Stress and life events

At different times in life our stress levels go up or come down. This natural ebb and flow is usually manageable. Sometimes life is OK, and sometimes things don’t go so well.

When times are hard, one of the biggest contributing factors are stressful life events. In fact, in the 1970s a scale was developed to measure the impact of different experiences on a person’s stress levels, and physical health.

Below is a selection of examples from the Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale which lists events which are likely to cause stress in a person’s life.

  • Bereavement
  • Divorce or separation
  • Marital or relationship problems
  • Health problems, injury, illness
  • Financial problems, debt
  • Problems or changes at work
  • Retirement
  • Pregnancy, having a new baby
  • Holidays
Looking down that list, most people are likely to consider each one of these to be stressful. It is important to remember that some experiences are, by their very nature, likely to cause stress. That’s likely to be the case for anyone, whether or not they have a mental health problem. In such circumstances, a person’s reaction and them finding it difficult to cope, may be entirely understandable and ‘normal’. If you are going through a difficult time, like one of those listed above, then take a moment to consider whether you are actually coping with things as well as the next person might. It might even make you feel better.
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