Are you stressed? Do you worry that your stress levels are not normal? Do you fret that your reactions to everyday situations are an indicator of your total inability to cope with modern existence? Then why not take my handy personal stress self-assessment test? It’s easy, fun and at the end there will be an opportunity to review your score and get totally unprofessional advice about what your stress levels mean and what you should do about them.
Here we go. Question One: You open your eyes. It is not yet 6 a.m. and the dog is slapping your face with her paws. Do you a) Leap out of bed and pull on your clothes, grinning ironically at the thought that a dog is better than an alarm clock; b) Shut the dog out of the bedroom and get an extra hour’s kip; or c) Start to cuddle the dog, under the bed covers, while whingeing tearfully about the day ahead, before falling out of the bed sideways because you’re too tired to stand and crawling on your hands and knees to the laundry basket to find an unwashed pair of jeans?
Question Two: As you fling yourself around the kitchen trying to make breakfast, you burn your hand on the toaster. Do you a) Run your hand under the tap; b) Put Acriflex and a burn dressing on it to prevent scarring; or c) Not notice you’ve burnt yourself until you are unloading your shopping on to the belt at Waitrose nine hours later and the checkout lady is gawping in horror at your hand, at which point you look down at the wound and exclaim, ‘Oh, for goodness sake, I’ve got to go all the way to Boots as well now!’
Question Three: You get on the Tube to go to a business meeting. Do you spend the journey a) Reviewing your notes on your iPad; b) Reading a book or newspaper; or c) Getting angry about why the recorded Tube voice pronounces Warren Street ‘Wore-en Street’, thinking of what you will say when you lodge a formal complaint to London Underground about declining standards of received English, and miss your stop?
Question Four: While contemplating a trip up the M40 to visit your mother who has been ill in hospital, you decide that you really cannot face another long drive in the Fiat Panda you bought when your insurance premiums were wrecked by a false accident claim lodged against you by Wayne and Waynetta Slob nearly two years ago, which still rumbles on.
You decide you need another Volvo, to replace the one you gave your father when you couldn’t afford to insure it any more when your premium trebled, and which was then stolen from his driveway by thieves who used it as a getaway car. You therefore ask your ex-builder-boyfriend, who used to be a car dealer, to find you a Volvo on eBay, the way he found you that nice Panda.
A few hours later, he dutifully calls to say he has found you just what you want, but it’s in Bristol. Do you say a) ‘Oh, thank you so much, that’s so kind. Let’s you and I take a trip to Bristol, make a day of it. We can have lunch at a lovely little place I know in Montpelier’; b) ‘Thanks, I really appreciate you trying, but that’s a bit too far to go’; or c) ‘Bristol? BRISTOL?! I can’t get to Bristol! Bristol’s in Wales! Yes, it is! Well, you must have gone somewhere else when you thought you went to Bristol then, because I’ve been to Bristol many times and it’s definitely in Wales,’ then slam the phone down and a minute later feel so remorseful that you consider phoning him back to offer to rekindle your relationship, before realising that you must not do that because that would not be making it up to him, that would be making it worse.
Question Five: It’s late and you only have the energy to collapse in front of the TV for one programme. Do you a) Watch the news; b) Flick through the movie channels and select a relaxing romcom; or c) Get addicted to a macabre show on CBS called Dexter, about a ‘likeable’ serial killer who you promptly fall in love with and have strange dreams about?
If you scored mostly ‘a’s, well done, you are a coper. If mostly ‘b’s, I’m in awe. You do whatever it takes to look after yourself and will clearly never suffer a coronary.
If you scored mostly ‘c’s, I don’t know what to tell you. You’re a mess. I would pity you but, frankly, I don’t have time. I’m much too busy feeling sorry for myself. You will just have to go away and stress about it.