"15 Minutes 4 Me" developed a simple online stress meter so that you can have free weekly or monthly follow-ups.
Self-test measures Stress & Burnout
As a doctor you regularly come across people in your practice where you intuitively feel that stress is an important factor in explaining their ailments. Usually this feeling is right, but tht does not mean that the patient agrees with you. People under a lot of stress namely find this level of stress normal. However, that does not mean that your body agrees with you. To differentiate between healthy stress and negative feelings of tension, a short and simple test is a helpful tool. This way you can see which aspects of stress may or may not be present. This also makes the approach to treating it less difficult. A short example clarifies this:
I got a phone call today from a foreign friend who asked for help because he felt so bad and burnt out. Burnout? he asked me. From a distance it was difficult for me to objectively measure this. I asked him to fill out the online stress meter and to e-mail me the results. Both in tension and anxiety, he ended up in the red alarm zone of the graph. For depression in the orange zone. So the first priority in treatment was the tension and anxiety. I asked if he was willing to invest 15 minutes per day in solving his issue, and he was prepared to make this his top priority right away. After talking about the test, I asked if he could take several days off work. This did not seem to be possible without grave consequences. So we kept looking for small solutions which could help him. He decided to do the following things during the days that followed, to test if they could influence his tension levels: taking a daily walk, going to a spa every once in a while to enjoy the sauna and jacuzzi, taking a little more time for the small, normal things in life. Within a few days we would evaluate what the effect of these activities was. When it came to the anxiety, I taught him an anti-worrying exercise via Skype so that he could deal with his anxiety right away as soon as it would show itself. Furthermore he signed up for the online therapy program to make sure that his commitment would not stop after this one talk. We decided to call each other to evaluate how his stress level was evolving. Is he staying in the red zone? Or does his score decrease to a lower level?
Self-test measures your tension
As you can see in the example above, the stress-test measures your psychological and physical tension. Once you know that tension is present, it becomes obvious that you need to reduce this. Especially when anxious or depressed feelings are at play, because any type of stress has a negative influence on anxiety and depression.
Self-test measures your anxious feelings
Anxiety is a special, "hyperactive" form of stress. With several small specific questions, the stress meter can measure your anxiety feelings and by repeating the test on a regular basis, we can measure if your anxiety is reducing or getting worse during your therapy or self-help.
Self-test measures your depressed feelings
Depression is a very "immobilizing", passive type of stress. It takes your courage and initiative to do something away. This depressed feeling can also be simply measured at the hand of some short questions. By following the graph of your depressed feelings you can evaluate if your therapy or self-help is successful. As opposed to anxiety which can reduce very quickly, the reduction in depressed feelings tends to take some more time, up to several weeks sometimes. even.
The self-test stress meter follows up your evolution
If you take it once, you will see a picture of the moment you are in, so you can measure how your situation has been for the past few days. If you take it weekly or monthly, you can follow a graph with your improvement during your support, online therapy, or self-help program. You can also decide not to follow any program or guidance and to check in the following weeks if you manage to improve your scores without help. Feel free to test it!
Paul Koeck, MD