“The worst aspect of chronic stress is that people get used to it. They forget it’s there. People are immediately aware of acute stress because it is new; they ignore chronic stress because it’s old, familiar, and sometimes almost comfortable. ” ~Miller & Smith, The Stress Solution
So you’re heading into September refreshed and rejuvenated for a new year? Part of the mindful life is all about understanding your perception of stress. Before you enroll in any sort of self-development program or mindfulness course in Autumn, it will help to get a baseline from the Perceived Stress Scale (PSS). In fact, it’s smart to get a baseline. Read on to take a questionnaire and find out how your stress levels compare to average.
A few tips before you start:
Questionnaire time: Under 10 minutes
The Perceived Stress Scale is a tool developed in the 1980’s that has been highly researched and recommended. It is the most widely used psychological instrument for measuring the perception of stress.
Higher perceived stress scores have been linked to failure to quit smoking, failure among diabetics to control blood sugar levels, greater vulnerability to depressive symptoms, colds, and more.
If you have a higher score it is a good indicator of the amount of stressors in your life. You can still bounce back. I promise. Consider Reawaken’s MBSR (Mindfulness-Based-Stress-Reduction) Course linked below that can help reduce your stress score once you have your baseline scores.
When answering the questions, think only about the last 30 days.
Answer the following 10 questions below:
___0=never ___1=almost never
___2=sometimes ___3=fairly often
1. In the last month, how often have you been upset because of something that happened unexpectedly?
2. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were unable to control the important things in your life?
3. In the last month, how often have you felt nervous and "stressed"?
4. In the last month, how often have you felt confident about your ability to handle your personal problems?
5. In the last month, how often have you felt that things were going your way?
6. In the last month, how often have you found that you could not cope with all the things that you had to do?
7. In the last month, how often have you been able to control irritations in your life?
8. In the last month, how often have you felt that you were on top of things?
9. In the last month, how often have you been angered because of things that were outside of your control?
10. In the last month, how often have you felt difficulties were piling up so high that you could not overcome them?
Remember for questions 1,2,3,6,9,&10, scoring is as follows:
Never | Almost Never | Sometimes | Fairly Often | Very Often
0 1 2 3 4
(*Remember to reverse the score you gave yourself on questions 4, 5, 7 & 8)
Now add up your scores for each item to get a total. My total score is ___________.
0-7=very low health concern
8-11 is a low health concern
12-15= average health concerns
16-20=high health concern
21+ =very high health concern
Refer to the following Table for the average scores from research by Harris:
You and your experiences in this life are sacred. Stay in the moment with yourself and affirm your strengths to manage this perceived stress. Below are some follow-up resources to consider to help you improve this perception of stress!
Now let’s fall in love with Fall!
Follow Up Resources:
Canadian: Reawaken Co Mindfulness - MBSR Course
American Psychological Association - Chronic Stress
American Psychological Association - Resilience Guide
More info on the Perceived Stress Scale
Erin Edwards (they/them) is a non-binary, nature-based mindfulness guide for folx in the coaching & wellness professions. After writing their first bestselling book, A Drink Called Mindfulness, they began integrating the wisdom of naturopathic medicine, exercise physiology, queer theory, and nature to create Reawaken Co Mindfulness: a global virtual healing center. Erin helps YOU come to terms with your (im)perfection & bash binary thinking while developing strengths to honour & expand your gifts to the world. Check out their book, online MBSR Course: Mindful Bliss, Inspiring Insights Podcast, and other down-to-Earth resources at https://theerinedwards.com/