Developing career resilience
Developing career resilience

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Developing career resilience

2.1 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 acknowledge why they are struggling.

Table 1 The Holmes–Rahe life stress inventory:

Life eventMean value
1Death of spouse100
3Marital separation65
4Detention in jail or other institution63
5Death of a close family member63
6Major personal injury or illness53
9Marital reconciliation45
10Retirement from work45
11Major change in the health or behaviour of a family member44
13Sexual difficulties39
14Gaining a new family member (i.e. birth, adoption, older adult moving in, etc.)39
15Major reorganisation at work39
16Major change in financial state (i.e. a lot worse or better off than usual) 38
17Death of a close friend37
18Changing to a different line of work36
19Major 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
20Taking on a mortgage31
21Foreclosure on a mortgage or loan30
22Major change in responsibilities at work (i.e. promotion, demotion, etc.)29
23Son or daughter leaving home (marriage, attending university)29
24In-law troubles29
25Outstanding personal achievement28
26Spouse beginning or ceasing work outside the home26
27Beginning or ceasing formal schooling26
28Major change in living condition (new home, home improvements, deterioration of neighbourhood or home, etc.)25
29Change to personal habits (dress, quitting smoking)24
30Troubles with the boss23
31Major changes in working hours or conditions20
32Changes in residence20
33Changing to a new school20
34Major change in usual type and/or amount of recreation19
35Major change in church activity (i.e. a lot more or a lot less than usual)19
36Major change in social activities (clubs, movies, visiting, etc.)18
37Taking on a loan (car, tv, freezer, etc.)17
38Major change in sleeping habits (a lot more or a lot less than usual)16
39Major change in number of family get togethers15
40Major change in eating habits (a lot more or less food intake, or very different meal hours or surroundings)15
42Major holidays12
43Minor 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.

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