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Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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2.2 Identifying your Holmes–Rahe stress factors

In the following activity you will look at your own stress factors as identified by Holmes and Rahe.

Activity 3 About you: stress factors

Timing: Allow about 10 minutes

Take a look through the stress factors identified by Holmes and Rahe (see Table 1). Tally up your score of the events that have happened to you in the last year. People frequently say this tool helps them see their lives in a different way, and to acknowledge why they are struggling.

Table 1 The Holmes–Rahe life stress inventory:
Life event Mean value
1 Death of spouse 100
2 Divorce 73
3 Marital separation 65
4 Detention in jail or other institution 63
5 Death of a close family member 63
6 Major personal injury or illness 53
7 Marriage 50
8 Redundancy 47
9 Marital reconciliation 45
10 Retirement from work 45
11 Major change in the health or behaviour of a family member 44
12 Pregnancy 40
13 Sexual difficulties 39
14 Gaining a new family member (i.e. birth, adoption, older adult moving in, etc.) 39
15 Major reorganisation at work 39
16 Major change in financial state (i.e. a lot worse or better off than usual) 38
17 Death of a close friend 37
18 Changing to a different line of work 36
19 Major change in the number of arguments with spouse (i.e. either a lot more or a lot less than usual regarding child rearing, personal habits, etc.) 35
20 Taking on a mortgage 31
21 Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan 30
22 Major change in responsibilities at work (i.e. promotion, demotion, etc.) 29
23 Son or daughter leaving home (marriage, attending university) 29
24 In-law troubles 29
25 Outstanding personal achievement 28
26 Spouse beginning or ceasing work outside the home 26
27 Beginning or ceasing formal schooling 26
28 Major change in living condition (new home, home improvements, deterioration of neighbourhood or home, etc.) 25
29 Change to personal habits (dress, quitting smoking) 24
30 Troubles with the boss 23
31 Major changes in working hours or conditions 20
32 Changes in residence 20
33 Changing to a new school 20
34 Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation 19
35 Major change in church activity (i.e. a lot more or a lot less than usual) 19
36 Major change in social activities (clubs, movies, visiting, etc.) 18
37 Taking on a loan (car, tv, freezer, etc.) 17
38 Major change in sleeping habits (a lot more or a lot less than usual) 16
39 Major change in number of family get togethers 15
40 Major change in eating habits (a lot more or less food intake, or very different meal hours or surroundings) 15
41 Holiday 13
42 Major holidays 12
43 Minor violations of the law (parking tickets, etc.) 11
(adapted from the American Institute of Stress, n.d)


Some of these factors may surprise you, in particular that events often seen as positive can be sources of stress too. The aim here is just to increase your awareness of the different stresses you might be facing. According to the American Institute of Stress (n.d.):

  • 150 points or fewer means a relatively low amount of life change and a low susceptibility to stress-induced health issues

  • 300 points or more raises the likelihood of significant health issues in the next two years to about 80%, according to the Holmes–Rahe statistical prediction model.