Are you stressed-out? Take this quiz to find out

STRESS is our internal response to a perceived external pressure. Everyone’s tolerance of stress is different – and can vary throughout their life. The challenge is to strike the right balance and work at maintaining that.

York-based performance coach Lisa Clifford works with businesses and individuals to help people reach their potential – including coping with stress.

She said: "A lot of stress is created from our own thoughts. I have a saying 'there is nothing more punishing than our own imagination'.”

So what are the signs of stress?

Lisa gives a list: short temper; weight gain or loss; fatigue; not sleeping; feeling emotional; having low self belief or lacking in confidence.

And the causes? "The major ones include marriage, a house move, a new job, divorce and bereavement." But there are others too. "Too many demands can create a tipping point," says Lisa. Negative thinking plays a part too, with the mind telling you stories, she says.

Making comparisons, worrying about money, not living life the way you had hoped, your work load, job insecurity, and feeling out of control – a sense that life is happening to you rather than you being in charge – can all lead to stress, says Lisa.

So how does stress make you feel? "It can lead to a range of feelings," says Lisa. "You can feel stuck and bored, overwhelmed, lost, vulnerable, aggressive, unhappy, demotivated, unworthy, unloveable."

Lisa adds: "Untreated and sustained, stress could lead to low self esteem and poor self image, isolation, destruction, depression and illness."

You can experience stress at this time of year for a variety of reasons, she says. "Not enough sunshine can create a low mood. People can have money worries, still trying to clear credit cards after Christmas.

"Also, intentions set for the year may have fallen away."

Lisa suggests four quick ways to soften the feeling of stress.

"Firstly, stop and write down the facts of situation, not the fiction, and keep your eye on the facts alone.

"Change your internal dialogue from hard and criticising to gentle and supportive.

"Remind yourself of your successes.

"Finally, create one small ritual a day that helps replenish your resilience bank. This could be going to bed an hour earlier every night, preparing ahead for the next day, drinking more water, arriving everywhere at least ten minutes early, starting with two minutes' meditation in the morning, cutting out energy sappers, whether that’s food such as bread or negative people who drag you down, and add in energy boosters instead, such as fruit and happy people."

Lisa says we should all take time to invest in our mental wellbeing. She is also am expert in hypnosis (trained by Paul McKenna) and a master practitioner of Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP) and said: "More and more companies are investing in training mental health first aiders: people who can spot their colleagues' mental well being deteriorating."

She will be hosting an event in York on Saturday May 4 called Mindset Breakthrough. "You will learn how to take control of your mindset, so your mind is aligned with what you want. You will also discover how to handle and overcome stress, build self confidence and self belief. In short, feel like you are in the driving seat of your mind and life, and feel more empowered."

Take Lisa's stress quiz:

Q1: When you wake up in the morning - do you feel:

A) Full of life and vigour

B) I'll be fine once I get going and drink a coffee

C) Oh no another day, I just need to survive

Q2: When someone asks a favour do you think:

A) No problem, let's get right to it

B) I guess I could help, not sure when

C) No way, I don't have the head space for anyone else

Q3: How do you feel at the thought of extra responsibility:

A) Thats’s exciting

B) Let me see what it entails

C) No way, I'm at my limit

Q4: If someone is late how do you feel:

A) It's ok, more time to do something else or even nothing for a wee while

B) I would rather have known so I didn't have to rush around

C) Unacceptable, I do not have enough time as it is

Q5: When something doesn't go to plan, how do you feel:

A) Interesting, what did I learn?

B) Well that was a waste of time

C) Life is hard.

Count your points and refer to the score bandings here:-

A = 1 point

B = 2 points

C = 3 points

If you scored 1 - 8

You are rocking it ! You are probably feeling like you have a good handle on the balance in your life. You could have some mind space for a big project/dream to be worked on.

Have a think: “What would I do if I knew I couldn't fail?”

If you scored 9 - 12

You are a star! But maybe you are feeling borderline bored and ready for a boost of excitement?

Have a think: “If I was 100 per cent confident, what would I love to do?”

If you scored 13 - 15

You are fabulous! However, you could be close to feeling overwhelmed, so prioritising the things that matter to you will help. You probably feel like everything is a priority – which means nothing is.

Try this: Arrange a piece of paper landscape and write two lines down the middle so you have three columns.

Write stop in one column, start in the next and continue in the last one.

Now think of the things you could stop, start, and continue doing.

Find out more about Lisa's Mindset Breakthrough Event on Saturday May 4 at The Mercure Hotel, York, online at:

Special offer: Half-price tickets are available until midnight March 17. A percentage of profits from the event will go to York Mind.