Some coping strategies are better than others. In fact, some strategies can be as harmful as the stress they are used to combat. The following stress test was complied by clinicians who wanted to identify how people coped with stress effectively.
This scale is an educational tool, not a clinical instrument. It's purpose is to inform you, the reader, of ways in which you can effectively and healthfully cope with the stress in your life. At the same time, through a point system, it can give you some indication of the relative desirability of the coping strategies you are currently using.
Sources of Stress
There is no escape! Stress is the stuff life is made of. It is a basic and necessary ingredient to individual growth and development. As we grow personally and professionally, we move out of our zone of comfort into the unknown. As we confront this unknown territory we feel stress. Stress can result from:
- Internal or External - Are you a Type "A" personality?
- Cultural Sources - Racism/sexism; crime/political scandal; economic woes
- Job/Class Load - Lack of effective or appropriate job/learning skills; concentration problems; losing a job or failing a course.
- Personal/Social - New school/new town/new people; family conflicts/relationship problems; indecision about career choices/finances
- Spiritual - Personal doubts/guilt; no sense of joy; lack of meaning to life.
Signs/Symptoms of Stress
While some stress is necessary to get us out of bed in the morning, severe stress raises signals that indicate an unhealthy situation is in the making.
If you see the following symptoms in yourself or a friend, it might be time to talk to someone.
- Behavioral Changes: sleeplessness; social withdrawal; crying for no reason; over-activity; can't relax; excessive worry; excessive pacing; missing class or work; unusual aggressiveness or passivity; can't concentrate.
- Physical System Signs: fatigue; stomach problems; headaches; weight fluctuations; over or under eating; heart palpitations; skin disorders; dizziness; insomnia; excessive sweating; frequent need to urinate.
- Drug Use and Abuse: getting drunk every night; overuse of nicotine and caffeine; drug use; excessive use of over-the-counter medications or prescription drugs.
- Personal References: "not sure I can handle it;" "my parents will be very upset;" "can't seem to get going;" "I don't understand why I'm tired and angry all the time;" "no one seems to care or understand."
- Stated Requests for Help: letting another person know that help is needed; expressions of extreme anger or sadness; feelings of helplessness and hopelessness; free floating anxiety.
- References to Suicide: "everything is so hopeless;" "life isn't worth the hassle;" "they'd be sorry if I wasn't around;" "think I'll just drive into a wall."
Remember: People are different and react to tension, change, and conflict in different ways. Be alert to diversity of response.