Health & Wellness Articles

The Stress Test

How Vulnerable Are You?

In today’s society, most of us can’t avoid stress. But we can learn to behave in ways that lesson its effects. Researchers have identified a number of factors that affect one’s vulnerability to stress- among them are eating and sleeping habits, caffeine and alcohol intake, and how we express our emotions. 

The following questionnaire is designed to help you discover your vulnerability to stress. Rate each item from 1 (always) to 5 (never), according to how much of the time the statement is true of you. Be sure to mark each item, even if it does not apply to you (for example, if you don’t smoke, circle 1 next to item six). 

  Always Sometimes Never
1. I eat at least one hot, balanced meal a day 1 2 3 4 5
2. I get seven to eight hours of sleep at least four nights a week. 1 2 3 4 5
3. I give and receive affection regularly. 1 2 3 4 5
4. I have at least one relative within 50 miles on whom I can rely. 1 2 3 4 5
5. I exercise to the point of perspiration at least twice a week. 1 2 3 4 5
6. I avoid tobacco use (cigarettes, pipes, cigars, snuff and chewing tobacco). 1 2 3 4 5
7. I have fewer than 5 alcohol drinks a week. 1 2 3 4 5
8. I am the appropriate weight for my height. 1 2 3 4 5
9. I have an income adequate to meet basic expenses. 1 2 3 4 5
10. I get strength from my religious beliefs. 1 2 3 4 5
11. I regularly attend club or social activities. 1 2 3 4 5
12. I have a network of friends and acquaintances. 1 2 3 4 5
13. I have one or more friends to confide in about personal matters. 1 2 3 4 5
14. I am in good health (including eyesight, hearing and teeth). 1 2 3 4 5
15. I am able to speak openly about my feelings when angry or worried. 1 2 3 4 5
16. I have regular conversations with the people I live with about domestic problems (e.g. chores, money and daily living issues). 1 2 3 4 5
17. I do something for fun at least once a week. 1 2 3 4 5
18. I am able to organize my time effectively. 1 2 3 4 5
19. I drink fewer than 3 cups of coffee (or tea or cola) a day. 1 2 3 4 5
20. I take some quiet time for myself during the day. 1 2 3 4 5
21. I have an optimistic outlook on life. 1 2 3 4 5
22. I am able to forgive old hurts, embarrassments, and insults. 1 2 3 4 5

Interpretation of scores: 
Below 50 = Indicates excellent resistance to stress. 
50-80       = Indicates some vulnerability to stress. 
Over 80   = You are seriously vulnerable to stress. 

You can make yourself less vulnerable by reviewing the items on which you scored 3 or higher and trying to modify them. Notice that nearly all of them describe situations and behaviors over which you have a great deal of control. Concentrate first on those that are easiest to change- for example, eating a hot, balance meal daily and having fun at least once a week- before tackling those that seem difficult. 

Source: University of California, Berkeley Wellness Letter, August 1985. Scale Developers: Lyle Miller and Alma Dell Smith of Boston University Medical Center.

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Member Comments

  • Wow! I knew I was stressed, but not how badly! Thank you for sharing this eye-opener!
  • I don't really see myself stressed out and scarcely think my lack of a desire to be social will contribute to being stressed, on the contrary not having to put up with the childish behavior of many adults makes my life much much more stress free
  • Oh, one other thing - *RELATIVES*? Why not *friends* being mentioned - only RELATIVES? What about those with extremely dysfunctional....
    ..aka the "Jerry Springer Show' guest-type of families? You have to know there are *many* real families out there in the real world - can good friends be just as effective? I don't like to have only one option mentioned as the *only* way to go!
  • What 's the deal about a *HOT" meal? Really - how crucial is this, anyhow? Many has been the time I've subsisted on cold meals and I don't see myself being any more stressed due to that fact - often it's been the best, quickest and/or most convenient food available at the time.......and that choice has frequently *reduced* a stress trigger!
  • WooHoo...I scored 45!
  • MRE1956
    Why the emphasis on *hot* meals in question #1? Don't get it.....
  • I scored 49 on the test. I'm surprised because I sometimes feel so stressed out that I'm going to crack. This also opened my eyes to the fact that I also have a lot of good things in my life so perhaps my focus on the unimportant stuff is the real problem.
  • I also have adrenal fatigue...and I only scored a 20. I'm not sure I agree with how each thing is weighted, at least for my particular condition. Furthermore, I've only made these lifestyle changes since the onset of the AF. So perhaps I would have scored much higher before my illness.
  • Wow, guess I have some issues! 83 points ouch, I didn't realize that I was this bad...
    I scored 26 and the only reason it is that high is because I am not quite at the weight I want to be. I have a committed practice of living stress free and it seems to have become quite effective. Yea! Life is good!!!
    I'm happy to see that I scored 1 or 2 on most items, and the ones I scored 3 I'm already working on. I've stumbled a bit on the question on religious beliefs. I'm not religious, but I also have spiritual and philosophical beliefs to draw strength from. I gave myself a "1" on that question but I wish the wording would be inclusive of all people, religious or not.
  • I thought this was a great article, too. It's helpful to realize that we can take better control of many of the stresses in our lives, freeing us up to better figure out how to deal with the ones we can't control.
  • I was surprised by my results -- I FEEL stressed alot and thought I would score poorly. But what I realized was that I DO have a great support system but I don't use it enough. And I rarely take time for myself. I really need to work on those areas. Great article.
    I took the Stress Test and was disappointed to see that my biggest stresser was not listed -- too many family members depend on me to help make their life a happy one. I'm always put in a position where I'm doing for everyone else -- everyone seems to think I can continue to handle it all and I'm tired of putting everyone else first.
  • I didn't do so badly on the test, so I guess it's not really stress that is a problem for me but possibly SAD. I didn't realise that not having a supportive, reliable relative within 50 miles could be a source of stress - both my husband and I have our families living abroad, so thousands of miles away, so now we know what we are missing....