How stressed are you? Assess your anxiety levels with our revealing quiz

It's National Stress Awareness Day, and to mark the occasion Liz Hoggard, author of 'How To Be Happy', offers you the chance to discover if you're comatose, heathily laid-back, or on the verge of a breakdown. Relax, but be honest...
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Indy Lifestyle Online

1 In the past month, how often have you experienced broken sleep?

a) 5-8 times

b) At least twice

c) Never

2 You get a phone call at home on your day off, do you assume it's

a) Your mother phoning for a gossip

b) A friend calling to invite you out

c) Your boss demanding to know why you haven't submitted the report



3 Have you had a serious panic attack?

a) Yes. The first time I thought I was having a heart attack

b) No, I enjoy stress if it's short-term

c) Surely nothing's worth ruining your life over?



4 Do you regard your journey to work as

a) Living hell

b) An adrenaline-charged challenge

c) An opportunity to read a good book



5 What is your first thought on waking?

a) Did I really say that last night?

b) I'm a bit behind at work but never mind, its 6am and I can catch up

c) Is it Christmas?



6 You walk into a party where you don't know a soul. Do you...

a) Curse that you always have to come to these bloody things on your own

b) Scan the room for the guest who might have matching interests, then introduce yourself

c) Head for the bar



7 Be honest, how often have you been drunk in the past month?

a) More than eight times

b) Once or less

c) Four times or fewer



8 You're shattered but you still have all the housework to do. Do you

a) Ignore it because you're so busy but hate yourself because you live in a slum

b) Put on something impossibly camp like Gloria Gaynor's "I Will Survive" and do it as fast as possible

c) Get your flatmate to pay for a cleaner



9 Which statement most accurately sums up your attitude to life?

a) I never settle for second best

b) Faced with a choice, I weigh the options, but no one gets it right all the time

c) Things have a habit of working out



10 Do you have headaches, an upset stomach, sweaty palms, skin problems?

a) Yes, constantly

b) Occasionally

c) No



11 You receive bad news out of the blue. Do you...

b) Call your 24-hour, on-tap best buddy

a) Weep copiously. Once you're in your 30s, it's death and tragedy from now on

c) Consider phoning a friend but it's not fair to burden them with the real you



12 How often does pressure at home or work mean you have to cancel an evening out with friends?

c) Nearly every week

b) Sometimes, but me-time is good

a) Are you kidding, I never go out!



13 Do you regard your work as

c) A job - you're there for the money

b) A career - you're there for the status

a) A calling - you'd do it for love, even if you weren't paid



14 Which statement best sums up your attitude to sexual relationships?

b) I find it relatively easy to get close to people and am comfortable depending on them. I don't worry about being abandoned or someone getting too close to me

c) I'm pretty chilled, but partners sometimes want me to be more open than I am comfortable with

a) Others are reluctant to get as close as I would like. I often worry my partner doesn't love me or may not stay with me. I want to merge with another person and this scares people away



15 How does drinking make you feel?

c) Mellow, but detached

b) Jolly and garrulous. A bit weepy if the brandy comes out

a) A screaming harpy who ends spilling home truths that you have carefully bottled up for years. Minicab drivers won't take your calls any more



16 You're relaxing on a Sunday, still not dressed, eating beans on toast. A good friend calls round unexpectedly. Do you

a) Scream, refuse to answer the door and switch the lights off - and hate yourself all day for being so inflexible

b) Answer, but explain good-naturedly that you need 10 minutes' warning

c) Open more beans



17 Do you ever think about your frustrated childhood dreams (wanting to be a popstar, footballer, novelist etc)?

a) To be honest, I've buried those dreams, they're too painful

b) Yes, and I've decided to join a choir/coach a youth team/write my own comedy routine so I can recreate some of that early passion

c) Who says I can't still be a popstar? Look at The X Factor



18 How well do you know your next door neighbours?

b) We're really close friends and constantly in and out of each other's houses

a) We're not staying in the area long, so it's hardly worth bothering

c) Does the postman count?



19 At the end of a nightmare day, your partner suggests sex. How do you reply?

b) What a lovely idea, darling, but I'm shattered. A cuddle would be great

a) Are you mad? I can't relax until I've finished this report, flossed my teeth, tidied the bedroom ... ooh, and lost at least two stone

c) Come over here, tiger



20 Which statement most accurately sums up your attitude to holidays?

b) When I'm frantically packing the night before I'd rather be going into work the next day, but when I get there, it makes everything worthwhile

a) I always make sure work can contact me by phone or text.

c) How come we're only going to Pembrokeshire and the secretary has a bloody villa in Puglia?



21 Can you name four things that you did well today?

a) No

b) Actually, yes, so clearly the day wasn't a complete disaster

c) I don't mean to be vain, but things usually work out for me



22 You are on a mini-break with a platonic friend and by mistake they give you a double room with a double bed! Do you

a) Tear the room apart, so you can sleep at least 10 feet apart

b) Calmly call reception and insist they find you an equivalent hotel

c) What's the problem with a bit of physical intimacy?



23 When you take a look at your house, do you think

a) How come all our friends can afford a second home in Norfolk?

b) My grandparents would have dreamed of living in a place like this

c) Better to rent, less responsibility



24 You're frantically busy, but your partner wants an important decision. What is your response?

b) I'd like to talk this over with you, but let's wait until we won't be disturbed. Can we put this off for a little bit?

a) Typical, you never want to talk when I suggest it

c) Honestly, I'm easy, you decide



25 You and a relative had a falling out. No one has spoken for months. Do you

c) Invite them out for a picnic or a sporting event. No need to dwell on the past

a) Wait for them to call, you compromise too much as it is

b) Call and make a date to go out, but acknowledge the argument straightaway



26 Your sister phones and says: "Have you called mum yet?" What is the subtext?

b) Your mother has some good news

a) It's a reproach: you haven't rung her

c) It's a family joke that you're lazy



27 You're having a family reunion. Do you...

a) Offer to hold it at your house, then do all the organising and feel resentful

c) Make an occasion out of things you do anyway: a barbecue, watching a film

b) Hold it at a neutral venue, a country park, village hall, restaurant, so you don't get swamped



28 What is your response when children start sulking?

a) Giving in to bad behaviour is weak

c) Sulking teaches them to get what they want by being unhappy

b) It's better to teach them that they can get what they want by being happy



29 When you watch TV, do you...

a) Constantly channel-hop to see what else is on

b) Plan your viewing selectively around other favourite activities

c) Slump on the sofa and watch programmes indiscriminately



30 Which statement most accurately sums up your feelings?

a) I spend a lot of time worrying about past mistakes

c)I plan for the future and never think about the past

b) I plan ahead but do feel nostalgic for some of the great times we shared



31 What is your best phrase to close down an argument with a partner?

b) I know we don't agree on this issue but I understand that you are as committed to your point of view as I am to mine, and I respect you for it.

a) I can never forgive you for not agreeing with me

c) You know, I've always fancied Jim



32 Sex with your partner has become a bit mundane/non-existent. Do you

a) Assume they're having an affair

b) Arrange a weekend away or a fancy dress party - people have the best sex ever after them

c) Realise you don't miss it anyway



33 Which statement most accurately sums up your feelings?

b) I feel in control of my life

a) I have difficulty in arranging my life in a way that is satisfying to me

c) I never think about it



34 A person you admire rejects you. How do you explain it?

b) Maybe there are qualities about me that he/she finds irritating

a) I am irritating

c) Frankly it's his/her loss



35 Which statement best sums up your attitude to friendship

a) People increasingly disappoint me. Let's be honest about this, most people can't be trusted

b) I look out for my friends and they look out for me

c) Life is too short to get hung up on people



36 Be honest, if smoeone says you look very stressed, do you feel...

a) Secretly thrilled, at long last someone actually realises how specially difficult your life is

b) Sad, how did it get like this? You resolve to cut down on your timetable

c) Puzzled. You've just spent 10 days on holiday in the Bahamas



What your answers say about you

Mostly As

Whoops, you're two days away from a nervous breakdown. You are what psychologists call a "maximiser", a perfectionist who always wants the best. Going out shopping or for a simple bite to eat becomes a nightmare because there is so much choice. Try to be less hard on yourself, you don't have to be perfect.

If your life is particularly frantic take care of yourself. Rest/sleep/ do nothing for half-an-hour. Stop listening to your pessimistic inner voice, often a distortion produced by unpleasant experiences in the past such as critical teachers.

Try to defend yourself, just as you'd defend your best friend. Remember what you like about yourself and, at the moments when you are not at your happiest, think about qualities you are glad to have. Try to think of the bigger picture. Ask yourself: what do I most like doing in life and never want it to end? When does time stop for me? It could be reading or ice-skating, but make sure you do more of it.

Don't fall into the trap of seeing life as a competition. Highly stressed, conscientious people are often less popular and successful than laid-back individuals. We like happy people because they make us feel good. And if you're in a tight spot, there's nothing wrong with faking happiness. People who feign high self-esteem begin feeling better about themselves.

Mostly Bs

Congratulations. You seem to have a healthy life/work balance. You understand that it's not wealth or status or celebrity that truly makes us happy, but close relationships with family, community, sex with someone you love, pleasant surroundings, trust in fellow human beings.

If you find yourself getting into a rut at work, you know how to seek feedback or more autonomy. For you, a pay rise is important for the inconspicuous "goods" it can buy you - such as flexitime, reliable childcare, a shorter commute to work. You take a realistic view of your relationship and you make constant bids for each other's attention throughout the day, whether it's e-mails or text messages .

Friendship is also huge part of your life, which is a great bonus as researchers have found that keeping up with friends rather than family is the key to a longer life. But don't be too prim. Remember you don't have to do "grown-up", intellectual things all the time. In its broadest sense, friendship is an adult version of children's play, involving laughter, mimicry, problem solving and the capacity to acquire valuable social and emotional skills.

When the going gets tough at work or home, make sure you -consciously factor more pleasure into your life, but remember that doesn't automatically mean losing yourself in alcohol or casual sex or shopping.

Mostly Cs

Blimey, you're so unstressed you're practically comatose. Of course, this can be a plus in our frantic 24/7 culture. But psychologists say that incorporating occasional mild bouts of stress into our daily routine can be good for our health. It increases the production of proteins that help to repair body cells, including those in the brain, and enables them to work at peak capacity. Plus you get the glow of pulling off a difficult task under pressure.

As a laid-back individual, you're slow to anger, tend to think the best of people and don't panic about making decisions. If you're happy with your lot, brilliant. But, be honest, maybe you're just a bit bored. And is your lack of passion a sign of lack of engagement with life? Remember, active hobbies tend to make us happier than those carried out slumped in an armchair.

In fact, psychologists say that sitting watching sitcoms on TV for hours on end is a sign of mild depression. Good friendships take motivation and effort. They don't just happen. You must want to interact with other people. Be honest, are you limiting yourself to the same old social group? Maybe you need to get out more to meet friends from different backgrounds and age groups.

Altruism may sound old-fashioned and worthy, but helping others is a good way of helping yourself. Tests show that we get greater long-term benefits from helping someone than from hedonistic pleasures. Scientists say being kind to others triggers a cascade of positive effects. It makes us feel generous and gives us a greater sense of connection with others. And all for free.

Liz Hoggard is author of How To Be Happy: Making Slough Happy, BBC Books, £14.99

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