Created by two American psychologists, take a look at this scale of 43 life events and you will learn how much obvious stress you have in your life.

Each event has a corresponding score associated with it, according to the degree of stress that comes as the result of that activity.

Below are the top 10 most stressful life events according to the scale:

  1. death of a partner
  2. divorce
  3. separation from partner
  4. imprisonment
  5. death of a close family member
  6. personal illness or injury
  7. marriage
  8. dismissal from work
  9. change of job
  10. retirement

(Holmes and Rahe (1967) ‘The social readjustment rating scale’ Psychosomatic Medicine, 11: 213-18.)


When you suffer from stress, you experience a variety of symptoms. These symptoms each fall into four categories:

  • behavioral (the things you do)
  • physical (your body’s response)
  • emotional (what you feel)
  • psychological (your personal way of thinking.)

Take a look below at the various lists of stresses and symptoms and then compare those with how you are feeling at this moment.  Next, look for your score at the end of this self-test and you will discover your personal stress rating.


physical symptoms emotional symptoms
  • tightness in chest
  • chest pain and/or palpitations
  • indigestion
  • breathlessness
  • nausea
  • muscle twitches
  • aches and pains
  • headaches
  • skin conditions
  • recurrence of previous illnesses/allergies
  • constipation/diarrhea
  • weight loss or weight gain
  • change in menstrual cycle for women
  • sleep problems/tiredness
  • mood swings
  • feeling anxious
  • feeling tense
  • feelings of anger
  • feeling guilty
  • feelings of shame
  • having no enthusiasm
  • becoming more cynical
  • feeling out of control
  • feeling helpless
  • decrease in confidence/self-esteem
  • poor concentration
behavioral symptoms psychological symptoms and negative thoughts
  • drop in work performance
  • more inclined to become accident-prone
  • drinking and smoking more
  • overeating/loss of appetite
  • change in sleeping patterns
  • poor time management
  • too busy to relax
  • withdrawing from family and friends
  • loss of interest in sex
  • poor judgment
  • inability to express feelings
  • over-reacting
  • ‘I am a failure’
  • ‘I should be able to cope’
  • ‘why is everyone getting at me?’
  • ‘no one understands’
  • ‘I don’t know what to do’
  • ‘I can’t cope’
  • ‘what’s the point?’
  • ‘I don’t seem to be able to get on top of things’
  • ‘I keep forgetting where I put things’
  • loss of judgment

Stress Self Test

Add up your score to check how stressed you are.

0 – 4 symptoms: You are unlikely to be stressed.

5 – 8 symptoms: You are experiencing a mild form of stress and are not coping as well as you can. You need to make some changes.

9 – 12 symptoms: You are experiencing a moderate degree of stress. You need to make major changes to your life.

13 or more symptoms: You need to take urgent action to reduce your stress levels. The higher your score the more urgent is the need for action.

Stress is impossible to eliminate totally from life. However, if we recognize what stresses us, together with how our symptoms show themselves, we can take action to minimize or reduce any negative effects.