Living on the Edge: Stressed Out and Nowhere to Go

Is your stress level higher than it should be? Are you struggling with changes in life that you neither anticipated nor caused? If so, keep reading! Most of us carry far more stress than did our parents and grandparents. Life seems more complicated than ever. Nothing is certain, reality is artificially produced, and fantasy is real. No wonder we're confused!

Various life changes are assigned Life Crisis Units (LCUs). Stressors are cumulative, therefore, the more stressful situations you face, the more dangerous your stress becomes. The negative consequences of stress might be the result of one big event or the cumulative result of several smaller events.

The key is to be aware of the dangers associated with unmanaged stress. For instance, the following life events contribute to your stress. The number in parentheses indicates the Life Crisis Units associated with that event.

Death of a spouse (100)

Divorce (73)

Personal illness or injury (53)

Fired at work (47)

Retirement (45)

Change of financial state (38)

A large mortgage or loan (30)

Trouble with in-laws (29)

Trouble with boss (23)

Change in church activities (19)

Christmas (12)

The list is much longer, but you get the point. Here's the deal-people who score over 300 LCUs are 80% more likely to be sick as a result of their stress. People who score 200-299 are 50% more likely to get sick. And people who score 150-199 are 33% more likely to get sick.

So, stress has health-related consequences. What can you do to manage stress? Here are a few suggestions:

1. Eliminate sources of stress that can be eliminated. Don't continue to do something that poses a potential health risk.

2. Seek counsel to help deal with your stress. A friend of mine recently lost his job. During his conversations with his friends he discovered that most of them had lost their jobs at one point. They, therefore, were able to encourage him through a difficult time.

3. Fix what you can; ignore what you can't fix. Worrying about things you can't change is a senseless waste of time and effort. Don't give your energies to situations you can't directly impact.

4. Redirect your energies away from stress and toward positive people and activities. Sitting around thinking about being stressed is not a solution to your stress. Begin a hobby, clean out a closet, go for a walk, or take a trip to the library or local coffee shop. Do something positive to help you put the stressful situations out of your mind.

Life is plenty stressful; it's important that we learn to manage stress so that we can help others deal with their stresses. Think about it!

Dr. Terry Hadaway is a freelance writer and university professor who has numerous books and articles to his credit. You can learn more about his work at

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