Fresh Living

We all have stress in our lives, right?  And that’s as it should be–a moderate level of stress helps us do good things like strive to achieve at work, work to make relationships stronger, and–let’s not forget the fight-or-flight classic–run from any saber tooth tigers that might be chasing us.

Chronic, unchecked stress, however, is a different story.  When our “fight-or-flight” reflexes are in perpetual hyper-drive, we suffer from everything from depression to chronic pain to serious illnesses.  

Roberta Lee, MD, has a terrific new book out that can help you cope if you have what she calls “SuperStress.”  We just published a lovely gallery of 11 tips for lowering SuperStress, and below, she’s been kind enough to share a 5-minute, 20-question quiz to help you figure out if SuperStress is your diagnosis. 

Fair warning, though–I just took the quiz and discovered myself to display all 5 “Types” of SuperStress below.  Sigh, we sensitivos are certainly on a journey, aren’t we.  Let’s keep on that journey, together.  Deal?

Do You Have SuperStress? Take the 5 Minute Quiz to
Find Out

By Roberta Lee M.D.,
Author of The SuperStress Solution

The SuperStress Solution is all about understanding the toll stress
takes on you personally and developing strategies for managing it. Once
you are aware of the ways in which stress affects you and you begin to
follow the steps of my solution, you’ll notice that the inevitable
stress in your life will affect you less both physically and
emotionally. With self-awareness comes stress resilience. In other
words, the SuperStress Solution is a plan that is designed to work in
conditions where stress doesn’t just go away.

Get started by
filling out the following questionnaire. It won’t take much time at
all, but will help you better understand what you’re experiencing, and
determine your individual level and type of SuperStress so that you can
personalize your management plans.

Respond to each question, using the following 4-point scale:
0 = Never
1 = Rarely
2 = Sometimes
3 = Often

  1. How often do you feel like you are getting sick? ____
  1. How often are you eating on the run (at your desk working, while
    driving or walking)? ____
  1. How often during meals and meetings do you respond to emails/text
    messages on your PDA or cell phone? ____
  1. How often do you skip meals because you are too busy to eat? ____
  1. How often do you feel that watching TV is the most relaxing
    activity you do? ____
  1. How often are you forgetful? ____
  1. How often do you feel tired during the day? ____
  1. How often do you feel that your life is out of control? ____
  1. How often do you have trouble focusing? ____
  1. How often do you lie awake at night ruminating? ____
  1. How often do you have a difficult time sitting still? ____
  1. How many times do you feel exhausted and can’t seem to recover —
    no matter how much rest you get? ____
  1. How many times do you find yourself reading the same paragraph
    over and
    over and feeling increasingly frustrated that you just “don’t get it”?
  1. How often do feel like you are close to tears or sensitive to the
    criticism of others? ____
  1. How often do you try to do everything yourself? ____
  1. How often do you feel you are fighting a losing battle trying to
    up with your kids’ sports schedule, French lessons, dental appointments
    and homework or your own work deadlines?____
  1. How often do you have two or more major problems that you can’t
    seem to resolve? ____
  1. How often do you feel as if your stomach is tied up in knots? ____
  1. How often are you canceling social engagements or family outings
    to finish a work project? ____
  1. How often do you find yourself angry and annoyed with
    others-including those at home? ____

Are you stressed?
Tally your answers to all 20 questions.
Based on your total, see how you fall into the following categories:

Not stressed: 4 or less
Somewhat stressed: 5-8
Stressed: 9-12
SuperStressed: 12+

What stress type are you?
are generally five SuperStress personality types, each identifiable by
the way you behave and respond to stress. Many of you, however, may see
that your behavior corresponds to more than one type.

For each
category below, tally your answers for the listed questions and circle
the one with the highest total. That is your stress type. In the case
of a tie, your behavior may correspond to both stress types.

Probably Not your type:
Could be your type: 1- 2
Probably your type: 3-4

Total for questions 12 and 16 ___Type I
Total for questions 13 and 17 ___Type II
Total for questions 14 and 18 ___Type III
Total for questions 15 and 19 ___Type IV
Total for questions 11 and 20 ___Type V

Type I: Burned Out, Exhausted, Numb, Depressed

you find yourself struggling to keep your thoughts from drifting at
meetings or at home? Instead of enjoying your family after work, do you
more often long for the end of the day and a few minutes to yourself?
If the answers to these questions are yes then you may have developed
into a Type I: Burned Out, Exhausted, Numb and Depressed type.

Type II: Agitated, Can’t Concentrate, Overwhelmed by Life
and irritable to distraction? Do you have days when your agitation is
so great that you’re distracted by your own restlessness? Are you
dreaming of the days when sleep came easily to you, well then you are a
typical Type II.

Type III: Emotionally sensitive
Type III
people are emotionally vulnerable or especially sensitive to criticism.
This person’s exhaustion has drained them of their sense of humor. They
tend to be weepy or melancholy. If you find yourself in this
assemblage, I’m guessing that every little stressor potentially finds
its way directly to your stomach. Every knock to your self-esteem
creates an emotional turmoil that impacts your digestion.

Type IV: Driven, Controlling
you’re a Type IV person, you are first-rate at setting a goal and going
at it full steam ahead until that goal is reached. But there’s a flip
side of that achievement: Type IVs are generally work-obsessed, so,
after a while, goal achievement, over-attention to detail, and a
tendency toward micromanagement become the only way they can handle
situations that feel out of control.

Type V: Explosive, Can’t Slow Down
are many people in this world who are Type Vs, no matter what their
occupation; people in whom SuperStress creates aggressive behavior and
results in a lack of resilience when it’s needed most. Type Vs
essentially use every means possible to keep things going at an
ultrafast pace — living on coffee, caffeine enhanced colas or other
stimulant providing, sugar laden foods. SuperStress creates a situation
in which for this person there is little tolerance for mistakes. When
they do occur, mistakes often provoke an explosive — out of proportion
to the issue at hand — reaction.

By helping readers identify
their level and type of stress, The SuperStress Solution will provide
personalized strategies for managing it. The book contains a more
extensive version of the questionnaire you just completed, which will
enable readers to get even more tailored results. In addition, we’ll be
allowing users to take the typing portion of the questionnaire online
so they can easily tally their results and jump right into the 4-week
SuperStress Solution program.

Take the longer quiz online at:

To reduce stress, and avoid SuperStress, try
this today:

Simple as it sounds; focused breathing — during which you think about
your breath as you inhale and exhale — is a very effective
stress-management technique. A slow, full breath triggers physical and
cognitive changes that promote relaxation. Deep breathing helps release
tension and anxiety and is a great energizer because the deeper the
breath, the more your body is flooded with life-fueling oxygen. A full
breath begins with the diaphragm pushing downward so that the stomach
extends out. As your lungs fill with air, your chest expands. When you
exhale, the reverse occurs — your chest settles first and then your

  • When anxiety strikes or you find yourself focusing on
    thoughts, immediately exhale through your mouth.
  • Now, open your lungs, and breathe in through your nose,
    in a fresh, cleansing air to the count of four.
  • Exhale again slowly to the count of five.
  • Repeat four times.

Copyright © 2009 Roberta Lee M.D.,
author of The SuperStress Solution

Roberta Lee, M.D., author of The SuperStress Solution, is
vice chair of the Department of Integrative Medicine, director of
Continuing Medical Education, and co-director of the Fellowship in
Integrative Medicine at Beth Israel’s Continuum Center for Health and
Healing at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. Dr. Lee
attended George Washington University Medical School and is one of the
four graduates in the first class from the Program of Integrative
Medicine at the University of Arizona conducted by Andrew Weil, M.D.

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