The Stress Epidemic

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

It has been a very busy time here at and I have not been able to write as much as I would like. I would like to write about the horrific events in Connecticut and about how proud I am that our Governor has made a risky political statement that it is time to do something about guns in Colorado. I am especially proud because he made this statement before the most recent shooting.I would like to write about the holiday season and what that means to me and to all of you.

I would like to write about missing family and the adventures of raising a quirky teenage pup.

But lately, I have been stressed. Work has been incredibly intense and taken most of my time and energy.

I love my work, but I can’t say I love those times when it is all-consuming. Over the years, I have been inexplicably drawn to fast-paced jobs with high levels of stress; I am drawn to these types of jobs like a moth to a flame.

I have tried to figure out how I can do work that I love, while not allowing it to eat me alive. I am encouraged that the older I get, the more I seem to be able to go with the flow and bounce back from stressful situations – this is a welcome evolution, to say the least.

I read an article this morning from the Harvard Business Journal that talks about how to manage stress in your work. I read a lot of these articles and always find some useful message or lesson to take away.

Copyright JC Politi Photography

Copyright JC Politi Photography

But I wonder how real people manage the stress in their lives. And about your personal evolutions in this area. And what lessons my wise readers have for me in how to better manage the stressful work that I love.

Stress is an epidemic in the United States. Is it also an epidemic in other countries? If not, why not?

I went to a class on stress at work last year where they showed the physiological impact of stress on a person’s heart and mind. It was scary stuff. It is not a luxury to find ways to manage stress. It is imperative that we do so.

What do you think? How do you manage stress in your life? Has your ability to manage stress changed over the years? What have you found to be the most helpful tools to help with this? Do you struggle with this at all? And do you have any resources you have found to be helpful in your efforts to maintain balance and calm in your life that you would be willing to share?

I would love to hear your thoughts. Thank you for reading!


Filed under Business, Career Planning, Colorado, Culture, Peace, Policy, Politcs, Role of Government, social pressures

46 responses to “The Stress Epidemic

  1. ‘Sorry to hear about your situation, Jen. I don’t have the answer, but don’t you usually take a morning walk with your dog? That should help. Perhaps if you take a few minutes each day, especially when you are stressed out, and think about what you see on those walks, take deep breaths, and remind yourself that trivia really don’t matter: what matters are friends and loved ones. But whatever you do, know that there are those around you who care about you!

    • Thanks Hugh! That is really sweet. It’s not too bad, just hard to have energy right now for anything else. I am still fitting in shorter walks with the pup, but I haven’t taken a photo in weeks – I think that is probably the key for me. Just know that I will be back reading more consistently soon. My brain is just shutting down as soon as I leave work right now. It comes in waves and my husband and I will be backpacking in Patagonia in a few weeks, which is really the best medicine! With my camera!! Thanks again for all your sweet support! You’re the best!!

  2. you know, some of it is the nature of the times, my dear. we are going through a huge shift right now. you are not alone in how you feel. “it’s all been done”, as they say… and we are all struggling to find new meaning to this rat-race called life we have created for ourselves. meditation and yoga have been the only outlet to helping heal me personally. stress was the outward issue, but the underlying issues within are what i had to dig up and deal with. also, we are overstimulated and we don’t realize how much of other people’s “stuff” we absorb. visualize taking off a hat with all of your work “issues” on it, and hanging it OUTSIDE Of your front door before you enter after coming home from work – or removing a metaphorical “cloak” that has the issues with it – things like that, literally DO THE MOTIONS and tell yourself to “check it at the door” — does that make sense? our brains are way more powerful than we realize and with consistency, you can create new patterns in life that offer peace. i know this because i’ve done it and it WORKS! and, as simple as it sounds – don’t forget to BREATHE! — thanks for reading my ramble 🙂

    • I love that idea! That is just what I am looking for – practical advice. Even a few deep breaths to reset the pace when I leave work would probably do wonders. Thanks so much for the ramble – I love rambles here!!! 🙂

      • you’ll always get practical, loving advice from this capricorn moon 😉 i swear i could write a book on this stuff – i have a lot of life experience for someone my age. visualization is a power we don’t tap into enough, i feel. let me know how it works for you! one other tip, i’m a HUGE proponent for warm epsom salt baths. the magnesium is a natural muscle relaxer and it also opens the pores, releasing any toxins – which is basically pent up stress. you can do it!

      • oh and breathing really does wonders. do you know how much stuff has to occur within your body just for you to take a breath? it’s fascinating. and when we breathe, we take the focus off the mind and put it into the body… INSTANT GRATIFICATION! 🙂

  3. Stress was infiltrating my life a few years back, and I had to make changes or I knew both me and my family would suffer. Sometimes it isn’t possible to change the big things, so we have to search other avenues of change. One thing is for sure–too much stress harms. Good luck with mastering yours.

  4. There is a book entitled `The Mindful way through Depression` `freeing yourself from chronic unhappiness`The only thing I don`t like about the book is the title! The liklihood of someone not suffering from depression picking this book up is small and yet it holds the answers to pretty well all of your questions focusing especially on *balance*. Through this book one learns how to stand back, relax, enjoy the moment, learn how to recognise things before they happen, tune into the inner self; which allows for so much control on stress. It is written by 3 doctors of psychology and includes a CD of guided meditation by a foremost leader in the field, Jon Kabat-Zinn.
    I hope you will consider this gift to yourself. It will actually change your world in a weird and wonderful way. Colours will no longer just have one name.
    My best to you.

    • Oooh, thank you for the suggestion. That sounds wonderful. I think remembering to be mindful is one of the keys – it is so easy to get swept up in the hectic pace and running from place to place. Thanks so much for the advice!! And for reading!

  5. Maybe it’s just that end of year stress bug, Jen. I hope you can take a few days off to be kind to yourself.

  6. I’m guessing you’ve learnt all you need to know about the causes of stress and also about how to relax, but that still doesn’t help if you find yourself in work that you enjoy but which needs you to put in excessive hours in order to achieve the things, usually on behalf of others, that you set out to achieve. Teaching, for example, can be a supremely fulfilling career, but teachers usually find they have too little time built into their day for planning, preparation and marking, and therefore end up working lots of ‘extra’ hours at home when they should be socialising, walking, exercising, meditating, reading for pleasure, going to movies, concerts and the theatre, listening to music, doing yoga, engaging with their personal creativity and sleeping!

    Burn-out in public service jobs is very common, and it’s time our societies thought again about how we treat our public servants, and the fact that we expect far too much of them without thinking very much at all about their long-term health and wellbeing. Better pay would be a good thing, but ultimately time is far more valuable than money, and we’re time-poor in our rat-race societies. Much the same can be said about the professions and most businesses – the pressure to do too much within too little time is often enormous, thanks to the lack of care of senior managers and directors. But even those who work for themselves and run their own businesses find they pressurise themselves into working far too hard and for too many hours. People who are competitive and personally ambitious by nature tend to have an even bigger problem with this.

    One thing I’ve come to appreciate is that our children, grandchildren and close friends won’t thank us if we manage to work ourselves into a state of burn out or an early grave. We need to do a lot more thinking about our value systems right across our societies, and there are signs that this may be beginning on a significant scale. We certainly need to make basic survival less difficult for the majority who simply can’t get by with a reduced income if they work fewer hours.

    • So true. I am not working terribly long hours, just interested hours. But you are so right. I do know what I have to do, I just have to make time for it. I think exercise and photography are real keys for me. Tanks for the comment… And the therapy! 🙂

  7. A very good question. One that I don’t have an answer to. When I’m not at the top of my game, I become anxious and second guess everything so then I’m dealing with actual and imagined stress!

  8. The best stress buster for me is taking extremely good care of myself – healthy diet, plenty of sleep, and Yoga. That is my recipe for peace…and it works like a champ.

  9. Thanks, Karen. It is so good to choose a different path once in a while. But it can be hard to get back into to that peaceful state when you go back to the stress machine. Thanks so much for the thoughtful comment! Keep up that peaceful practice. It is priceless!!

  10. I wish I had something to offer up by way of suggestion. I’m experiencing similar issues, as a matter of fact it’s the topic of my next scheduled post. right now I am seeking the same answers. Wishing you luck as you try to find ways to unwind.

  11. I have actually been thinking about asking to work less hours and to let one our prn people fill in. My boss would think I am crazy but likely already does. 8) I probably will not do that, but I need to figure out something. I guess we are always searching how to get things in the right balance. Good Luck

  12. Jenni, one of the best lessons I learned was from of all people, a communication consultant. He said “We are too connected through technology; we are truly never off work.” His strong suggestion, which I adopted, is to disconnect. That is the true way to salvation. When I have had colleagues tell me they have to check email before the go to bed, I tell them that does not impress me. If you must work at home, compartmentalize it, then it shut it down. All of this comes from someone who has always had stressful jobs dealing with clients and staff. In some respects, Scarlett O’Hara had it right, “I will just worry about that tomorrow.” If something is bothering you, take action by writing a note to yourself or sending yourself an email or voicemail, then you can go to sleep. That is two cents from an Old Fart. Take care of you as you’re a pretty cool person, BTG

    • Love that advice. I have a shut off time for all technology other than the Kindle of 9pm, which seems to work well. You’re right – if I look at a computer screen or my phone right before bed, that is what stays in my mind over night, which is never good. Thanks for the great advice and the kind words! 🙂

  13. Jen, really sorry you’re going through this. It’s not dissimilar to my own job experiences. BTG’s advice is sound. In a similar vein, the only real way to manage stress is to set boundaries. People will always try and find ways to fill “capacity” or to create capacity. It may be that you can still have what you are looking for from your job without having it take over your life. One of the best examples I had of this was in a recent business meeting, where we were on a time critical deal. When one the key people said they couldn’t make a rescheduled meeting, she was asked why. She said she had a pillates class to attend to. There were then attempts to make her feel guilty about that and get her to change her plans. Her response? if she did that, she would never, ever go to a single pillates class. The honesty stopped all the griping in its tracks and the meeting went ahead anyway without her. Make appointments with yourself and don’t break them. You are just as important, if not more so than the work that you do.

    • What a GREAT story!! I love that! I am actually doing pretty well with setting boundaries – I could work all night and all weekend if I chose to – but I know that lots of us have stressful jobs and I was wondering what people do to manage it. Thanks for the comment! Sorry I have been a little MIA. Looking forward to catching back up again soon!!

  14. Roxy Fearless

    Years ago I remember watching a colleague manage though a very stressful time. She is very religious and I know her faith gave her strong grounding. I took pause at that, at the time feeling very ungrounded myself. But then she said something once, when her load became much greater, she said simply, “One thing at a time. One thing at a time.”. I’ve always remembered the simplicity and the reality of that. And now that helps me put my load in perspective. We can only do our best, one thing at a time. (miss you!)

    • Roxy Fearless!!! Hellooooo!!! Spending time with you makes my stress melt away, I know that for sure. One thing at a time is great – but do we ever get to do just one thing at a time? Maybe that is part of my problem – I am usually doing at least three things at a time which means it is hard to do any of those things well. Thanks for the advice. I’m going to remember that. Have a great Christmas with all those boys, my friend. Miss you lots!!

  15. Stress is everywhere … we get stressed of many reason .. so I’m sure that even people in the less developed countries also have their moments of stress. I have always got stressed over small details … but when it comes to the big things I became calm and very self-contained – always think best under stress and I always did a much better job, when the pressure was on.
    But I could flip my lid .. for the smallest annoying things. Stress come from worries and there is loads of that around us.

    • It’s funny that you say that – I am kind of that way too. I find myself calm when people are freaking out around me, but the little things can make me super irritated when I am wound up. Glad to hear I am not carzy – or at least that we are crazy together! 😉 Thanks for the comment!

  16. I take long walks in State Parks, I find having a seat along a body of water is detoxifying of whatever stress that may have accumulated. Great read!

  17. I feel that the epidemic is one of Distress… opposed to stress. I have found two things to be incredibly vital to my ability to alleviate distress. The first is I force (although it is just natural now) myself to just BE for at least one hour everyday…whether it is through meditation, a walk, sitting by the water, etc. The second thing is a constant reminder to myself of the story of the tortoise and the hare…..slow and steady wins the race, fast and quick leads to running out of gas. As always, love your blog! Keep on going.

  18. I hope you are feeling better. Stress is often caused by trying to do too much. I keep lists of the things I have to do, so that when I accomplish something, however small, I can cross it off and move on to the next thing. By focusing on the concrete, I am able to keep moving forward without getting bogged down by the emotional weight of it all. Best wishes!

  19. I find that making an appointment with myself once a week helps immensely and it doesn’t mean running errands, I only do those activities that make me feel good.

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