Sunday, October 30, 2005

One of Life’s Little Stresses

We’ve recently moved from an English village in the countryside to one of London’s outer boroughs. I have mixed feelings about it. On the plus side, our commute to work has gone from an hour and a half each way in heavy motorway traffic to seven minutes or ten if we have to wait at a traffic light. The house is bigger in every respect with higher ceilings, larger rooms and more light. The garden is low maintenance. There isn’t a hundred years worth of paint on the walls and woodwork. On the minus side, this is definitely city living with lots more traffic, and the pace has "ratched" up several notches. Moving to a new house with a partner, especially when you do it yourself, has to be one of the most stressful things which couples go through.

I thought I’d do a little research about stress. I was surprised to discover that moving wasn’t in the top ten. Several sites listed the top ten stress-causing events, but I found one where you can actually take a test to tally your current stress level. Which of these have you experienced in the past 12 months?

1. Death of a spouse (100)
2. Divorce (73)
3. Marital separation (65)
4. Jail term (63)
5. Death of close family member (63)
6. Personal injury or illness (53)
7. Marriage (50)
8. Losing ones job (47)
9. Marital reconciliation (45)
10. Retirement (45)
11. Change in family member's health 44
12. Pregnancy 40
13. Sex difficulties 39
14. Addition to family 39
15. Business readjustment 39
16. Change in financial status 38
17. Death of close friend 37
18. Change to a different line of work 36
19. Change in number of marital arguments 35
20. Mortgage or loan over $10,000 31
21. Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
22. Change in work responsibilities 29
23. Trouble with in-laws 29
24. Outstanding personal achievement 28
25. Spouse begins or stops work 26
26. Starting or finishing school 26
27. Change in living conditions 25
28. Revision of personal habits 24
29. Trouble with boss 23
30. Change in work hours, conditions 20
31. Change in residence 20
32. Change in schools 20
33. Change in recreational habits 19
34. Change in church activities 19
35. Change in social activities 18
36. Mortgage or loan under $10,000 17
37. Change in sleeping habits 16
38. Change in number of family gatherings 15
39. Change in eating habits 15
40. Vacation 13
41. Christmas season 12
42. Minor violations of the law 11

On a scale of 1 -100, change of residence only carried a stress level of 20. Another site listed buying and selling a house with a stress score of 60. Go to ( I’m assuming that the difference in stress is related to the buying and selling factor.

These results were posted on the New Hope website. If your score is 0-149, you have low susceptibility to stress-related illness. If it’s 150-299, there is medium susceptibility. If you score 300 and over, you have a high susceptibility to stress-related illness. Your likelihood of becoming ill depends on your stress coping skills.

The new house is great and we have hours more each day to enjoy as we please. Now we just have to sell the other home... Does having more leisure time cancel out some of the pressure? My stress score was 137 which puts me on the low end of the stress scale. What’s yours?


Anonymous said...

Building a house is a lot more stressfull, and it's because of different tastes and costs of ideas.
Bill C

Michael J. Fitzgerald said...

Great to see your words again and congratulations on moving. I'm sitting among cardboard boxes myself, with my move only being for a year, likely, then it's move again when our friends will want their home back (or will sell it).

I like the stress test... My right shoulder (killing me right now) tells me when I am stressed, even though outwardly, I feel great an am actually looking forward to the move.

Enjoy NOT commuting. I just added a few miles to the distance from school, but given that I teach three days a week and there is public transportation, I can handle it.

Nice column.

Kathleen said...

Dear Marcia,

Definitely enjoy the new home and more time. I really revelled in the extra time gained from not shovelling the steps & street and scraping the car off when I moved from NY to AZ.

As for the stress test.... I'm off the scale. The first time I did it, the score was 471. I went back and crossed out some things that even though they had occured in the last 12 mths., I didn't think they had that much affect on me. That knocked it down to 407. I know I've been stressed, but I don't think I'm that bad. What an eye opening. Knock on wood, I've been pretty healthy, and recovering well from the pacemaker surgery almost 6 weeks ago. I went to Pittsburgh this past weekend, met another teacher from Ring (Marcia Matteo) and we had a great time and went dancing. First dancing since the divorce and the pacemaker. It was great, but not enough. We got there late and they stopped playing early.

What impressed me the most were the vibrant colors of the trees. They were fantastic, especially with the background of the 3 rivers. I took lots of artsy, as well as tourist, pictures.

bye for now.