What’s Your Stress Score (And Why Should You Care?)

You don’t need a quiz to tell you there’s stress in your life.

That’s true always and forever.

But it can be helpful to better understand how that stress makes you feel—and how well you’re coping with it.

Because there are no “objective” stressors. Whether it’s work, finances, family, health, or any other potential life challenge, everyone will experience the same struggles differently.

That’s why this quiz measures your perception of stressors.

How you experience them. How you navigate them. And what they mean to you.

Because it’s your stress response—how skillfully and robustly you can navigate challenges, return to baseline, or even grow—that actually determines the outcome.

You can’t control what life throws at you.

But you can master the skills of working through it.

You can practice anticipating and planning for expected stressors, such as work or a new baby. And you can learn to adapt and grow stronger from unexpected stressors, too.

Over time, with repeating key self-care and stress-management behaviors, you’ll get better at handling life’s many curveballs—and ultimately, build enough resilience and reserve to tackle bigger aspirations that may feel far off right now.

Take this quiz to gauge your stress perception. Then keep reading for a proven strategy that can help you get on the path to feeling better.

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1. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

2. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

3. In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and stressed?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

4. In the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all of the things that you had to do?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

5. In the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that happened that were outside of your control?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

6. In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?

  • Never – 0 points
  • Almost never – 1 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 3 point
  • Very often – 4 point

7. In the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?

  • Never – 4 points
  • Almost never – 3 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 1 point
  • Very often – 0 point

8. In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?

  • Never – 4 points
  • Almost never – 3 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 1 point
  • Very often – 0 point

9. In the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?

  • Never – 4 points
  • Almost never – 3 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 1 point
  • Very often – 0 point

10. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?

  • Never – 4 points
  • Almost never – 3 point
  • Sometimes – 2 point
  • Fairly often – 1 point
  • Very often – 0 point

Your score: out of 40

On a scale of 0 (“I’m chillin”) to 40 (“I’m freaking out”), the stress score1 above represents your stress management baseline. It’s a good indicator of your overall stress load as well as how effectively you’re coping with it. Make sure you answered each of the questions so your score is accurate.

Now, what do you do with your stress score?

If you feel ready, you can try to improve it. Here’s a strategy to get you started.

Try the stress audit:

Sketch out three columns.

▶ In the first column, list all the challenging or stressful events you’ve experienced in the last year or two.

Some of those were probably really hard to go through. While you were “in it,” it might have been hard to see your way out. But here you are.

Others may have seemed “silly,” and you might wonder why they bothered you so much. Don’t judge what upset you. Remember, there are no “objective” stressors that feel exactly the same to everyone.

Just capture what happened, with an attitude of compassionate curiosity.

▶ In the second column, note what you learned from these events.

What skills were you forced to develop, and what wisdom did you gain from them?

Did these events ask you to “rewrite your life story” or update some core beliefs? How so?

▶ In the third column, list the resources that helped you (or could have helped you) manage and overcome these challenges.

What knowledge, personal strengths, emotional resilience, or social support did you draw on?

What gaps remain—for example, what support do you wish you’d had but didn’t?

Which resources are personal (such as your own daily habits) and which are larger or structural (such as the neighborhood you live in, or a community group you belong to)?

Consider what you have in front of you.

Sure, there are some experiences we would never wish to repeat, and not all stressful events make us stronger. (It’s very important to distinguish between healthy stressors and burnout or traumas.)

But you might notice that many challenges—even the unwelcome ones—serve you in the long term, making you more compassionate, gritty, or wise. They’re opportunities to “revise and refresh” stale old stories that no longer serve you, or to look at life in new ways.

When you consider current or future challenges, draw on this list.

  • What can you borrow from previous experiences that might help you?
  • Are there any areas that you might want to develop to help you feel better equipped?
  • How could you use your experiences to help alleviate the suffering of others?

When you believe your ability to cope matches or exceeds the demand of a situation, you’re more likely to look at that situation as a challenge rather than a threat. Put another way: That stressor doesn’t feel so… stressful.

Feeling prepared and well-resourced helps you approach growth opportunities—like setting health and fitness goals or finally planning that trip that got postponed—and make life’s inevitable flash storms feel a lot less scary.

References

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