I was in a meeting the other day when someone who is quite together and very experienced began to speak of stress and its effect on our performance. I was caught off-guard. We all live with stress. It’s persistent and powerful among the people I know.

Hardly a day goes by that I don’t hear some reference to feeling stressed. I don’t know if I trust the surveys about high stress positions, not because they’re inaccurate but because I hear so many people refer to feeling stressed that I can’t imagine which jobs have more, or less. Everyone, it seems is stressed in some way and it’s difficult to quantify which stress is more destructive than another.

In Googling “managing stress” I came first to an article by Christine Gorman in TIME that is one of the most helpful pieces I’ve read recently. I refer to Christine in this blog because she writes about health issues, so frequent readers will know her name. But in this instance her article popped up from the search engine and not as a result of me targetting her name.

Christine’s six lessons for handling stress are eye-opening. Her description of what we do under stress made me feel like she’s been watching me with an invisible camera. We come home, plop in front of the TV, eat poorly, and collapse. All the wrong things to do. But the article cites research that confirms too many of do the same when we’re stressed.

Additional stress occurs with the breakdown between work and our personal time. The always-available text messaging, emailing cellphone is but one example. And working from home further blurrs the distinction between home life and work life.

There are physiological and emotional results, none of them especially pretty. Christine writes, “stress, depression and job burnout are now the U.S.’s fastest-growing disability category.”

So, I hope you’re not feeling stressed as you read this, but if you are, do as Christine says, “take a deep breath.” And I suggest you hop over to the link and see what else you might do to turn it around. Apparently, a lot of us owe it to ourselves to become more aware of how we’re making ourselves worse, not better, because don’t handle stress well.

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