Stress by Numbers

By Katie Tallent

Have you ever had a pain in the neck?  We all have those moments in life, the change of a job, loss of a loved one or birth, moving.  Even when we experience positive changes they can still cause mental and emotional stress.  The stress of a particular task or person or event can manifest in our bodies leaving us with discomfort and downright pain.

Making time for a massage is my number one choice to loose the weight that piles upon my metaphorical shoulders.  It should be for you as well!  Massage therapy is growing by leaps and bounds reaching an all time high $11 billion industry.  As we begin to understand the benefits to their health and well-being, people are turning more and more to intentional touch for relief and less to medication. In fact, 88% of individuals say they view massage as beneficial to overall health and wellness and is effective in reducing pain.

Finding Out Your Stress:

 1.  Grab and Pen and Paper

2.  Use the Table below from the Holmes and Rahe stress scale

3.  Write Down the number value for each event

4.  Add all the numbers together with a calculator or dust off those math skills

Here’s a list of some of life’s top stressors listed in the Holmes and Rahe stress scale:

The Holmes and Rahe method gives a simple mathematical way of determining your risk of illness based on the stresses your body may be harboring.

 5.  Compare your Total score to list below and see if you are in a higher danger of stress induced illness.

 Score of 300+: At risk of illness.

Score of 150-299: Risk of illness is moderate (reduced by 30% from the above risk).

Score <150: Only have a slight risk of illness.

Symptoms that life events might be inducing illness

  1. reasoning and memory
  2. narrowing of blood vessels causing blood pressure to soar
  3. bruxism (also known as grinding teeth) and TMJ
  4. depression as cortisol suppresses neurotransmission in the brain
  5. insomnia
  6. weakened immune system and infections
  7. increased risk of diseases such as liver disease, lymphomas and certain cancers

So while we can all claim numerous stressors listed in the H and R scale, we ALSO have the ability to reduce the long term effects on our own bodies.  We CAN take back control over our bodies by lowering blood pressure, boosting our immune system, and fighting insomnia.  And as therapists it is deeply fulfilling to extend our skill and knowledge to help our fellow man and woman experience a life exempt from pain and illness.

Here are some other stress busting techniques you may employ between sessions:

  1. “I like to move it, move it!” Along with helping your bodily systems work together, exercise releases endorphins which are the body’s natural pain killer and mood booster.
  2. Laugh it off!  Laughter is the best medicine to blow off fatigue.
  3. Hugs-n-kisses! Hugging is known for its blood pressure lowering effects while kissing releases chemicals that ease hormones associated with stress such as cortisol.  Forming positive relationships has wondrous effects on reducing anxiety.
  4. Get your hands dirty!  Dive into some paint or clay.  Art therapy can take you into a meditative state while you are engaged in creating a masterpiece.


Share with us what your Holmes and Rahe number is & what your stress busting methods are going to be!


Holmes and Rahe Scale

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32 thoughts on “Stress by Numbers”

  1. My score was 288 pretty high I may say. I am going to start getting raindrops to get of some the emotional stress and I am going to look in to some kind meditation.

  2. We live in such a fast paced society that hight stress has become a normal part of many people’s everyday life.they often simply do not take the time to care for their spiritual,physical and emotional needs making them more vulnerable to stress. Art is really a wonderful way to care for ones self. Expression and creativity can release anxiety,and tension,reduce fear and worry and revitalize the human psyche. I truly believe your most important stress filter is your atitude. I’ve known a lot of people with extremely diffucult lives who didn’t have half the stress of someone with half their problems,simply because they had a wonderful attitude towards life.being grateful and considering others who are less fortunate can really help you not sweat the small stuff. We can choose not to let certain things cause stress in our life,we can control our reactions much more then we realize becuase we don’t practice it, and you will keep getting better whatever you practice in life. So practice love,practice kindness,practice happiness,patience,and peace. practice won’t have time to practice stress:).

    I just loved reading this. Very informative,thank you for sharing 🙂

  3. My Holmes and Rahe score came out at 130 which places me in the slight risk for illness category based on stressors. By the way, GREAT blog Summer! I am truly fortunate to have a husband that did 90 percent of the Christman shopping this year, and we both wrapped it up last Friday-talk about cutting down on Christmas stress! Rick’s ( my husband) mother passed away last month, so that is stress enough for this holiday season on the family. I plan to give some massage this holiday season and in return I receive therpy, feedback, and experience back. I plan to soak in the tub, get plenty of fresh air and sunshine and exercise, and savor all my colleague’s massages in class as I know I won’t always have you all around!

  4. I didn’t really realize how big stress has a persons physical state. This information is very helpful and needed! Thanks!!

  5. Stress is awful, thankfully I do not have a lot of stress my relationship with Jesus helps me so much. If I get out of balance I think on him and life gets better. I like the part about laughing and hugging loving and laughing with family reduces stress. I am so glad I am becoming a massage therapist.

  6. My score was 128! I am not a hugger, so art therapy might be the best destresser for me, i just have to find time for it!

  7. This was a interesting read and my stress levels are always high but the best way for me to low off my stress is to go bowling or listen to music while playing games.

  8. My score was 190… I try to take time to reflect on things and prepare for future stressors. Meditation helps a lot with my stress.

  9. Stress is a peculiar thing, It seems to build up over time if not dealt with, and the brain does not ease constant stress like it does with constant pain.

    My best method for reducing stress is following along with a guided meditation audio track.

    Other methods that are also very helpful are exercise, stretching, and breathing exercises.

    If hunger or exhaution are issues than healthy eating and a nap can help quite a bit as well.

  10. My score was 285. I have been under an immense amount of stress for the past 6 months or so. It has been very wearing on me and I have been battling dips in my immune response. I have been working on trying to find some way to relieve some of this stress. Apparently I need to find some things quick!

  11. Wow, I do all those stress relievers. I work on art projects, I get active, I laugh a lot, and I receive hugs. Also, helping others release themselves from their stress, relieves stress from me.

  12. I scored 190…Stress can really take toll on one person. Some people tend to ignore all the stress and bottle it up on the inside, but they can only keep in it in for so long without it coming to the surface. I enjoyed reading this blog, just because my life has stressful for the last week and now I know that I really do need to get unstressed.

  13. my score was low, so i’m a slight risk for illness. This chart is helpful, it helps keep track of your stress level.

  14. my score is a 281 & i had no idea i was so stressed out… that makes me feel like my mind and body dont really work together, one feels it but the other one dont…. to fix my problem I will start taking some nature walks, cause i do love nature and its a great way to clear your mind, getting a GOOD massage as often as possible, and eliminating some of the things or people that maybe causing me unnecessary stress

  15. 186 was my score. I relieve stress by surrounding myself with friends and family for affection and laughter. I also relieve stress with exercise such as yoga and dance. some believe in miracles and some believe in fate but I believe that happiness is something we create. If you want to be happy….BE!

  16. wow! this is perfect timing and extremely ironic because in the exact month of December 2012, I was asked to take this same test during a yoga retreat, and I scored WELL under 150 and I couldn’t fathom how others managed to score higher. Now here it is a year later, almost down to the exact day, and I just scored 456. I was aware of the fact that I have been feeling that this has been the most stressful period of my life, but I didn’t realize the extent of it until now. My plan is to first give myself a pat on the back for still choosing to be happy, positive, grateful, and determined, despite my situation! Then, I will just keep on keepin’ on into the new year and my stresses will continue to dissipate as the months go by!!

  17. My score was pretty high but I am trying these things and trying to exercise. It seems to be helping a little. Also, I make lists and try to put it all down so I can forget them until tomorrow and get some sleep. I just don’t have the time to be stressed out:)

  18. 268, it doesnt seem that bad. but for some strange reason im pretty stressed the heck out most the time. does give me a good idea to check in on things tho

  19. My score is 272 it’s high I have a lot of stress in my life . I’m always up for new ideas to help me relieve stress. I need to start surrounding myself with family and friends. I need to try and exercise more and help relieve some stress instead of just eating when I’m stressed out

  20. I could have written that article. That is my life. My stress number was 204, but there are several life events that were not on the list. I really do believe in the exercise. I can get on a treadmill or elliptical and go forever when I have stress! Laughter is the best medicine!! That’s why Dominic’s laugh is so contagious! Anyone that knows me at all knows that I am a big hugger! It blesses me so much to give all my hugs away! God bless and I hope everyone has a less stressed Christmas this year!5

  21. 252 I am a very relax person can manage many different situations. I do not let things to me as easy as others. My score may be high but I have learned to manage.

  22. My score was 315 which means as it says iam at a high risk of a mental illness but truth be told ive probably always had a high stress level and thats just how iam stressed. I dont like change because it causes me alot of issues which brings my stress at a whole new level. I have tried alot of things to get rid of my stress. I havent found one that works yet.

  23. Luckily my score is very low. However it seems to me that Holmes and Rahe forgot one major stress factor which affects most people: Grinding away at a job which they don’t like for most of their lives. The stress table includes mostly changes, however often the perceived inability to change things in life can be very stressful.
    My preferred way to lower stress is definitely getting massage. Fortunately I live in Thailand and I can get an hour of good massage for about $8.

  24. My score was a 187. I try to pratice yoga at least 3-4 times a week. So hopefully, my stress levels should lower down. Besides that, this was a great exersice and I’m going to show this to a few friends down the road.