have a hard copy printed out from the MindGarden.com website and use it to assess your stress levels during the week.
The University of Minnesota - Twin Cities campus offers an online screening for depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, generalized anxiety, post-traumatic stress, and alcohol.
The bottom line - the few minutes you take to become aware of your stress levels and the causes for it - actually will help you lower your stress levels. These free screenings are taken anonymously. I suggest you use your browser in incognito mode when you do this test, if you wish complete privacy.
Please remember these tests and screenings are not a substitute for a clinical evaluation.
Contact a health professional for more information and a complete exam.
Do you have your own method of assessing your stress levels? I would love to hear about it!
Anxiety is an emotion we all feel from time to time--sometimes for good reasons, and sometimes not so much. Anxiety is one of the strongest emotions we feel, and it can provide us with motivation, power, push, and drive.
Human brain has evolved uniquely for us to look at the future and review the past. Mother Nature also has provided us with a negative bias. Clearly, these adaptions have helped us survive as a species. Anxiety often comes when our brain creates images of our future that can be scary (remember our inherent negative bias).
At its worst, anxiety can be incredibly frustrating and challenging, we can experience debilitating fear, worry and nervousness. At its best, however, anxiety is an emotion that can fuel us to great success--and ultimately, even happiness--so long as we control the anxiety we feel, and don't let it control us.
Anxiety often can help us pay attention to detail and provide us energy to push through roadblocks. I always remind myself that anxiety and excitement have the same physical “symptoms”, the only difference is the thoughts we have. Change your thoughts and you can change anxiety to excitement!
Want to learn how to turn your anxiety into success? Here are 3 steps to do just that.
Step One - Pause
Naturally, the most straightforward thing to do is simply to observe your anxiety. For most of us, anxiety manifests in form of rapid heart rates, breathing and sweating. One of my students, a busy executive, sits down and writes a blessing “May I be happy and peaceful” and puts his palms over his belly and just observes his breath. This pause often interrupts our negative bias.
Step 2 - Reflect
A nurse friend of mine grabs a pad of paper and writes what is worrying her. The act of writing slows down her thinking and she is able to look at her fears with a more balanced perspective. Write the worst thing that can happen and then look at other possible outcomes. Sometimes, it helps to talk with trusted colleague, friend or family member.
Step 3 - Act
Physical activity is an important step for most of us. In many cases, I will walk out of my office and go for a walk around the block. If the weather is not favorable, I will walk up and down the staircase. Another friend likes to use the coloring book for 5-10 minutes. Dancing to your favorite relaxing music can be powerful. Many of my students like to use “Blessing Meditation” Check this link out for more details.
Be patient and kind to yourself. Gently remind yourself “This too shall pass”. The more you take time to practice these three steps Pause, Reflect and Act”, you will be able to train your brain for love, peace and joy. Send me your questions and comments!
Disclaimer: One in five Americans suffer from anxiety disorders. It's not uncommon for someone with an anxiety disorder to also suffer from depression or vice versa. Nearly one-half of those diagnosed with depression are also diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Anxiety disorders are highly treatable, yet one in three of those suffering receive treatment. Check your healthcare provider and local health department for resources.
a guided finger meditation
Engage your senses with soothing music, guided imagery and a labyrinth tracing activity which leverages the power of touch. Click the album cover to learn more.