October 7, 2007

Understanding Stress: The "Epidemic of the Eighties?"

According to the American Institute of Stress, Time magazine did a feature article on stress in 1983. The article stated that stress was considered the leading health problem of the time and dubbed it the "Epidemic of the Eighties."

Gee, have we come a long way, baby...and not in a good way. In 1983, 55% of people reported feeling stressed at least one time per week. By 1996 this number had increased to 75%. Researchers currently estimate this percentage to be around 90%. So what is causing all this stress in our lives?

Job stress is the number factor behind adult stress. As a career coach, I can certainly regale you with stories of job distress, so this one comes as no surprise. However, the largest increases in stress have come from children, teens and college students. It is surmised that these increases are coming from increased crime, violence, peer pressure, isolation, lonliness and a breakdown in values, family or social support.

Well, now that we all feel more stressed about stress, how can we possibly help overcome the "epidemic." Through my coaching work I have found that one of the most powerful tools in our arsenal is laughter. I did a blog entry a few months ago on laughter yoga with John Cleese where we first introduced the concept. However, since then, CNN has reported on the phenomenon. Try laughing at least 2-3 times a day to see how your stress levels can go down, too! LOL!!

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