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Ch,Ch,Ch Changes?

Friday, January 25, 2013

“Nobody likes change except a wet baby” ~Mark Twain

I posted that as a status quote the other day and have been giving a lot of thought to change and being ready to change and making changes etc. etc. especially now that the “ra-ra” mentality and mega change resolutions of January 1st resolutions are fizzling for many.

I have been thinking a lot about the The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale that ranks life changes in terms of stress on a scale of 1 to 100.

You can read more about it and take a stress test at:

If you take a peek at the scale, you can see that “Death of a spouse” is ranked as “100” right above “Divorce” which is ranked as “73”

The last item on the scale is Christmas (yes, Christmas!) which is ranked as “11” You know what I mean:

In between there are a lot of other life events with stress scores attributed to them. Give it a go and look at the web site, check off the changes in your life and add up your “stress score.”

And by “changes” the test means positive or negative changes! Yes, that promotion ranks as an “Outstanding personal achievement” (ranks 28) while the “Change in working hours or conditions" it entails (ranks a 20) and the raise that goes along with it is a “Change in your financial state” (ranks 38)

Don’t laugh. In a psychology class once we did a case study of a man who committed suicide shortly after getting a whopping huge promotion, pay raise, perks etc. It happens.

Change is stressful. Change, positive or negative effects us. We are “creatures of habit” and we, along with the universe, love equilibrium.

Here is what your stress score correlates with:

Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).
Score less than 150: Only have a slight risk of illness.

So let’s say you have experienced a “Personal injury or Illness” that Sparks you to make some changes to your lifestyle. “Personal injury or Illness” ranks as a 53 on the scale.

You not going to do this half way. No sir!! So you pile on the changes to your lifestyle:

Revision of personal habits: 24
Change in recreation: 19
Change in social activities: 18
Change in sleeping habits: 16
Change in eating habits: 15

So right there, all those “positive changes” along with your “Personal injury or Illness” that made you want to change raises your stress score to 145.

So you make all these changes and then things fall apart.....

I see this scenario all the time in blogs:

Your spouse is not very supportive (he/she, along with the universe, loves equilibrium and status quo!) which leads to “Change in number of arguments with spouse” (ranks 35) This leads to some negative feedback from your in-laws (“Trouble with in-laws ranks 29) and a bit of coolness in the bedroom (“Sex difficulties” ranks 39)

Suddenly, you are at whopping score of 248!

Or perhaps all is well with the spouse, but you are trying to lose the baby weight (Gain of a new family member” ranks 39) so you quit your job so going from working Mom to stay at home Mom is a “Change to a different line of work” which ranks 36 which leads to “Change in financial state” which ranks 38)

Voila! Your psyche finds itself at a honking, huge stress score of 258!

So what do you do? Or rather what does your psyche do to help you relieve that stress?

You eliminate some of your stressors. Chances are you not going to ditch the new promotion or new found money, or in-laws or hubby or wife or new baby.

But...your subconscious, looking after your health in the short term and trying desperately to relieve some stress, is very resourceful and it CAN let you go back to your old comfy eating habits, drop the new forms of recreation or social activities which are taking up time and money thus relieve some of the pressure.

And then there is the blog to write about the guilt and stress from failing and not understanding WHY you can’t “white knuckle” it through the changes. Or worse, you give up and just become a Spark Ghost.

Oddly, “Failing to change” does not seem to have a place on the scale.

Personally I think they should add a new stress description to the ranks: “Guilt over wanting to change, but not being able to.”

I bet “Self Loathing” ranks pretty darn high on the stress scale also. I see a lot of guilt and self recrimination and self loathing on Spark blogs. I’ve expressed a fair amount of it myself in past blogs!

My stress score is actually pretty darn low right now, which is probably why I have the time and motivation to frame these thoughts and put them to pen.

What is your stress score today? Is it helping you to understand why this process is so difficult?

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(¸..•´ .•´ ¸¸.•¨¯`-:¦:
-:.... ¦:-•: •:*'*:•-:¦:-
.(¯`v´¯) Keep Spreading the Spark!
.`•.¸.•´... ¸.
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Post Script Edit:

Agree with Lisa. Scale is pretty thin on some of the more horrific "changes" people can experience. For example, Death of a Spouse" is a generic 100 on the scale, but a more specific "Spouse murdered" would be even higher. I'm sure the stress experienced by the Newton Parents for the death of their precious children would rank much higher the 63 ascribed to "Death of a close family member" and I think most health care providers recognize that immediately and intervene appropriately.

I think this an "everyday" stressors test to keep people aware of how "little things" can add up and cause unexpected consequences: e.g. you have a bad day at work and come home yell at the kids....or overeat. This sort of "transference" of stress is very common!

Violence on the scale of war would quickly blow the numbers out of the water I'm sure! (no pun intended!)
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Member Comments About This Blog Post
    This is such a telling way to measure changes! Of course, as you incorporate the new fitness, social, and sleep changes into everyday life, they become "normal" and the stress level should drop. That's why it is so important to make this a lifestyle change. Yo-yo-ing back and forth keeps us off balance, and that is also stressful.
    Thanks for your insight!

    1945 days ago
    I want to be like Barb!!!
    1945 days ago
  • BOSS61
    Checking in with 41. Did not the Allman Brothers sing about Highway-41 in Ramblin' Man?
    1947 days ago
  • GINNJEN1974
    LOL nobody likes change and this blog was very informative. Scared to take that test though I always seem to be under stress at least according to the docs.
    1947 days ago
    No worries! You expressed thoughts I had while writing the piece. And I think "Christmas" narrows the list just a bit don't you think?

    "Big Celebrations/Holidays" maybe? emoticon
    1947 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/26/2013 8:00:55 AM
  • LE7_1234
    LOL! Michelle, I didn't think you needed to add a post-script to account for the shortcomings in someone else's list!!

    1947 days ago
  • LE7_1234
    After my initial push to change a bunch of habits all at once, I've been adding changes pretty gradually. Less stress, longer lasting!

    My current stress level seems pretty low, according to this. Which is more or less the case. Though I don't see "war, armed conflict, or otherwise living in the headlines" on the list... And I'm not sure how they can ask if any of the following has happened within the last two years and include Christmas....
    1947 days ago

    Comment edited on: 1/26/2013 5:54:35 AM
    I had a score of zero. The list probably needs to be expanded. emoticon
    1947 days ago
    Stress happens!
    1947 days ago
    Ugh...I was just reminded about all the change I been though the past 11 years. No wonder why my shoulders are like two bricks. That is where my stress falls on my person.
    1947 days ago
  • 68ANNE
    Humm 224. Slight chance. Many are one time things though so it should get better. Thank you very much. Insightful and I love that subconscious dragging you back to old stuff.
    1947 days ago
    309! Curious what kind of illness they're talking about... mental illness? Flu? Already dealing with those. But should I be concerned that something more sinister might be lurking around the corner?
    1948 days ago
    Great blog. I find myself very low on the change stress (same old same old). My major stresses stem from deadlines that I'm running late on.
    1948 days ago
    Stress test goes on my list of things to do once I get home- hubby and I have a few hours break from the kids on Friday nights... Thanks for putting this in perspective! Am having a terrible time being my usual sunny self lately (okay, sunny but snide).
    1948 days ago
    Great job!!! Keep Sparkin'!!!
    1948 days ago
    wow what a great blog.

    I'm going to take that test.
    1948 days ago
    This is a WONDERFUL blog. I administer stress assessments, and people are often astounded at how much stress they actually subject themselves to. You did such a good thing by taking the initiative to do this for yourself.
    1948 days ago
    Mine was shocking low 150
    1948 days ago
    Oh Michelle. This is fascinating, but I'm terrified to even take the test. I have a funny feeling my stress score will be off the charts! Anyway, I'm so glad yours is low and that you are in such a good place. It's really great to see.
    1948 days ago
    I love your Mark Twain quote! I will have to take the stress test later LOL
    1948 days ago
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