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Cost of Stress

We lose over $300 billion a year in productivity due to stress. What we lose in quality of life is much harder to put a figure to.

We don’t know what we are missing in terms of lost opportunity costs. A work team that is burnt out is not likely to be the first to jump on a new opportunity or create one. A family who is stressed out that takes a vacation is likely to neither renew themselves nor fully allow themselves to enjoy their time together.

The stress response, as a survival mechanism, is a reactive response. Even chronic stress puts you in a place where you are reacting and not creating. If you just worked your second 60-hour week and your son has a soccer tournament through the weekend, do you think you will be fully present for it? Or maybe you and your partner are attempting to find the time to sit down and design your new house. You finally find the time, but you are exhausted – how creative will you be? How much fun will it be?

Stress tends to put you in a mode where you are attempting to just keep up and not mess up. You are more likely to be planning from a position of covering your butt versus creating what could be the next breakthrough.

Some Solutions

Don’t buy into stress . I am not saying deny it. You need to acknowledge it and its effect on you. However, you don’t need to accept a life ruled by stress. Often, you may find yourself in an environment where there is an assumption that this is the way we do it, a place where stress rules.

Stop focusing on what you don’t wantfocus on what you do want . When you learn to ride a motorcycle, one of the first things you are taught is not to look where you don’t want to go, but look where you want to go. Your bike will follow your eyes. Your behavior follows your focus. If your main concern is simply survival, you will do just that. As your focus shifts to generating a full spectrum of success, your survival and your stress around it may handle itself.

Make a commitment to your health and success . Use the information and resources in www.stressedout.org to break out of the state you are in with stress. Being more productive is being less stressed. France is known as a laid back country. Not only do they drink their wine, they also have one of the shortest work weeks in all of the developed world. Yet, they are one of the most productive, more productive than the United States.

A huge step occurs when you set boundaries that yourself and others respect. Start saying “no” to what takes energy from you and “yes” to what gives you energy. Make a conscious decision about the long hours of work; don’t just do it because everyone else does it. Are you willing to work those long hours to be promoted? Is being the manager what your really want? Ask your head, and ask your heart.

Just as a cost in business needs to be balanced against income, so does stress needs to be balance by receiving rejuvenation. After your long and hard two weeks, your mind and body needs time to renew. It might mean vegging-out for the weekend or going fishing. Balance your expenditures with your rejuvenation.

Take the long view . I once had someone tell me that as he matured he would ask himself: When I am an old man sitting on my rocker on the porch – would I be glad I chose a particular decision?

Reducing stress is not reducing risk taking. It may be taking a different kind of risk. Take risks that allow you to be different and invest energy in areas that will produce long term gains in health, wealth and happiness.

Owen Marcus is our local Rolfer and a producer of www.StressedOut.org .

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