Dec 11th, 1993. I had been in the pharmacy for something else but spotted card headed 'STRESS METER'. It suggested that if my aggregate stressors added up to less than 200, I was average. Well... View large

Dear Sir,

I have before me your 'Stress Meter' stress management leaflet.

Unfortunately, as far as stress goes, I fear it is more a cause than a cure.

The bit that is giving me all the concern is the table on the back where it asks you to add up your 'Life Event Score' for the last 12 months and advises that if you are above 200 then your stress level is above average.

Conversely this implies that 200 or below is at best merely 'average'.

A quick back and forth on the abacus tells me that I could be fired, serve a jail term, get someone pregnant, move house (twice), pick up a speeding ticket and still be only average.

Don't believe me? Try another scenario: I could get divorced, suffer a major personal injury, hit the turps, have an ongoing row with the boss and still have room for a few minor law infringements before the needle enters the red.

All in all it makes me feel like an under achiever.

Just reading your leaflet should be good for a dozen or so points on the Life Event Score.

Yours under sedation,

J. Cosmo Newbery.

REPLY: The reply came from Leone Coper, and said:

I agree with your comments. We did not write this card - it was part of the Healthy State program - and have now discontinued it. Stress experts now take much more notice of 'little hassles' rather than the 'big events' listed on the card to assess stress levels.

If you are still feeling stressed - pick up a copy of the Relaxation Techniques Fact Card and try some of the suggestions.

Remember that you shouldn't take the sedative for more than 2-4 weeks.