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STARTING OVER AGAIN

Just how much stress are you under?

Part 6

A Continuing Series on Getting on with Your Life by Harlan L. Jacobsen

MAJOR LIFE CHANGES TURN ON A STRESS ALARM SYSTEM THAT SAYS TO YOUR BODY "GET UP TIGHT. GET READY TO RUN FOR YOUR LIFE."

When you become divorced, many of the day to day mental computer functions that used to be automatic are changed and you go back on manual. Daily living habits are changed, social interactions are changed, sexual activities are changed. Goals are changed or dropped and your mental processor is handling tremendous amounts of new patternsómost on manual.

FOUR THINGS TURN ON YOUR BODY ALARM WHEN YOU BECOME DIVORCED:

1. Not being able to do what you always did turns on a body alarmólike drug withdrawal pains, from stopping doing some behavior that was automatic.

2. Doing things you have never done before, like taking over total responsibility from your own financial survival, turns on a panic bodily alarm.

3. Fear, of the unknown, getting into change, unfamiliar territory that you donít know you can handle and your very survival is at stake. No appropriate programming on file for what is happening and where you are going.

4. Mentally processing over and over what is happening to you, trying to process "crazy making" data that has no answer or apparent solution. This uses up tremendous emotional energy and turns on an anxiety body alarm.

WHEN UNDER LONG TERM STRESS YOUR IMMUNE SYSTEM IS SHUT DOWN OR DIMINISHED.

Anything that comes along during this would normally overcome (including cancer) has a much better chance to take hold.

IT IS HOW YOU HANDLE WHATíS HAPPENING

The medical profession now recognizes that your chances of coming down with something or having some body part break down or fail are almost in direct proportion to the amount of stress you have in your life, and what you do about that stress and how long you stay in it.

THEY HAVE DEVELOPED STRESS TEST TO HELP YOU PREDICT YOUR CHANCES OF BECOMING MENTALLY OR PHYSICALLY ILL

The following test will make you aware of some of the stressful changes that are presently happening to you. Keep in mind, for example, if your job was "housewife", you have also been fired from your job (number 8). This test was written for the general publicónot for divorce. You will, if you are a man in divorce for example, almost always be involved in number 28, major change in living condition.

(Find out with this test)

Researchers say itís a cinch your chances of getting sick go up every time a big event takes place in your life.

According to medical professionals, the more change that occurs in your life, the more likely you are to become ill. This applies to any kind of change ...good or bad!

Of the people who have collected more than three hundred life-change units during the past twelve months, almost 80 percent will get sick (mentally or physically) in the near future. Of those with 150 to 299 life-change units, about 50 percent will get sick in the near future. Of those with less than 150 life change units, only about 30 percent will get sick. So, the higher your life-change score, the harder you should work to stay well!!

DIRECTIONS: Read each life event carefully, checking the ones that have happened to you during the last 12 months. Then, add up the points and read on!

Life Event Mean Value

1. Death of a spouse 100

2. Divorce 73

3. Marital separation from mate 65

4. Detention in jail or other institution 63

5. Death of a close family member 63

6. Major personal injury or illness 53

7. Marriage 50

8. Being fired at work 47

9. Marital reconciliation with mate 45

10. Retirement from work 45

11. Major change in the health or behavior of a family member 44

12. Pregnancy 40

13. Sexual difficulties 39

14. Gaining a new family member (e.g., through birth, adoption, oldster moving in, etc.) 39

15. Major business readjustment (e.g., merger, reorganization, bankruptcy, etc.) 39

16. Major change in financial state (e.g., a lot worse off or a lot better off than usual) 38

17. Death of a close friend 37

18. Changing to a different line of work 36

19. Major change in the number of arguments with spouse (e.g., either a lot more or a lot less than usual regarding child-rearing, personal habits, etc.) 35

20. Taking on a mortgage greater than $100,000 (e.g., purchasing a home, business, etc.) 31

21. Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan 30

22. Major change in responsibilities at work (e.g., promotion, demotion, lateral transfer) 29

23. Son or daughter leaving home (e.g., marriage, attending college, etc.) 29

24. In-law troubles 29

25. Outstanding personal achievement 28

26. Wife beginning or ceasing work outside the home 26

27. Beginning or ceasing formal schooling 26

28. Major change in living conditions (e.g., building a new home, remodeling, deterioration of home or neighborhood) 25

29. Revision of personal habits (dress, manners, associations, etc.) 24

30. Troubles with the boss 23

31. Major change in working hours or conditions 20

32. Changes in residence 20

33. Changing to a new school 20

34. Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation 19

35. Major change in church activities (e.g., a lot more or a lot less than usual) 19

36. Major change in social activities (e.g., clubs, dancing, movies, visiting, etc.) 18

37. Taking on a loan or mortgage less than $10,000 (e.g., purchasing a car, TV, freezer, etc.) 17

38. Major change in sleeping habits (a lot more or a lot less sleep, or change in part of day when asleep) 16

39. Major change in number of family-get-togethers (e.g., a lot more or a lot less than usual) 15

40. Major change in eating habits (a lot more or a lot less food intake, or very different meal hours or surroundings) 15

41. Vacation 13

42. Christmas 12

43. Minor violations of the law (e.g., traffic tickets, jaywalking, disturbing the peace, etc.) 11

CHECK YOUR SCORE:

300 or more points

80 percent chance of becoming mentally or physically ill

150 to 299 points

50 percent chance of becoming mentally or physically ill

150 or less points

only 30 percent chance of becoming mentally or physically ill

*The Social Readjustment Rating Scale

Courtesy of Thomas H. Holmes, M.D., Professor of Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington.

NEXT ISSUE: precautions to take because of stress. Methods of getting rid of and handling the divorce-induced stress and doing it right away. (With your present financial crisis because of your divorce, you really donít need doctor and hospital bills too, so pay attention.)

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