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The Ardell Wellness Stress Test Self-Assessment
Forty-three years have passed since Rodale Press published the first
a popular work on the topic of wellness. The title “High Level Wellness: An Alternative to Doctors, Drugs, and Disease” paid tribute to Halbert L. Dunn, the physician who coined the term “high level wellness” and used it to promote personal responsibility for health and happiness, including daily attention to adequate exercise, scientific nutrition, lush life and sensitivity to the environment. Back in the 1950s and early 60s, Dr. Dunn promoted a shift in emphasis away from the continued reliance on medical care for chronic illnesses and diseases caused largely by poor lifestyle choices and hazardous environments.
Despite the growth of the wellness movement, the emphasis is still on treatment and healing rather than prevention and wellness. This fact is one of the many main reasons why the US health care system now costs $3.2 trillion a year. In my opinion, the focus on chronic disease and the accompanying neglect of life enrichment is the single biggest reason for this staggering level of medical spending, unmatched anywhere else in the world.
A simple version of my self-assessment stress test appeared in the aforementioned 1977 book. I’ve expanded on that over the years. The test has always been designed to give a broad insight into the range of factors that can lead to emotional and mental strains of an unpleasant nature, which is basically the meaning of stress, although the term has also been interpreted to occasionally include such strains by positive factors, such as excessive irritability caused by sudden, extreme luck. (Personally, I always welcomed such stress and still do.)
Basically, however, too many positive or negative stressors that are not well managed will cause health and other problems ranging from misery to ruin. My Stress Resilience Test, still a self-assessment tool after many expansions over the years, remains a self-assessment instrument intended for personal insights. It is not a test in any technical sense. Unless validated under controlled conditions over time with scientific rigor, it will only serve the purpose of self-awareness and insight into areas that deserve attention. Which, by the way, was always the intention.
Many books have been written about the phenomenon of stress. It is a popular term in our culture and is receiving a lot of attention in various workplace health promotion programs. There are large individual differences among people in how people react to and manage stressors at different times under different circumstances. What stresses you out could, paradoxically, excite me, and vice versa. People thrive and suffer from stress in their lives in a variety of ways. Therefore, any self-assessment of stress that raises awareness should lead to less suffering and more progress. That seems like a very good thing.
If effective stress management improves health as experts in this specialty field claim, the benefits of mastery are substantial. A partial list of benefits includes less brain shrinkage (!), improved emotional health, better management of upsetting events, help with concentration, sharper focus, less presenteeism, expanded potential, lower risk of dementia, and improved sleep cycles.
In short, the following stress test is for awareness, self-
an assessment or survey of life satisfaction to date. This should help you start or contribute to a healthy mindset and lifestyle.
We can all improve our ability to manage stress. This test should be useful for exploring problems and dilemmas that lead to positive solutions to many challenging situations.
The Ardell Wellness Stress Test, updated and expanded many times since the small chapter in “High Level Wellness,” now includes the physical, mental, emotional, spiritual (ie meaning and purpose), and social aspects of well-being. This is one reason many users report finding the test useful—it offers a balanced assessment of different sources of stress based on a six-point scale, plus a neutral choice that does not indicate positive or negative emotions associated with any item. Simply rate your satisfaction in positive or negative degrees for each item.
Enter “+3” if your current life satisfaction related to the specified category is “exuberant to ecstatic” — as good or positive as could reasonably be expected or hoped for.
Enter “+2” if your satisfaction level is in the “very happy to fairly satisfied” category.
Enter “+1” if your satisfaction is “Fine to Slightly Satisfactory”.
Enter “0” if your most accurate feeling is “not sure” or “no problem”.
Enter “-1” if the most correct answer seems to be from “slightly disappointed” to “not very correct”.
Enter “-2” if the highest/best response is “very disappointed” to “quite unhappy about this.”
Enter “-3” if you think the problem is “I’m on my way to Nowhere” to “I think I’m going to go over a cliff.”
With this scoring system, enter a number to the left of each factor based on how much positive or negative stress it causes. When you complete all 25, add your score and read your stress assessment.
The most important recommendation is that after completing the test and scoring, regardless of the result, get to know and commit to a REAL wellness way of thinking/lifestyle. TRUE wellness means a lifestyle and mindset guided by reason, inspired by exuberance, supported
athleticism and made possible by freedom.
_____ 1. Choice of profession or career
_____ 2. Current job or ability to make a satisfying living
_____ 3. Marital or partnership status
_____ 4. Primary relationships (family and best friends)
_____ 5. Ability to have fun and the extent to which you regularly experience good times
_____ 6. Number of recent occasions when you felt exuberant, filled with the feeling that “life is good”
_____ 7. Financial situation and future prospects
_____ 8. A sense of who you are and how you are developing (self-esteem and self-confidence)
_____ 9. Meaning and purpose of life (includes “spirituality”)
_____ 10. Level of self-worth and assessment of how others see you
_____ 11. Chances of influencing those who know you, and perhaps others
_____ 12. Sex life
_____ 13. The body, how it looks and acts
_____ 14. Home life, including a variety of interests and passions
_____ 15. Life skills and education – awareness of issues and facts that are not related to your job or profession
_____ 16. Ability to deal with changes, crises, setbacks and all possible unexpected situations
_____ 17. Nutritional knowledge, attitudes and patterns of consumption
_____ 18. Ability to recover from disappointments, injuries and tragedies
_____ 19. Potentials
_____ 20. A range of interests and a balanced quality in your life
_____ 21. The feeling that life is on an upward curve for you, getting better and more fulfilling
_____ 22. Level of participation in issues and problems that are outside of your immediate interest
_____ 23. Parenting choices and styles/principles for
_____ 24. Role in the network of friends, relatives and/or others
_____ 25. Emotional acceptance of the inevitable reality of aging, decay and death
Add plus and subtract minus numbers. Write the total in this space: ______
+ 60 to + 75 – Overall, you are in a very good place and it is unlikely that you will be constantly disturbed by stressors. You have a lot of positive factors in your life that outweigh any stress management
techniques (eg deep breathing, meditation and so on), will make you largely immune to the harmful effects of negative emotions in dealing with what life throws at you. There are few challenges that are likely to separate you from a continuous feeling of near well-being as long as your contentment
the level remains high as indicated in this assessment.
36 to + 59 – You are doing well, much better than most. The available information about the concept of wellness should be attractive to you and in line with your movement towards an efficient and healthy life. You already have a fine-tuned ability to deal creatively and effectively with events and circumstances. Additional advances should come easily to you. All the best in moving forward with learning new skills, especially in the areas of critical thinking, exuberant life experiences, physical fitness, and expanding personal freedoms and choices.
20 to + 35 – You have a well-founded understanding of the importance of lifestyle choices in influencing the quality of your life. You know the value of personal responsibility, a supportive environment and the cumulative positive effects of small changes, over time. In the coming months, put extra energy into learning ways to strengthen certain areas. You can increase your satisfaction while reducing your stressors.â€‹
0 to + 19 – You can obviously benefit from a modest investment in learning ways to reduce stress and increase pleasure. A series of negative circumstances could cause emotional failures. Take steps now to avoid slowing down your steady progress toward mastering the good life and self-efficacy.
The following recommendation applies to the above score range (0 to +19) and all three score ranges below: Review the elements of stress identified in the 25 statements. Google or find at least basic information about these key stress-related issues. Retake the test after reading this and, where appropriate, practice the selected techniques and perspectives.
-1 to – 17. Your ability to use the foundational skills of REAL well-being is hindered by insufficient management of the stressors in your life. These four key skill areas are 1) making decisions based on reason, 2) enjoying excellent qualities of life, 3) practicing the two keys to athleticism (exercise and wise nutrition), and 4) being able to break free from self-imposed limitations on your personal freedoms. This is a mental health issue of significant consequence.
-18 to -37 – Stress of a daily nature that interferes with a good life is a serious problem — and it deserves your attention. Stress of a consistent negative nature in life will undermine your motivation to choose wisely and to maintain the energy levels necessary for good health and a pleasant life. You are a candidate for counseling. Either you are too pessimistic or you have serious problems in dealing with stress.
-38 to -75 – Oh my God. What do you do – Are you North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Il, the ruling dictator of the Hermit Kingdom? Do you work in the Trump White House? Something, many things, must be done to lighten the load, to remove much of the burden of stress from your life.
Let’s look on the bright side for a moment – you’re still alive, you managed to complete the test without having a heart attack, and you probably have a sense of humor, more or less. But seriously, if you’re really as stressed as this little set of awareness questions suggests, it’s time to talk to a wellness professional.
Thank you for taking my stress self-assessment test.
All the best wishes. Be good.
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