Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory

Holmes-Rahe screenshot


Most of us do not know or have any way to judge the extent of all the stress in our lives. Acknowledging life stress is the first step to reducing it, or learning how better to cope.

Personally, I found the Holmes-Rahe Life Stress Inventory very helpful, as it allows me to stop and acknowledge the amount of stress I am under. By using this external, impartial scale, I can give myself compassion, as I see that lots of other people share the same stressors and that yes, I am not crazy, vacations ARE stressful!

This inventory assigns a number to all sorts of life stressors and will ask you to add up your total. Since stress impacts our health, the total number can be used to indicate the potential for disease in your life.

However, since stress is dictated by your RESPONSE to situations, NOT by the situation itself, you can choose to change your mindset around the stressful events to make them less stressful.

For example: Death of a family member is rated as very stressful, BUT if you can believe that the family member was suffering and is better off not suffering any more, although you may love and miss them, the event will be less stressful for you.


In 1967, psychiatrists Thomas Holmes and Richard Rahe examined over 5000 patient’s medical records to determine whether stressful events cause illnesses. Each event was assigned a numeric ‘weight’ for stress.

Patients were asked to add up the total points of all the stressful events that were occurring in their life at the moment. More events mean a higher score.

The premise is that stressors can be ranked by the degree of change or upheaval they typically cause in individuals’ lives. The scale lists common stressful events and assigns a value to the stress.


Click here to take the test – This link will open a PDF in a new window ► (After taking the test, return to this page to analyze results.)

After taking the test, analyze the Results below…

Interpretation of the overall score is difficult because of the large interpersonal differences in an individual’s ability to cope and their particular reactions to stress. However, there is a correlation between the total score and health outcomes.

A total score of less than 0 to 149 is good, with a less than 30% chance of illness in the next 2 years, suggesting a low level of stress and a low probability of developing a stress-related disorder.

If your score is between 150 and 299, the chances of your developing a stress-related disorder is about 50%.

If your score is greater than or equal to 300, statistically there is an almost 80% chance of getting ill in the next 2 years.

Get Help

If your score is not what you would have hoped, you can get help.

Source: https://academic.oup.com/occmed/article/67/7/581/4430935

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