Take the following quiz to determine your stress level.

Check out your quiz results.

Let’s see how you measured up on your stress assessment! Here are the average scores according to age, gender and marital status.  Higher than average scores indicate problematic stress reactions:

 

AGE

 

GENDER

 

            MARITAL STATUS

18-29 14.2       Men 12.1             Married 12.4
30-44 13.0       Women 13.7             Widowed 12.6
45-54 12.6             Single 14.1
55-64 11.9             Divorced 14.7
55 and over 12.0             Separated 16.6

Source: Adler J. (1999, June 14). How stress attacks you. Newsweek, pp. 58-63

 

At Christian Counseling Associates, we have witnessed how stress can trigger a “breaking point” with physical, emotional or even spiritual consequences. Poor reactions from stress many times becomes evident gradually over long periods of time. The need for help is usually not acknowledged until poor stress management results in reaching an emotional crisis level. Often this “crisis” gets labeled as a “breakdown” or a “panic attack.” Undoubtedly, stress plays a role in the development of disordered emotional patterns such as generalized anxiety, depression, panic attacks and trauma. Inevitably, it can affect our physical well being, as well as negatively impact our most important relationships.

Unfortunately, stress in life is inevitable. We all have to deal with it. The interesting dynamic with stress is how stress is handled differently from individual to individual. So what’s the difference? Why do some deal with serious life crises effectively, while others in the same situation are brought to the brink? The answer can be complex; but one factor is how we learn to view our life and our circumstances.

Doctors and philosophers have been concerned about the impact of stress for thousands of years. Ancient philosophers such as Hippocrates reflected about the nature of stress (Myers & Dewall, 2016). Early physicians like Walter Cannon in the 1920s worked to identify how stress was connected to physical health; he identified hormones like epinephrine and norepinephrine that were triggered by everyday life situations (Cannon, 1929).

Today a general misconception exists which leads us to believe that negative life events cause the reactions which we refer to as “stress.” Under this assumption, it may seem like a good idea to avoid life’s challenges, embrace leisure, or even back away from difficult responsibilities. Research demonstrates that a person’s body can resist stress for a period of time before it becomes exhausted, or vulnerable to illness (Selye, 1976). It’s this exhaustion phase where we start to experience a breakdown physically and emotionally. But we find that it’s not the situation that is the main cause for reaching the stress breaking point. Some of us are stress resistant, even under extremely adverse conditions.

Life situations are not directly responsible
for the harmful impacts of stress.

Reacting to stress is a process by which we perceive and respond to certain events, called stressors, that we appraise as threatening or challenging. There is a wealth of available research that demonstrates that stressful or traumatic events are not the only factors responsible for the harmful impact of stress. Rather it is the way we perceive or what we believe about stressors, that define how long and how well we can manage stress before becoming ill (Lazarus, 1998).

“My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials,
knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.
But let patience have its perfect work,
that you may be perfect and complete,
lacking nothing.”

James 1:2-4

A lifestyle that is guided by faith can make the difference in how we experience a stressful situation. See the example below of facing a major job change, and how faith shifts our perception from threat to challenge while dramatically affecting our reaction.

 

The apostle Paul was inspired by God to write these words while in prison.  This is a perfect example of how a life centered on Jesus can change our outlook:  

“Rejoice in the Lord always. Again I will say, rejoice! Let your gentleness be known to all men. The Lord is at hand.  Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:4-7

Appraising life events in a healthy hope-filled manner, involves the foundation of faith and belief.  Maturing in Christ develops our ability to see life from this perspective.  Are your life circumstances becoming overwhelming? Struggling with anxiety, depression, panic or post-traumatic stress?  Are you experiencing significant symptoms even though taking psychiatric medications?  Reach out for help today.

Connect with you community of faith.  Ask others to pray with you.  Seek transformation from the Lord who has the power to guard your heart and mind.  Christian Counseling Associates can also help with comprehensive faith-based counseling.  Our staff are experts in stress management interventions which can help you manage life better.  Call us today at 724-396-1510.

 

References:

Adler J. (1999, June 14). How stress attacks you. Newsweek, pp. 58-63

Cannon, W. (1929). Bodily changes in pain, hunger, fear, and rage. New York: Branford.

Lazarus, R. S. (1998). Fifty years of the research and theory of R. S. Lazarus: An analysis of historical and perennial issues. Mahwah, NJ: Erlbaum.

Myers, D. G. (2016). Exploring Psychology. New York: Worth.

Selye, H. (1976). The stress of life. New York: McGraw-Hill.

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