The Stress of Change: Check Your Vital Signs!
Change isn’t something we humans handle well. When we’re forced to deal with change such as the upheaval cancer can bring, most of us will recognize some indications of stress. In fact, even positive changes such as getting married, taking a vacation, or completing school can stress us out.
When we’re under stress we may eat less (or more) than usual, particularly of certain foods. We may cry more easily. We may be more than a little irritable with coworkers, family, or friends. We may not be able to sleep or we may want only to sleep. We may feel anxious or have panic attacks. We may seem to be “preoccupied” or become forgetful—the list of stress symptoms could go on and on. And the stress behind those symptoms can do a number on our emotional, physical and spiritual health.
So score yourself on the Life Change Scale and see what your current level of change-related stress is.
No wonder you’re feeling stressed! Maybe it’s time to renew your efforts to adjust to the changes happening in your life.
If you need more reasons to give yourself a break, or cut yourself some slack, note that the researchers who did this study identified a connection between unrelieved stress and physical illness. Individuals who scored 300 or more Life Change Units in a twelve-month period had a 40-50% chance of developing a major illness within two years. The more change we must deal with, the more stress we accumulate. It doesn’t matter who you are or how much you may know about human behavior. The formula applies to us all.
Christian Psychologist Gary Oliver, for example, was a devoted husband and loving father. He had a busy practice, taught at a prestigious seminary and had authored several successful counseling books. His life would be deemed a success by anyone’s standards. But after his second battle with cancer, the winds of change and the stresses that accompanied those changes led him to make some changes of his own. One of those adjustments was to redefine his view of success. Success was no longer a long list of credits or accomplishments. It became “just putting one foot in front of the other.”
So give yourself a break. If you’re dealing with cancer, whether as a patient or a caregiver, you’re dealing with a full load of change. Perhaps it’s time for some stress management; time to call in reinforcements, a helpful neighbor, or a housekeeper; time to steal away for a few days or even a few hours; time to call a friend, a pastor, or your doctor. Whatever you do to increase your ability to cope with the stress of change, do it! It will be good for you.
Life Change Scale – Which events have happened to you during the past 12 months?
|Happened to you?
|Death of Spouse
|Death of close family member
|Personal injury or illness
|Fired from job
|Change in health of family member
|Gain of new family member
|Change in financial state
|Death of close friend
|Change to different line of work
|Change in number of arguments with spouse
|Mortgage of loan over $10,000
|Foreclosure of mortgage or loan
|Change in responsibilities at work
|Son or daughter leaving home
|Trouble with in-laws
|Outstanding personal achievement
|Wife begins or stops work
|Begin or end school
|Change in living conditions
|Revision of personal habits
|Trouble with boss
|Change in work hours or conditions
|Change in residence
|Change in schools
|Change in recreation
|Change in church activities
|Change in social activities
|Mortgage or loan less than $10,000
|Change in sleeping habits
|Change in number of family get togethers
|Change in eating habits
|Minor violations of the law