Stress Points, the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Scale

Out of observations about the timing of life events and major illness came the Holmes and Rahe Social Readjustment Scale, devised in 1967 by Thomas H. Holmes, MD, and Richard H. Rahe, MD, at the University of Washington School of Medicine. This scale lists important life changes ranging in severity from death of a spouse to minor violations of the law. Each life change is assigned a value according to the magnitude of the adaptation
response it evokes. Thus, the death of a spouse is four times harder to adjust to than beginning or ending school.

 Several psychiatrists  began to keep detailed biographical and medical histories of
thousands of patients. The found that major illnesses such as heart disease, ulcers, and psychiatric problems often occurred after major life changes. (This may happen because stress seems  generally to weaken the immune system and decrease resistance to illness. Certain stressors or our responses to them may cause such specific changes as an increase in stomach acid secretion.)

There is a system which gives points to each stressful event in a persons life, many events both negative and positive have an impact on our stress  levels .

When you get above a certain level of stress in a year or in three years you are very likely to experience illness, emotional or mental disturbance, increased anger etc. While most of these life stress charts do not list events such as terrorist attacks ,declarations of war and
so forth, I think that there is no doubt that these kind of event  put most of us well over the manageable amount of stress for the year.

While the list below does not contain the particular events that have brought many currently  into what might be called a stress crisis I think it is useful to help get an idea of the stress each of us is under now.  I have found that often simply being aware of how many stress points you have accumulated is enough to significantly reduce the stress in your life  . because knowing that your reaction is in the normal  expectation can be  a great worry reliever  by itself.

In the past 12 months, which of the following major life events have taken place in your life.

1. Print out this form

2. Make a mark next to each event that you have experienced this year.

3. When you're done, add up the points for each event.

4. Check your score at the bottom.

_____ Death of Spouse 100
_____ Divorce 73
_____ Marital Separation 65
_____ Jail Term 63
_____ Death of close family member 63
_____ Personal injury or illness 53
_____ Marriage 50
_____ Fired from work 47
_____ Marital reconciliation 45
_____ Retirement 45
_____ Change in family member's health 44
_____ Pregnancy 40
_____ Sex difficulties 39
_____ Addition to family 39
_____ Business readjustment 39
_____ Change in financial status 38
_____ Death of close friend 37
_____ Change to a different line of work 36
_____ Change in number of marital arguments 35
_____ Mortgage or loan over $10,000 31
_____ Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
_____ Change in work responsibilities 29
_____ Trouble with inlaws 29
_____ Outstanding personal achievement 28
_____ Spouse begins or stops work 26
_____ Starting or finishing school 26
_____ Change in living conditions 25
_____ Revision of personal habits 24
_____ Trouble with boss 23
_____ Change in work hours, conditions 20
_____ Change in residence 20
_____ Change in schools 20
_____ Change in recreational habits 19
_____ Change in church activities 19
_____ Change in social activities 18
_____ Mortgage or loan under $10,000 17
_____ Change in sleeping habits 16
_____ Change in number of family gatherings 15
_____ Change in eating habits 15
_____ Vacation 13
_____ Christmas season 12
_____ Minor violations of the law 11

______ Your Total Score

This scale shows the kind of life pressure that you are facing.
Depending on your coping skills or the lack thereof,
this scale can predict the likelihood that you will fall victim to a
stress related illness. The illness could be mild -
frequent tension headaches, acid indigestion, loss of sleep to very
serious illness like ulcers, cancer, migraines and
the like.


0-149 Low susceptibility to stress related illness

150-299 Medium susceptibility to stress related illness.

Learn and practice relaxation and stress management skills and a healthy
well life style.

300 and over High susceptibility to stress related illness

Daily practice of relaxation skills is very important for your wellness.
Take care of it now before a serious illness erupts or an affliction
becomes worse.
The recommended treatments are usually to be very self nurturing, to
avoid additional stress as much as possible and to limit the amount of
additional changes you make in your life as much as is reasonable.

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