Tired, grumpy and worried? All classic signs that stress is starting to impact your day-to-day enjoyment of life.
Stress has become such a normal word in our daily conversations - how many times have you heard "That really stresses me out!) or "I'm so stressed right now"? But actually these often refer to niggly things that crop up in our lives momentarily and then pass over without too much extra thought.
Significant stress-related problems can start when we feel under constant tension or pressure. That's when moments of stress start to mash together until you feel like you're always "on". This constant emotional alertness can mess with your physical wellness as well as your mental health; changes in blood pressure and blood sugar levels, disrupted sleep, downregulated digestion, libido and immunity are all classic signs your body is being pushed to the edge by constant tension.
While we know we need a certain amount of stress to motivate us to get things done - there's a tipping point. And more of us are sliding over into negative stress territory than ever before.
At any given time, one in five New Zealanders is experiencing symptoms of stress, anxiousness and feeling overwhelmed. That's 750,000 people...
So, how do you tell if you're heading out of the positive stress zone and sliding into negative territory? There's a few clear
physical and emotional symptoms that can give markers of how we're tracking. Here's a simple quiz - adapted from a scale developed at
the University of New South Wales -for a quick stress check up .
Take the quiz: answer based on how much each statement applied to you OVER THE PAST WEEK.
Give yourself a rating from 1 to 4 where
- 1 = not at all
- 2 = sometimes
- 3 = frequently
- 4 = most of the time
1. I found myself getting upset by quite trivial things.
2. I was aware of dryness in my mouth.
3. I noticed I was breathing fast.
4. I tended to over react to situations.
5. I had a feeling of shakiness, like my legs were going to give way.
6. I found myself getting upset rather easily.
7. I found myself getting impatient when I was delayed in any way e.g. traffic lights, queues, people keeping me waiting.
8. I perspired noticeably, like with sweaty palms, even when I wasn't doing anything physical.
9. I felt scared without any good reason.
10. I was aware of my heart rate, even though I wasn't doing anything physical.
11. I found that I was very irritable.
12. I felt I was close to panic.
13. I found it hard to calm down after something upset me.
14. I found it difficult to tolerate interruptions to what I was doing.
15. I was in a state of nervous tension with what I was doing.
16. I was worried about situations where I might panic and make a fool of myself.
How are your stress levels?
Check out how you're tracking by adding up your scores and see where you're at below.
Just a note that this quiz is NOT a diagnostic tool - we leave that to the mental health professionals! It's simply to bring awareness to how you may be experiencing symptoms of stress.
Score of 16 - 21
Your low score suggests you experience low levels of anxiety and an average amount of stress in your life. Sometimes you may find it hard to relax, which can make you irritable and emotional. However, when situations make you anxious, you show good control over your physical reactions.
Score of 22 - 42
Your score suggests you're experiencing an average amount of stress in your life. Though you're often able to manage stressful experiences, sometimes you find it hard to relax. This can make you irritable, emotional and, in some situations, can make you feel anxious. Occasionally, you may notice physical symptoms such as a racing heart or shallow breathing.
Score of 43 - 64
Your score suggests you're experiencing a lot of stress and many anxious feelings in your life. You may find it hard to relax, which can make you irritable and emotional. Feeling this way causes you to be tense and makes it hard to be flexible when meeting daily challenges. There are some situations that can cause you to feel very anxious. When you are anxious, you may notice physical symptoms like a racing heart, shallow breathing or sweaty palms.
Disclaimer: This blog post is for educational purposes only. It is not designed to diagnose, treat or cure any disease.