Is Stress Impacting Your Life? Take The Stress Quiz to Find Out

At its simplest, stress is what happens in our bodies and in our minds when there is some sort of challenge or demand. It’s a normal reaction when we are under pressure, such as rushing to meet a deadline or running to catch a bus.

Once the deadline is met or you are sitting on the bus, hopefully the stress reaction settles. The same reaction happens when we perform (act, play, sing) or attend the opening of our fist art exhibition or book launch (let’s be positive!).

It’s a natural and necessary function of the body to deal with a situation that is more demanding than usual.

What happens in our body when we are stressed?

When we are stressed our body works harder in all sorts of ways. There is an increase in heart rate and blood pressure and our muscles tense.

Our breathing becomes faster and there is an increase in stress hormones and chemicals within our blood stream. It’s often called the fight or flight response because it’s a life-saving, in-built mechanism that we have had since early times to deal with threat.

The stress reaction prepares us to run away or fight for survival. Some stress is also necessary to motivate us to do things that are important to us, such as our creative work.

Stress stimulates adrenaline, nor-adrenaline and glucose to flow into our blood, which in turn gives us the buzz or energy to be creative. If there were no stress at all we would be so laid back that nothing would get done.

So a manageable amount of stress is fine. The key, though, is for the stress reaction not to be too high and for it to settle once the situation is over.

Why do we need to identify stress?

As much as stress is natural, being aware of its existence is of paramount importance. Why? We need to manage our stress, not just for our health, but because it can erode every part of our life, including our creative expression.

We can’t expect ourselves to function creatively under enormous sustained pressure. And that’s what stress is: pressure. Too much pressure stops the flow of our creativity energy.

How do you know you are stressing too much?

Are you aware of feeling stressed?  I hope not, but if you do there are many ways you can help yourself to lower your current level of stress. First try the following quiz.

Stress quiz

Read through the following eight statements and answer with a ‘Yes’, ‘No’ or ‘Sometimes’.

  1. Do you find that your mind is constantly busy thinking about all the things that must be done?
  2. Do you find that you are prone to worrying and feeling anxious?
  3. Are you drinking more alcohol to help you relax; eating for comfort or using some other form of ‘relaxant’, such as cigarettes, marijuana or another drug?
  4. Do you find that you are feeling less sociable than usual, not wanting to be bothered with family and friends?
  5. Do you have difficulty falling asleep or wake up in the night and fid your mind is busy with worries and things to do? Or conversely are you sleeping more than usual?
  6. Do you find that you are more irritable than usual, perhaps snappy with people around you?
  7. Do you experience muscle tension, especially in your neck, back and jaw? Do you experience tension headaches?
  8. Do you suffer from symptoms of Irritable Bowel Syndrome (IBS), such as constipation and/or diarrhea that become exacerbated when you feel stressed?

Saying ‘Yes’ or ‘Sometimes’ to any of these statements is a warning sign that stress might be impacting on your life.

The more times you answered positively, the higher the degree of stress is likely to be in your life and the more likely it is to be impacting on your creative expression. The above symptoms might also indicate some sort of medical condition, so it’s always advisable to get checked out by a doctor.

If you said ‘No’ to all of the above, it sounds like you have a well-balanced life and that you are managing the ups and downs that come your way. You are likely to be enjoying your creative interests.

What next after identifying the stress?

The next measure you need to take up is managing your stress. We all need to build into our lives some general stress management strategies.

There is nothing particularly complex about them; they are about making sure you have a healthy balance in your life and include our natural needs for living well:

  • Healthy food
  • Adequate sleep
  • Relaxation
  • Exercise
  • Family time
  • Friendship and
  • Time for whatever else that’s important to you and fits with your values.

Creative-Seed-3D250Lilian Wissink has over twenty years’ experience as a counselling psychologist. She is the author of “The Creative Seed - How to Enrich Your Life Through Creativity"