Why are you feeling the way you’re feeling?

When they first come to me, many clients don’t understand why they’re feeling they way they are. Most of the people I see are strong, competent, capable folks who are used to taking hit after hit, and marching on no matter what.

Once people have had a chance to understand their stress by taking a look at the number of stressors they’ve experienced, and their impact, they often have a sense of relief: “No wonder I’m feeling this way.” “No wonder I’m having a hard time.”

The Social Readjustment Rating Scale (SRRS, commonly called the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale) was created to measure stress load we carry.

Take a peek at the scale below to rate your stress.

I hope seeing your score helps you be kinder to yourself, and to fully acknowledge the load you’ve been carrying.

Maybe you can even take a moment to place a gentle hand on your heart and say to yourself, “No wonder I’m having a hard time. Going through all this has been hard.”

Make sure to come back here to see what you can do about your score.

 

 

Click here to download it.

 

 

 

A person’s capacity to roll with life’s punches is also affected by their experience growing up. Maybe you’re experiencing only one stressor right now, but it has knocked you down. That may be because you still need help to recover from the accumulated stressors of childhood.

The Adverse Childhood Experiences Study (ACES) uncovered a relationship between a difficult childhood and the chronic diseases people develop as adults, as well as social and emotional problems. (For more information about the ACES study, you can read this excellent article.)

List with three categories: abuse, neglect, and household dysfunction. Under abuse: physical, emotional, sexual. Under neglect: physical, emotional. Under household dysfunction: mental illness, incarcerated relative, mother treated violently, substance abuse, divorce.

Three types of adversity that make for a tough childhood.

To find your ACES score, you can complete this questionnaire.

Make sure to come back here to see what you can do about your score.

The good news

This might sound depressing, but the good news is you’re not doomed and you’re not alone. Adverse childhood experiences are common. About 2/3 of the population has experienced one adverse experience in childhood. But having an adverse experience doesn’t doom you to poor mental and emotional health. The main message to take from your ACES score is that how you’re feeling is not your fault. Adverse experiences have an adverse impact, no matter who you are. However, adversity can also help build resilience. As it is said, whatever doesn’t kill you can make you stronger.

Of course, becoming stronger doesn’t happen by accident, and it’s not a simple matter. Having help–professional or otherwise–is what often makes the difference. The ACES questionnaire doesn’t take into account positive childhood experiences like having a grandparent who loves you, a teacher who understands and believes in you, or a trusted friend you can confide in.

So what can you do if you score high on these scales? If your score on the SRRS reveals a moderate or high level of risk, of course you want to do as much as you can to prevent future crises. If you score high on either scale, you might also want to investigate what kinds of help would work for you, and what you can do to mitigate the effects of stress on your organism.

But sometimes you can’t avoid stressors, even when you try to. For example, if you’re in business for yourself, even when you’re off, you might not truly be off because at any moment, almost anything can happen. And sometimes, life just happens.

What you can do

If you want some tips you can apply right away, click here to read more about the three principles of stress transformation and how to apply them.

There are benefits to working through the thoughts and emotions related to your stressful life experiences, either alone or with a professional like me. You can experience greater resilience so you bounce back more quickly after taking a hit. You can be gentler with yourself when you’re having a hard time, which helps make the hard time a bit easier to bear. Gaining understanding of your situation can also help you take action to change what you can.

Click here to learn more about ways you can work with me to reduce your stress.

You can click here to schedule a free, 30-minute consultation to explore your concerns and see if we’re a good fit.