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Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise
Talking about the menopause: symptoms, support and the role of exercise

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6 How stressed are you?

You may have heard of the Life Change Index Scale, developed in 1967 by Holmes and Rahe which ranks life events or situations according to how stressful they are for the individual experiencing them. According to this scale, the most stressful events are related to one’s close personal relationships, so that coming top of the list is death of a spouse, scoring 100, followed by divorce (73) and marital separation (65). The scale is then developed to show the link between stress and the likelihood of illness, with an overall score of 300+ predicting an 80% chance of future illness. Even at a relatively low level of stress, with a score of less than 150, the chance of becoming ill in future is predicted at 30%. In Activity 2 you will look at the scale and assess your own stress level.

Activity 2 The life change index scale

Timing: Allow 10 minutes

Click on the link to access the Life Change Index Scale, complete the test and then add up your total.

Life change index scale [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)]

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You may have noticed that the menopause is not specifically mentioned. However, the scale does include items that might well affect you within menopause. If you were to tick the items related to personal illness, sexual difficulties, changes in relationship with spouse and in personal, sleeping and eating habits, and changes in work conditions (which might include the effects of the menopause on your comfort at work), this would add a total of 202 ‘Life Change Units’ to your overall score. Add on a few other fairly normal life events, and your score can easily reach a level where stress is very likely to affect your health.

If you consider the menopause in this context. It is very common for those in perimenopause to feel that it has come from nowhere, that its effects are unpredictable and that they have no control over it or the effects on their bodies. Many feel that they have done nothing any different, but they don’t even recognise or own their bodies any more. This can be a source of extreme stress. You’ll learn about some ways to reduce this stress in the next section.