Many symptoms of excess stress are easy to self-diagnose. To help determine how much stress you experience on a daily basis, answer the following questions.

How many of the symptoms of excess stress in the list below do you experience frequently?

1. Are you easily startled or irritated?
2. Are you increasingly forgetful?
3. Do you have trouble falling or staying asleep?
4. Do you continually worry about events in your future?
5. Do you feel as if you are constantly under pressure to produce?
6. Do you frequently use tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs to help you relax?
7. Do you often feel as if you have less energy than you need to finish the day?
8. Do you have recurrent stomachaches or headaches?
9. Is it difficult for you to find satisfaction in simple life pleasures?
10. Are you often disappointed in yourself and others?
11. Are you overly concerned with being liked or accepted by others?
12. Have you lost interest in intimacy or sex?
13. Are you concerned that you do not have enough money?

Your Total


Experiencing some of the stress-related symptoms or answering "yes" to a few questions is normal. However, if you experience a large number of stress symptoms or you answered "yes" to a majority of the questions, you are likely experiencing a high level of stress. Take time out to develop effective stress-management techniques. Many coping strategies that can aid you in dealing with your college stressors are described in this chapter. Additionally, your school's counseling center can provide valuable support.


Symptoms of Excess Stress

Physical Symptoms Emotional Symptoms Behavioral Symptoms
Dry mouth Anxiety or edginess Crying
Excessive perspiration Depression Disrupted eating habits
Frequent illnesses Fatigue Disrupted sleeping habits
Gastrointestinal problems Hypervigilance Harsh treatment of others
Grinding of teeth Impulsiveness Problems communicating
Headaches Inability to concentrate Sexual problems
High blood pressure Irritability Social isolation
Pounding heart Trouble remembering things Increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
Stiff neck or aching lower back    

Weekly Stress Log

Now that you are familiar with the signals of stress, complete the weekly stress log below to map patterns in your stress levels and identify sources of stress. Enter a score for each hour of each day according to the ratings listed below the log.


  A.M. P.M.  
  6 7 8 9 10 11 12 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 Average
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
Sunday
Average

Ratings
1 = No anxiety; general feeling of well-being
2 = Mild anxiety; no interference with activity
3 = Moderate anxiety; specific signal(s) of stress present
4 = High anxiety; interference with activity
5 = Very high anxiety and panic reactions; general inability to engage in activity


To identify daily or weekly patterns in your stress level, look at the average of your hourly stress rating at the bottom of each column or your average daily stress rating at the end of each row. For example, if your scores for 6: 00 A.M. are 3, 3, 4, 3, and 4, with blanks for Saturday and Sunday, your 6: 00 A.M. rating will be 17 ÷ 5, or 3.4 (moderate to high anxiety). Finally, look at your average weekly stress score at the bottom right of the table. Your weekly average will give you a sense of your overall level of stress.


Identifying Sources of Stress

External stressors: List several people, places, or events that caused you a significant amount of discomfort this week.



Internal stressors: List any recurring thoughts or worries that produced feelings of discomfort this week.