Okay, show of hands — who knew that April is National Stress Awareness Month? I’ll be the first to tell you that I sure didn’t know, but once I found out, I thought this would be a great opportunity for me to bring you another gem I learned from a therapy session I had in November 2021 and January 2022.
So as y’all know from my first blog this year, I was in a very stressful environment last year. My dad was having major surgery, I was working more than I was relaxing, and my mental health was at an all-time low. Around the middle of November, my therapist started to notice a decline in my overall happiness and morale, so she showed me something called the Perceived Stress Scale. This scale was a game-changer for me in a couple of ways, but let me explain what it is first.
The Perceived Stress Scale is an accurate way to assess and measure the level of stress that you’re under. Now, around November last year, I knew that I was stressed, but I thought that it was something I could tough out and endure for the long haul. However, when my therapist asked me the questions on the scale, calculated my score, and told me that I was in the highest category of stress, I knew I had to make a change. I’m very thankful for this test because it showed me numerically just how stressed I was. Putting a number to my stress helped me understand my stress better, and I realized that I wasn’t overreacting or being dramatic — I was extremely stressed.
Fast forward to January 2022 — I left my stressful job, my dad’s recovery was progressing, I started blogging again, and I was offered a new position with better pay and less stress. When I met with my therapist again and spilled all of the good news to her, she brought out the Perceived Stress Scale and suggested I take it again now that it’s been two months since I’d taken it previously. Well, I’m proud to say that the second time I took the test, I ranked in the low-stress category! I was SO excited to see the major difference between where I was in January and where I started last November. My stress at that point was attainable, manageable, and reasonable because I made the necessary steps to get myself out of that stressful environment and get on the road to my new path. So, how do you take the test and manage your stress? Let me tell ya!
Steps to Managing Stress
- Reflect on your life — the good and the bad. What are you happy with? What is currently bothering you or weighing heavily on your mind?
- Use the Perceived Stress Scale to calculate your stress.
- Write down your results, and wait 2-6 months.
- Repeat step 1.
- Repeat step 2.
- Evaluate the difference between the first time you took the test and the second time you took the test — what’s different in your life? If your stress went down, what changes did you make? If your stress went up, what happened to cause this increase and what can you do to destress?
I hope that this helps you in some way manage your stress levels because it helped me a lot to put a number to my stress. It was eye-opening for me, and I knew I needed to make some changes. If you ever find that you’re super stressed, and only you know what being stressed looks like for you, find time to think about why you’re stressed and how you can get out of this situation. Then, give yourself more time to come up with a game plan and stick with it. We only get one chance at life — no need to spend some of it stressed if you don’t have to be, especially over a job. Why? God forbid, if you die, they’ll already be putting motions in play to find your replacement.