Many years ago I attended a class at work on how to deal with stress in the workplace. The instructor provided a list of the top 10 stress events that could occur in a person’s life. This list is known as the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale which was first published in 1967. In a recent article on HealthCentral, in 2001 Anne Spurgeon et al. looked at how the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale applied 34 years later. Looking at the results of the two lists, I found that 7 of the 10 were the same. Several others on the new list appeared to be subgroups of the original top ten.
Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale 1967
Death of a spouse / Divorce / Marriage Separation / Jail Term / Death of a close relative / Injury or illness / Marriage / Fired from a job / Marriage Reconciliation / Retirement.
Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale – Anne Spurgeon et al. 2001
Death of a Spouse / Jail Sentence / Death of immediate family member / Immediate family member commits suicide / Getting into debt beyond means of repayment / Period of Homelessness / Immediate family member seriously ill / Unemployment of head of household / Divorce / Break Up of Family
From my perspective the change in the order of some events is most likely due to the change in the values of our culture. Some of the events listed are caused by situations that we cannot control. But what I found the most interesting is that 7 out of 10 events from both lists deal with interpersonal relationships. From this I conclude that most of the stress we deal with on a daily basis comes from the people we work with or interact, from our families and from our friends. Or you could just say people in general.
A common thread that runs through both lists is change. By nature we like things to remain the same or we want events to go according to our plans. When events deviate from the original path or don’t go according to “our” plan, we find stress waiting to eat us up.
So what are we to do? Since number one on the list did not change, I would recommend not getting married (Sarcasm Alert). But in all seriousness, a quick search of the web will provide a plethora of books and seminars on how to handle stress. The past five years I have been riding the roller coaster from hell when it comes to stress. What I have learned is that there are a lot of things that we can’t control, or change, and it is best to let those go. I have also learned it is best to identify a stressful event and take action before it overtakes you. Last of all is to have a solid foundation in your life that you can depend on: Faith, Family, Friends.