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With apologies for sounding like a high-school valedictorian discussing success, I’ll start at the top: Before you take a stress quiz, you need to know what stress is. Merriam-Webster says stress is a state “of bodily or mental tension resulting from factors that tend to alter an existent equilibrium.”
That means that if your life is disrupted to the point where you’re not functioning like yourself, you’re stressed. And that’s a worry because stress is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, chronic health issues, and mortality.
A good stress quiz will help you determine whether stress is harming you physically. It also will determine whether the stress is chronic (a gradual buildup, such as a marriage slowly falling apart) or acute (the death of a loved one).
In short, chronic, long-term stress can cause health-threatening physical changes. But by the end of a useful stress quiz, you should have ideas on how to control your stress and determine whether you need professional help.
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Effects of Stress
The reality of stress has been well documented. As psychologist Russ Newman, PhD, JD, American Psychological Association (APA) executive director, puts it, “Stress in America continues to escalate and is affecting every aspect of people’s lives—from work to personal relationships to sleep patterns and eating habits, as well as their health. We know that stress is a fact of life and some stress can have a positive impact; however, the high stress levels that many Americans report experiencing can have long-term health consequences, ranging from fatigue to obesity and heart disease.”
Can a Stress Quiz Reveal Your Stress Level?
The APA website offers some stress-quiz options that allow you to evaluate your life and determine your ability to handle everything from family stress to work stress to health risks.
Stress quiz choices include:
- Stress 360. This stress quiz looks at your lifestyle, work, attitude, and diet to determine your stress load.
- Stress Sensitivity Scale. While this stress quiz is still under analysis for clinical validation, it presents an interesting look at how vulnerable you are to stress.
- Workplace Stress Survey. This one presents a screening measure that focuses on your employment to determine whether further assessments are needed.
- Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory. More of an assessment than a stress quiz, this is a way to take a numerical look at the possible stresses in life. You write down the points associated with what you’ve endured, such as a change in your finances, and add up the score to determine your risk of a stress-induced health breakdown in the next two years.
- Stress and Well-Being Survey. Somewhat of a stress quiz/assessment, this option measures your stress management, adaptability, resilience, and emotional vitality. At the end, it offers management solutions to improve your well-being.
- But my favorite stress quiz wasn’t about whether I’m stressed or not. It helped me learn the true symptoms of stress. You can test your knowledge of symptoms by taking the APA’s Stress Smarts quiz.
SOURCES & RESOURCES
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Symptoms of Stress
The symptoms of stress are many. You may recognize more of these 25 symptoms than you’d care to admit:
- Anxiety, worry, guilt, or nervousness
- Anger, frustration, hostility, irritability, or edginess
- Changes in appetite (weight gain or loss)
- Chest pain, palpitations, or rapid pulse
- Cold, clammy, or sweaty hands or feet
- Constant tiredness, weakness, or fatigue
- Depression or wild mood swings (crying spells, suicidal thoughts)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Dry mouth or problems swallowing
- Feeling overloaded or overwhelmed
- Frequent blushing or sweating
- Heartburn, stomach pain, nausea, or other stomach upset
- Inability to make decisions
- Increased smoking, alcohol, drug use, compulsive behaviors, like gambling or shopping
- Lightheadedness, faintness, or dizziness
- Low libido
- Muscle aches and spasms (usually neck and back)
- Nervous habits like fidgeting, feet tapping, or tooth grinding
- Panic attacks
- Reduced work efficiency or productivity
- Ringing, buzzing, or “popping” sounds in the ears
- Sleeping too much or too little
- Social withdrawal and isolation
Coping with Stress
So stress is unavoidable—and again, some stress is good. (See our post Adrenaline: The Driver of “Fight or Flight” Response.) The trick is to manage your stress levels. The good news: With simple, inexpensive techniques, you can improve your ability to cope with daily problems.
The most powerful and effective stress-reducing tools include meditation, yoga, and mindfulness. These ancient stress relievers can calm your mind calm and refresh your body, releasing physical and emotional tension.
If you truly can’t wrap your self around these practices, go simple. Close your eyes and breathe deeply or take a walk. Even 10 minutes in the fresh air can help you cope. And the more exercise you incorporate in your life, the more stress you’ll release.
STRESS IN SCIENCE
In 2018 alone, several important studies have focused on stress, which isn’t too surprising when you realize that more than 25 percent of adults and 30 percent of teenagers feel stressed.
Shared stress: In a study in Nature Neuroscience, researchers at the Cumming School of Medicine’s Hotchkiss Brain Institute (HBI) at the University of Calgary found that stress transmitted from others can change the brain in the same way as a real stress does.
Relief in dark chocolate: The two studies presented at the 2018 Experimental Biology annual meeting show that consuming dark chocolate that has a high concentration of cacao (minimally 70 percent cacao, 30 percent organic cane sugar) has positive effects on stress levels, inflammation, mood, memory, and immunity.
Youth and stress: Stress in early childhood leads to faster maturation of certain brain regions during adolescence. In contrast, stress later in life leads to slower maturation of the adolescent brain. There may be a remedy, however. A study from Tulane University found that participating in yoga and mindfulness activities at school helps third-graders exhibiting anxiety improve their wellbeing and emotional health.
Increased vulnerability: Chronic stress experienced early in life increases vulnerability to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) later in life. Researchers describe finding that chronic stress induces a persistent increase in the hormone ghrelin (called the “hunger hormone”), both in a rat model and in human adolescents.
Sperm and stress: A father’s stress affects the brain development of his offspring. This stress changes the father’s sperm, which can then alter the brain development of the child. A similar study from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health and Rutgers School of Public Health, conducted four years earlier, found psychological stress is harmful to sperm and semen quality, affecting its concentration, appearance, and ability to fertilize an egg.
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