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A True Epidemic – Stress

by Mitzi Taylor

Would you believe Time Magazine’s June 6, 1983 cover story called stress “The Epidemic of the Eighties?” ‘80’s?! I think we can all agree this epidemic has ballooned into a billion dollar industry not only for healthcare but for business as well. One source indicated that in terms of lost hours due to absenteeism, reduced productivity, worker’s compensation and accidents, stress in the workplace costs business more than $300 billion annually (HR.com, 2001). That is a lot of people who are not handling their stress!

Stress is different things to different people. Webster’s defines stress as: a physical, chemical, or emotional factor that causes bodily or mental tension and may be a factor in disease causation. In a quick NSBT office poll, WE would define (more clearly I might add) stress as: holidays, family, waiting (for anything!), money, deadlines, doing more with less, building a house, crying, anger, the economy, traveling, blind dates, having a baby, vacations, new business………

You will notice, stress is not always bad. There is good stress.  But even with good stress, we need to learn how to cope. Even though we cannot help but be aware that unmanaged stress can cause bad things to happen to our body like cardiovascular disease, high blood pressure, hardening of the arteries, heart attack, ulcers, asthma, cancer, etc., we do not seem to be able to be proactive in handling our stress. Let me give you a nudge, if you don’t want the BAD things above to happen to YOU, you better get a grip on the fact that you WILL have stress in your life. You need to learn how to manage your stress.  Here are some ideas:

  • Determine where your chronic stress is coming from. Take a stress test.
  • Put the stressor in perspective. Can you control it? If not, change the way you react to it.
  • Communicate. No, you don’t have to Group Hug. Talking it out does help.
  • Prioritize.
  • Checklists (I even add things that I have already finished just to check it off!)
  • TIME MANAGEMENT. Learn to say “No”.
  • Take a problem-solving course. Make sure it is more of a behavioral geared course.
  • Agree to disagree. Walk in someone else’s shoes for a day. I will guarantee they will not be comfortable but you sure will learn a lot!

I know all of these things sound great. Reality and DOING is much more difficult. If you cannot do it alone, get some help. There are so many avenues to go in today’s world to get help with our stress, if you don’t choose to get help, we will just call you ………Epidemic.