Stress is a fact of life. Anyone who leads an active life is faced with problems, frustrations, and an inability to cope effectively with certain situations that seem insurmountable. There are days when we wish we had stayed in bed!

Fortunately, the human body has a finely-tuned system for recognizing danger and serious threats to our physical well-being. Our five senses send messages to the brain, which processes this information. We weigh the situation and decide what action is appropriate: fight or flight.

Then a series of rapid physiological changes takes place: the adrenaline starts to flow, our breathing rate increases, our emotions are aroused. Although everyone responds to stress with a certain degree of emotion, some people are able to deal with it more satisfactorily than others. We speak of them as being “well adjusted” or “together.” We refer to others as “neurotic” or “unable to cope.”

Many people group the terms neurotic and psychotic together as forms of mental illness, or insanity. This is unfortunate since every active human displays some degree of neurotic behaviour from time to time. We are all on a continuum stretching from normal (and often dull) at one end to exciting (and sometimes neurotic) at the other end. The amount of stress present and our ability to cope with it are the two factors that push us one way or the other on the stress continuum.

This self-test will help you to understand the different types of responses to stress, how they distribute in your personality, what kinds of situations are most stressful, and how able you are to deal with stress. Answer each question as candidly as you can to get an honest picture of your tolerance for stress.

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