Stress is with us all the time, and we can look at its occurrence and impact from several different dimensions. There's stress we impose on ourself, and there's stress imposed on us by others. Some individuals don't seem to get "stressed out" about anything; some seem to feel overstressed very easily. Some individuals may recognize they have a heavy stress load, but seem to manage the stress in a relatively effective manner. 

Just as one person's idea of stress doesn't necessarily mirror another's, what might be relaxing to one person may be stressful to another. For example, a corporate executive who likes to keep busy all the time may find it extremely frustrating, unproductive and stressful to spend a day away from the office "just realaxing."

A certain amount of stress is actually a positive experience because it motivates us to act. Too much stress, however, can seriously affect one's overall well-being. The challenge is to make the stress in our life work for, not against, us.

Use the following checklist to assess whether or not your levels of stress are "too much." If you are experiencing too much chronic, negative stress, look for additional stress management tips on this website, or talk with your mental health professional. If you need referrals to a mental health professional in your area, contact your local Mental Health America affiliate. Use this link to find affiliates of the Mental Health America network

  1. Do you have difficulty sleeping at night?
  2. Do you have persistent headaches, backaches or stomachaches?
  3. Do you harbor feelings of resentment or anger?
  4. Do you feel overwhelmed by too much to do and the inability to organize time effectively?
  5. Are you unable to concentrate?
  6. Are you impulsive?
  7. Do you have an overpowering desire to cry or run and hide?
  8. Do you continually feel sad and unhappy?
  9. Are you afraid of illness or disease?
  10. Do you find it difficult to show your feelings?
  11. Do you feel irritable and cross without cause?
  12. Do you experience a consistent lack of energy?
  13. Do you worry about the future and feel afraid of tomorrow?
  14. Do you feel isolated and alone?
  15. Do you find yourself spending less time with friends and more time alone?
  16. Are you unable to relax and laugh?
  17. Do you find you are eating (smoking) more than usual?
  18. Are you uncomfortable in open (closed) spaces?
  19. Do you feel pressured in many areas of your life and unable to complete tasks successfully?
  20. Do you find yourself crying all the time or unable to cry at all?
  21. Do you have trouble making up your mind?
  22. Have you become more accident-prone? 

If you answered YES to two or more of these questions, or hesitated in answering NO, you may want to seek professional help to reduce your stress or anxiety levels.