Tips to Reduce Stress and Negativity from Your Life

FUTURE SHOCK… the shattering stress and disorientation that we induce in individuals by subjecting them to too much change in to short of a time.
- Alvin Toffler, 1970

Let's start with the conclusion. The odds are that you will never deal directly with the root cause of stress in your life. You view your success in life as the result, in part, of the extraordinary commitment you have made to improve yourself, to provide for your family, to get ahead.

As a result, you expect life to be a pressure cooker. That of course doesn't mean that you deal with life's daily indignities in any effective way. In fact, you don't consciously deal with the situation at all. You let your body’s survival system, hardwired physiological changes designed to deal with imminent physical danger, bear the brunt of your psychological stress.

When your flight is 3 hours late, or you have a disagreement with your boss, or the line at the cash machine just doesn't move, you react in much the same way that your caveman ancestor did when facing a woolly mammoth - you exhibit a classic fight-or-flight response:

  1. Your blood pressure goes up and your heart rate increases, and your digestive system goes on hold;

  2. Your pupils dilate so that you can see better;

  3. Your body is flooded with extra energy and your blood sugar level goes up;

  4. Your breathing quickens and the blood flow to the brain increases - both help you think more clearly;

  5. There is even a small change in the chemistry of the blood which would help it clot more quickly in the event of bodily injury.

Countless “all-nighters” have taught you just how powerful these natural mechanisms are. How many times have you finished a project and marveled at how well you withstood an incredible array of demands and pressures?

The problem? The body's system was designed to deal with physical, not psychological, threats. As the age of future shock descends on us today, our fight-or-flight system becomes overloaded and we begin to do physical harm to ourselves.

If you need to know only one statistic about stress, consider the following: 14% of the people who were considered “highly stressed” at age 25 where dead by age 50… only 2% of those considered “low stress” at 25 were dead at 50. What we have created is a society whose achievers are encouraged to commit slow suicide.

If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.
- Eubie Blake at age 100

What more do we need to do to scare you? Recent studies have shown that stress can damage brain cells, accelerate aging in rats, and cause ulcers and migraines. Stress us even been shown to quicken the pace of hair loss. A normal hair growth pattern last 2 to 5 years. Tension ups the production of adrenaline and testosterone, speeding up the cycle and causing hair to fall out faster.

One recent study showed that major life changes such as a death in the family, divorce, losing a job, and moving are often followed by major illnesses. The finding? Stress somehow weakens the body's immune system, leaving us vulnerable to disease. Another study indicated that mental stress can cause episodes of blood shortage to the heart muscle, leading to catastrophic heart attacks.

The fast track is good… unless it becomes a treadmill. This is especially true for middle managers, whose jobs are typically high in demand and low in control. They have borne the brunt of America's much-needed corporate downsizing and restructuring and suffer from constant work overload, fear of job loss, lack of say about there their employment destiny, and superiors who offer a little support.