How Stress Hardy Are You?

Constantly snowed under at work? Behind the eight ball as bills pile up? When faced with stress, most of us cope in the best way we know how. Usually that means relying on street sense—the resources we learn from life along with our perspective of the situation. But sometimes that’s not enough to stress proof our lives, especially if we have a checkered stress history. Are you still mopping up from your last stress hit?

By answering yes or no to each of the following questions, the quiz shows whether you’re glass, plastic, or steel when facing stress. 

___1. Do you often seek approval from others through people pleasing?

___2. Are you resistant to change?

___3.  Do you judge yourself harshly?

___4. Would you trade your life for someone else’s?

___5. Do you spend a lot of time getting upset or angry over things you can’t control?

___6. Are you afraid to let other people get close to you?

___7. Do you waffle or fold under pressure?

___8. Do you feel incomplete or need someone or something to complete you?

___9. Do you usually put your needs behind those of others?

___10. Are you someone who questions your ability to do things?

___11. Do you feel worthy of other people’s love?

___12. Can you turn a bad situation into a good one most of the time?

___13. Are you able to look on the bright side instead of the dark side in most situations?

___14. When you’re alone, do you enjoy your own company?

___15. Are you open to new ideas when it comes to different ways of doing things?

___16. Do you expect the best out of most situations?

___17. Do you believe in yourself?

___18. Do you tend to praise yourself or give yourself atta-girls or atta-boys?

___19. Is it easy for you to express your true feelings?

___20. Are you open-minded?

Calculate Your Score

Start with 60 points. Subtract 2 points for each yes answer and add 2 points for each no answer to questions 1 through 10. Subtract 2 points for each no answer and add 2 points for each yes answer to questions 11 through 20. The higher your score, the more stress hardy you are.

If your score is:

90-100: You’re steel. Stress bounces off you.

70-89: You’re plastic with some stress dents but with some stress-hardy traits to build on.

Below 69: You’re glass, at risk of being shattered by stress.

Buff Up Stress Hardiness With The Three C’s

Studies show that stress hardy people have three outstanding traits. If you scored in the direction of plastic or glass, here are some tips to develop those traits and buff up more steel:

Control. See yourself being a cause instead of an effect in your life. Be the master of your fate, bearing responsibility for what happens and responding more positively to situations beyond your control. Ask yourself what stressors you can control, focus on those, and let the rest go. Find ways around stressful obstacles instead of falling victim to them.

Challenge. Treat adversity as a challenge instead of a threat and try to find something in the stressful event that you can learn and grow from. Look for opportunities to overcome pressures instead of ways to deny or avoid them. Expose yourself to small challenges that hone skills for the bigger ones that are sure to come. Welcome situations that offer a chance to improve and turn negatives into positives.

Commitment. Commit yourself to something bigger than you. Let curiosity about life move you outward into new, uncharted territory instead of inward into retreat. When you have supporters on your side, it gives you the “social capital” to jump-start your motivation. Align with others and allow your shared struggles to toughen you and offer a greater cause to your efforts. Your commitment to others, to the common good, and to team spirit dwarfs your own concerns. If you get discouraged and feel like giving up, knowing others are counting on you anchors your spirit and keeps it alive.

Studies show that when people take charge of their lives, embrace challenges, and bond with others, they are less likely to crumble under pressure. Accept your personal limitations while nudging yourself to stick your neck out to try new things. But don’t force yourself to become someone you’re not. And make sure to dispense large doses of self-compassion—pep talks, atta-girls or atta-boys, and plenty of rewards—along the way to your goals.


  • Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Journalist, psychotherapist, and Author of 40 books.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D.

    Bryan Robinson, Ph.D. is a professor emeritus at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, psychotherapist in private practice, and award-winning author of two novels and 40 nonfiction books that have been translated into 15 languages. His latest books are CHAINED TO THE DESK IN A HYBRID WORLD: A GUIDE TO WORK-LIFE BALANCE (New York University Press, 2023)#CHILL: TURN OFF YOUR JOB AND TURN ON YOUR LIFE (William Morrow, 2019), DAILY WRITING RESILIENCE: 365 MEDITATIONS & INSPIRATIONS FOR WRITERS (Llewellyn Worldwide, 2018). He is a regular contributor to, Psychology Today, and Thrive Global. He has appeared on 20/20, Good Morning America, The CBS Early Show, ABC's World News Tonight, NPR’s Marketplace, NBC Nightly News and he hosted the PBS documentary "Overdoing It: How To Slow Down And Take Care Of Yourself." website: