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Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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2.1 About you: life change and stress factors

In Week 3, you’ll start to look at your own career resilience in more detail, but here you’ll explore a useful tool that will help you identify the stress factors you’ve experienced over the last year. Keep them in mind as you progress through the course.

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Figure 3

Each of us has periods of extreme stress when just carrying on can require considerable resilience. Sometimes several stressful occurrences come together. Sometimes you aren’t at the centre of the story yourself, but major stress affecting someone close to you can affect you. You can become so used to ploughing on, troubleshooting and firefighting that you are less aware when the multiple stresses you are facing are extreme.

In 1967, US psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe looked at the medical records of patients, and asked them to tally stress factors in their lives. They then monitored the individuals’ illness levels, demonstrating the increased likelihood of illness with elevated stress levels.

Although this research is still regularly referred to today, the stress factors identified 50 years ago don’t take into account some twenty-first-century stressors. They don’t, for example, include zero-hours contracts, working multiple jobs or living through a global pandemic. Individuals react differently, but this is nonetheless an interesting way to start to identify the relative stress levels that you are facing at present.