Everyone says they're stressed these days, but not everyone could possibly mean the same thing by it. For some people, "stressed" means mildly irritated by a busier than average day. For others, it means "I am millimeters from mental and physical collapse."
Stress also affects different people differently. What counts as adrenaline-pumping exhilaration for one person feels like debilitating, nerve-destroying torture to another.
So when you say "I'm stressed" exactly how stressed do you mean? Should you worry or understand this is just another hectic day in the modern world? Now you have an objective way to tell just how stressed you are when you say "I'm stressed."
Is it time to start worrying about your stress levels?
This 10-question quiz was created by INSEAD professor Manfred F. R. Kets de Vries and is designed to tell you exactly how close to the breaking point you are. If you answer yes to six or more of these questions, you might want to start worrying about your stress levels and take action.
Do you feel that your life is out of control and that you have too many things on your plate?
Do you often feel confused, anxious, irritable, fatigued, or physically debilitated?
Are you having increased interpersonal conflicts (e.g. with your spouse, children, other family members, friends, or colleagues)?
Do you feel that negative thoughts and feelings are affecting how you function at home or at work?
Is your work or home life no longer giving you any pleasure?
Do you feel overwhelmed by the demands of emails, messaging tools, and social media?
Do you feel that your life has become a never-ending treadmill?
Are you prone to serious pangs of guilt every time you try to relax?
Have you recently experienced a life-altering event, such as a change of marital status, new work responsibilities, job loss, retirement, financial difficulties, injury, illness, or death in the family?
When you are stressed out, do you feel that you have nobody to talk to?
OK, I'm stressed. What should I do about it?
If you've tallied up your answers and your score is alarming you, it's time to take action, says Kets de Vries. In an accompanying INSEAD Knowledge post he offers a long list of ways to start to cope with your stress, while underlining that the first step is always figuring out why you're so worn down in the first place. His recommendations include popular favorites like more exercise, meditation, taking up a hobby, and volunteering.
While all of these are excellent ways to enrich your life and battle your stress, it's also worth noting that Stanford research shows our attitude towards stress has a lot to do with how badly we're affected by it. In many cases, simply re-imagining your stress not as a performance-killing, health-eroding menace, but instead as a helpful, evolved response to short-term challenges can seriously reduce the toll it takes on your body and mind.
In other cases, however, mental gymnastics are not going to cut it. Sometimes your situation really is bad and you need to figure out how to rejigger your schedule, your job responsibilities (or even get out of there entirely), or your personal situation. But whatever the solution you eventually find, the first step to tackling stress is figuring out how bad the situation is. So take the audit and get started.