List of Life Events Categorized According to Their Stressfulness.

list of stressful life events

stressful life events

If we have experienced significant childhood trauma, research shows that our ability to cope with stress can, as a result, become severely reduced in adult life (click here to read one of my articles about this). We may well find, then, that we are particularly affected by some of the life events listed below in this article.

Any major change in our lives can produce stress (even positive changes like getting married). The more an event challenges our ability to cope with it, the more stress it is likely to produce.

A list of various life events which can give rise to stress is given below. Over any given period of time, the more of these events we experience, and the higher their combined rating, the more stress they are likely to produce.

It is also worth noting that it is not just the occurrence of a stressful event per se which produces feeling of stress in us (both physical and emotional), but also how significant we perceive the event to be. Other facors which contribute to how stressful we find particular events include their predictability, their familiarity, their unavoidability and their intensity.

The list below is far from set in stone as the subjective experience people have of the events, and the events themselves, vary widely from case to case. The following should, therefore, be seen as a rough guide :



– death of husband/wife/life-partner

– death of close family member

– divorce/separation from long-term partner

– jail sentence

– marriage

– significant personal injury or illness

– loss of job


– retirement

– serious illness of family member

– death of close friend

– money problems

– new child

– pregnancy

– change of job

– sex difficulties


– change in living conditions

– change in work responsibilities

– son or daughter leaving home

– difficulties with in-laws

– outstanding personal achievement

– difficulties with boss at work

– revision of personal habits

– large mortgage or loan

– legal action over debt

– starting or finishing school

– partner begins or stops working

– family arguments


– change in social activities

– Christmas

– holidays

– minor violations of the law

– change in eating habits

– change in sleeping habits

– change in work hours

– change in recreational activities

In my next post, to be published very shortly, I will examine some of our physical responses to stress and how we can deal with these.

David Hosier BSc Hons ; MSc ; PGDE (FAHE).

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About David Hosier MSc

Holder of MSc and post graduate teaching diploma in psychology. Highly experienced in education. Founder of Survivor of severe childhood trauma.

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