LIFESTYLES by Ronda Gates Weekly Message
Weekly Gems from Ronda Gates.

ON TRANSITION--For Your Consideration

If you have ever wondered why someone you know always gets sick but you don't (or vice versa), you might find the Holmes Rahe Social Readjustment Scale published in 1967 in the journal of Psychosomatic Research interesting. This 43 item inventory was developed after physicians became aware that people tend to have serious illnesses, injuries, surgical operations, psychiatric disorders, even pregnancy, when clusters of major life changing events took place in their lives. In other words, too much change in too short a period of time takes its toll on the adaptive capabilities of the human body, lowers resistance and increases the risk of major changes in health.

Drs. Holmes and Rahe reviewed more than 10,000 cases before assigning points to events based on the amount, duration and severity of change required to cope with each item. Marriage, for example, was assigned 50 stress points with losing a spouse by death twice as stressful (100 points) and change in living conditions only 1/2 as stressful at 25 points. The more changes a person undergoes in a given period of time, the more points are accumulated. A higher score is a predictor that health change will occur.

According to Holmes and Rahe, if you score between 150 and 199 in one year, you have a 37 percent chance of getting sick during the following year. If you score between 200 and 299, your chances of getting sick jump to 51 percent. And if you score over 300, you have a 79 percent chance of getting sick during the following year.

The scale has never been updated and life has certainly changed in the last 30 years. Today the scale might include lack of exercise, exposure to pollution, concern about world events, two parents working, or single parent families. Regardless the inventory gives us an opportunity to notice and, like much of what we do in our business life, create a map for living in our personal life as well. Acknowledging it's possible to predict our future means it's also possible to order life by managing the change that is a vital part of living.

If you've been in the audience at one of my keynotes on stress you've been given one of these inventories. If not, scan the following list of life changes, pinpoint the ones experienced within the last year, and add up the numerical scores to get a total. Then compare it to the score above and plan for change:

  • Death of spouse 100
  • Divorce 73
  • Marital separation 65
  • Jail term 63
  • Death of close family member 63
  • Personal injury or illness 53
  • Marriage 50
  • Fired at work 47
  • Marital reconciliation 45
  • Retirement 45
  • Change in health of family member 44
  • Pregnancy 40
  • Sexual difficulties 39
  • Gain of new family member 39
  • Business readjustment 39
  • Change in financial status 38
  • Death of close friend 37
  • Change to different line of work 36
  • Change in number of arguments with spouse 35
  • Mortgage or loan over $10,000 31
  • Foreclosure of mortgage or loan 30
  • Change in responsibilities at work 29
  • Son or daughter leaving home 29
  • Trouble with in-laws 29
  • Outstanding personal achievement 28
  • Spouse begins or quits work 26
  • Change in living conditions 25
  • Change in personal habits 24
  • Trouble with boss 23
  • Change in work hours or conditions 20
  • Change in residence 20
  • Change in recreation 19
  • Change in number or type of church activities 19
  • Change in number or type of social activities 18
  • Mortgage or loan under $10,000 17
  • Change in sleeping habits 16
  • Change in number of family get-togethers 15
  • Change in eating habits 15
  • Vacation 13
  • Christmas 12
  • Minor violations of the law 11


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