How much stress do you have in your life?

Stress can impact most, if not all areas of our lives. Every day. In fact, even things that we typically see as good, such as a new relationship or doing something exciting, add stress to our lives. 

No one has no stress (unless we are unconscious, and even then our brains and bodies can experience stress - nightmares, anyone?). Additionally, stress is a very individual and often internal experience. Other people might not know how stressed we are just by looking at us.

One helpful way to measure how stressed you are is using a Subjective Units of Distress Scale (SUDS). Using SUDS allows us to compare our stress levels across events, and at different times of the day. It's a technique psychologists and other counsellors often use, so we can accurately understand someone's internal experience. A SUDS scale can be 0-100 or 0-10. I prefer 0-10 for simplicity (and because I work with a lot of children, not all who can easily count to 100!). Generally, 0 = no distress (comatose) and 10 = extreme distress.

So, back to no one has no stress. Average, everyday stress levels for the average, everyday person could be about 3/10. Enough so they look before they cross the road and make a bit of an effort in life. Netflix and Chill is around 2/10. At about 5/10, you are noticing signs of stress in your emotions and body, but you can still do the things you need to do. At around 7/10, your level of functioning begins to become impaired - you can no longer concentrate as well as you would like to, and it's getting tricky not to high-tail it out of there or scream at someone. By 9/10, you are on the verge of losing control. And 10/10, well, you've lost it. 

Try getting into the habit of checking in with yourself regularly (or your partner or children) at different times and working out what your number is at any given time. It's a very useful strategy as it can guide what you do next, as well as help predict the times you are likely to be more vulnerable in the future. Keeping note in a diary or on your phone is a great idea too. Have a chat to your psychologist for more guidance - we can help you work out what next. 

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