Killing You Not-So-Softly: Stress.

By Haley Melikian | December 17, 2012

Stress is the worst. Even the people who claim to thrive under its weight are not immune to the side-effects which this chart outlines adorably with balloons as not to stress you out even more than you probably already are.

Everyone I know, myself included, is hyper-conscious of their stress level at all times. When I’m stressed out, I can’t help but think about how stressed out I am. It’s completely overwhelming which reduces productivity which, in turn, makes me feel more stressed. Aside from the physical effects brought on by a consistently high stress level, (click here to get down and dirty with the hows and whys of the physiology behind that grim phenomenon) we have to deal with the mental and emotional repercussions that make it near impossible to behave like a normal human. It’s a vicious cycle that seems impossible to break free from looking at the facts presented here. These stats show that work is mostly the blame for our collective stress levels whether you have a job or not, but I wonder if, given the society we live in, the main factors that cause this constantly looming cloud of angst aren’t mainly internal. Pressure and ambition can debilitate us as surely as they can motivate us.

I held a job for over three years that was so intensely stressful that I found it near impossible to get a full night’s sleep toward the end, so I decided to quit with no prospects. I wanted at least two months of decompression before setting foot in another office. What I found in those two months as I wandered some of the most gorgeous beaches Hawaii has to offer is that I still felt stress sort of nagging at me every time I began to enjoy myself. Like I should be doing something more productive and worrying that I had derailed my career. I hadn’t, of course, but we are so engrained to believe that we need to be working all the time that we feel guilty when we’re not. What kind of BS is that?! The worst kind. The self-defeating kind.

Of course, not all stress has the same effect on your heart as eating a lifetime supply of bacon in one sitting. As we wrote about in detail here, a moderate amount of stress is really good for you. It keeps you on your toes mentally and helps prevent you from having a Britney-level breakdown over a small miscommunication or iMessage being down. A quick Google search will provide you with endless tips on how to manage stress, and by all means, employ some of them, but seeing as how your 10 days off per year probably wont be spent meditating, maybe just try to put a bit less pressure on yourself the other 355 days per year. Remind yourself that you’re not curing cancer (unless of course you are curing cancer and if so WHY ARE YOU READING THIS you have more important things to tend to.) and allow yourself some flexibility. That’s not always an option, but when it is, take it.

If you have any tips on how to deal with stress, we’re all ears. Leave it in the comments section below.

One comment on “Killing You Not-So-Softly: Stress.”

  1. TrouserBrowser says:

    The Greenland Inuit people (Europe’s version of Alaskan eskimos) sustained themselves on a diet consisting of mostly whale blubber and meat. That diet would make any westernized person croak within a year from a solidified fat coagulated heart, but these Inuit lived long healthy lives with almost ZERO occurrence of heart disease.

    The explanation? All the health food, all the exercise, all the “entertainment”, all the recreation drugs, etc can’t make up for a stress free life where sustenance and raising your progeny are your only concern.

    It seems that stress is the killer, and the only way around it is building an igloo.

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