For many people, stress levels go hand-in-hand with getting ill. Some stress is good for us, but when it is prolonged, stress is very bad for our health. We are simply not put together to deal with the kind of stressors that modern life often imposes on us.
There is no doubt that a shock or prolonged stress has a huge impact on our immune systems, but can this be measured in any way?
As far back as 1967, two psychiatrists, Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe, researched the causal link between stress and illness. What they came up with is called (you guessed it) the Holmes and Rahe stress scale. It lists life events in order of the stress levels they cause.
Below is the scale. Check to see how many of these stresses you have experienced in the last year, and see how high your risk is of becoming ill. The more of these stressors you have experienced, the bigger your risk. Also check out the stress management tips at the end of this article.
|Life event||Life change units|
|Death of a spouse||100|
|Death of a close family member||63|
|Personal injury or illness||53|
|Dismissal from work||47|
|Change in health of family member||44|
|Gain a new family member||39|
|Change in financial state||38|
|Change in frequency of arguments||35|
|Foreclosure of mortgage or loan||30|
|Change in responsibilities at work||29|
|Child leaving home||29|
|Trouble with in-laws||29|
|Outstanding personal achievement||28|
|Spouse starts or stops work||26|
|Begin or end school||26|
|Change in living conditions||25|
|Revision of personal habits||24|
|Trouble with boss||23|
|Change in working hours or conditions||20|
|Change in residence||20|
|Change in schools||20|
|Change in recreation||19|
|Change in church activities||19|
|Change in social activities||18|
|Minor mortgage or loan||17|
|Change in sleeping habits||16|
|Change in number of family reunions||15|
|Change in eating habits||15|
|Minor violation of law||11|
Score of 300+: At risk of illness.
Score of 150-299+: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).
Score 150-: Only has a slight risk of illness.
(Susan Erasmus, Health24, updated July 2013)
(Sources: nih.gov; health24.com; wikipedia.com)