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Reclaim sense of balance, calm during busy season
Assess your stress level

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ILLUSTRATION BY DANIELLE McKENRICK/THE FREE LANCE-STAR
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Date published: 12/20/2009

BY DONYA CURRIE

FOR THE FREE LANCE-STAR

How often have you felt that difficulties were piling up so high you could not overcome them?

Do you suffer from tension headaches or stomach distress or have trouble sleeping?

Do you try to do as much as possible in the least amount of time?

Do you feel vaguely guilty if you just relax and do nothing?

These are just some of the questions posed by a multitude of online stress inventory tools designed to help people understand stress, find ways to cope and even seek professional help if necessary.

"I think part of the problem with stress is that people don't always know what to name what they're feeling," said Fredericksburg mental health counselor Linda LaFave. "Once it's named, it's easier to know what to do with it."

In the words of

the stress quiz at mayoclin ic.com, "Stress is what you experience when the level of your stressors exceeds your ability to cope."

Stress is linked to such health woes as heart disease, depression and obesity, so getting a handle on it is a key to overall well-being.

For some, a warm bath at the end of the day can melt stress. Others might find that strategy as pleasant as a root canal. That's where many online stress management tools can offer strategies and help pinpoint what's causing the stress in the first place.

ASSESS YOURSELF

The online Mayo Clinic Stress Assessment, for example, which was crafted by mental health professionals, asks a series of six questions such as:

"In the past month, how often did you feel that you were unable to control the most important things in your life?"

The Mayo Clinic quiz also features a sliding bar allowing users to rank their stress level on a scale of one to five.

Another stress quiz, found at about.com and posted by mental health counselor Elizabeth Scott, pinpoints possible physical symptoms linked to stress--such as tension headaches, decreased sex drive and fatigue.

National Geographic's online stress quiz seeks to find out how much you know about stress and how it affects you body. For instance, did you know people with the smallest social networks are 2.5 times more likely to die than those with lots of connections?


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Learn about your stress level, your stress triggers and when you should seek help, by using some online tools. E2