Life Change Units

Transcript of the Feature Health Matters on Radio X  from 18 November 2013

I’m Tom Meyers, Stress Coach and welcome to episode 10 of Health Matters.  Where I take a closer look at the S word that has become one of the biggest challenges to our health and wellbeing Stress.

Today I like to share with you how ‘life changes and events’ influences your health. Did you know that positive and negative life changes and events can make you more susceptible to illness and accidents?

To that conclusion came psychologists Rahe and Holmes after a thorough study in the 1960. This research lead  to the Life change units scale.

When I learned about its existence in a psychology class it was a true aha moment.

Several patients had come to my practice with non trauma related neck, shoulder or back pain. Most of them said: “they’ve just woken up with it”.

What was so particular that many of these patients had only been living in Brussels 3 tot 4 months.

As I observed this pattern I started to ask patients when they had moved to Brussels and bingo each time close to 3 to 4 months. But what was the relationship with the physical condition of being physically stuck?

The Life Change Units scale gave me the insight.

So what changes have you gone through when you decided to go for that job opportunity in Belgium and thus decide to move here. For months you have prepared it, made possibly a few trips for job interviews and to find an apartment. Maybe you’ve been commuting leaving your family and kids behind before finally bringing them over. Now settled leaving family and friends behind you need to look for a new social network and adapt to a new language. Work is new, and you need to get to know the colleagues. You probably got a salary increase and more responsibility. I think you get the picture as you’ve probably been there.

How did you experience this period? As stressful?

What Holmes and Rahe have done is to give a score to all these life changes. They calculated that if you have more then 300 points on the Life Change Units scale the risk of illness or injury is increased by 70% In above example when scored you have more then 300 points in a couple of months.

The bottom line is that change activates the stress response and and that makes you tense. Chronic muscle tension can cause pressure on nerves and can even pul bony structures out of alignment. Auch that hurts and help is needed.

The stress response doesn’t only have an influence on muscles it also weakens your immunity so some people get severe colds or flue others stomach upsets or become anxious or suffer from depression. Marital problems are also possible or accidents, bad falls through reduced attention or concentration …

Change is sometimes inevitable. However slow down and take enough time to relax, relieve and restore to give your body the needed rest. Get a professional massage or other forms of body-work like stress coaching for body and mind and practice a mindful breathing exercise.

On the Health Matters section the website I’ll put a link to the Life Change Units Scale and you can see how much at risk you are. And if you have more then 300 points over the last years or worse the last 6 months maybe you like to consider an appointment for some Stress Coaching for Body and Mind for more information visit

I’m Tom Meyers stress coach and contributor of thought to a more joyful and healthy way of living.

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