# Chapter 4. Is There Too Much Stress in Your Life?

## Intro

Is There Too Much Stress in Your Life?
true
false

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Before we are stressed by a situation we must judge it to be challenging or even beyond our ability to cope. The questionnaire that follows is called the perceived stress scale. It measures the degree to which you appraise situations in your life as stressful. There are no right or wrong answers.

Perceived stress scale (PSS)

The questions in this scale ask you about your feelings and thoughts during the last month. In each case, you will be asked to indicate how often you felt or thought a certain way (0 = Never, 1 = Almost Never, 2 = Sometimes, 3 = Fairly Often, and 4 = Very often).

### Question 4.1

{true} setModel("q1", qqMC1 )
{true} setModel("q2", qqMC2 )
{true} setModel("q3", qqMC3 )
{true} setModel("q4", qqMC4)
{true} setModel("q5", qqMC5)
{true} setModel("q6", qqMC6)
{true} setModel("q7", qqMC7)
{true} setModel("q8", qqMC8)
{true} setModel("q9", qqMC9)
{true} setModel("q10", qqMC10)
{true} setModel("total", qqMC1 + qqMC2 + qqMC3 + (4 - qqMC4) + (4 - qqMC5) + qqMC6 + (4 - qqMC7) + (4 - qqMC8) + qqMC9 + qqMC10)

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{model.total}

Your Score, {model.total}, was calculated by reversing responses to the four positively stated items (items 4, 5, 7, and 8) and then summing across all scale items. The higher the score the higher the degree to which stress is perceived.

The Perceived Stress Scale is not a diagnostic instrument, so there are no cut-offs. You can, however, compare your score to the average scores reported below. This data reflects responses to the 2009 eNation survey which gathered information from approximately 2000 adults, 18 or older, living in the United States.

2009 Perceived Stress Scale mean scores by category of respondent.

 Category Number of respondents Mean Score Standard Deviation Sex Male 968 15.52 7.44 Female 1032 16.14 7.56 Age Less than 25 223 16.78 6.86 25-34 433 17.46 7.31 45-54 285 12.6 6.1 35-44 331 16.38 7.04 45-54 419 16.94 7.83 55-64 372 14.5 7.2 65 and older 222 11.09 6.77 Race White 1704 15.70 7.51 Black 99 15.68 7.51 Hispanic 81 17 7.45 Other 84 17.44 7.67 Education Less than high school 62 19.11 7.92 High School 404 16.59 7.54 Some college 784 16.00 7.54 Bachelor's Degree 513 15.17 7.22 Advanced Degree 231 14.65 7.14 Employement Full-time 1037 16.23 7.31 Part-time 167 15.32 7.28 Unemployed 187 16.62 6.97 Retired 282 12.34 7.63 Homemaker 156 15.79 7.33 Other 159 18.99 7.57 Income (2009 \$US) \$25,000 or less 313 17.77 7.6 \$25,000-\$35,000 367 16.69 7.72 \$35,001-\$50,000 191 16.37 8.27 \$50,001-\$75,000 418 15.26 7.54 \$75,001 or more 711 14.74 6.88

If your score is higher than average, you might consider learning new stress reduction techniques. The following activities have been shown to reduce stress:

• Deep breathing and visualization
• Progressive muscle relaxation
• Mindful-based stress reduction
• Exercise — try to get at least 150 minutes of moderate to vigorous activity a week (moderate activity is briskly walking)
• Yoga
• Socializing with supportive friends
• Laughing while reading or watching something; engage in a humorous conversation
• Engaging in a humorous conversation
• Dancing or listen to music
• Engaging in a hobby that you enjoy

## Sources

Cohen, S., and Janicki-Deverts, D. (2012) Who’s Stressed? Distributions of Psychological Stress in the United States in Probability Samples from 1983, 2006, and 2009. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 42 (6), 1320-1334.

Cohen, S., Kamarck, T., and Mermelstein, R. (1983). A global measure of perceived stress. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 24(4), 385–396.

Cohen, S. and Williamson, G. (1988). Perceived stress in a probability sample of the United States. S. Spacapan & S. Oskamp (Eds.). The social psychology of health. Newbury Park, CA: SAGE.