Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Stress Conundrum!

The recent APA "Stress Survey" told us what we already know:
-Roughly 75% of people accept stress as a fact of life, it can make you sick, and they are aware of strategies they can incorporate into their lives that will help them manage stress.
-An equal number experienced mental and physical symptoms in the last month as a result of stress.
-Most people attack stress with negative behaviors like smoking,drinking, or eating and sedentary reading or listening to music, although healthier, do not utilize the body's ability to burn off stress.
-The desire to "feel better" is the number one motivator for people to change, yet only 1/3 said they would "probably" change if confronted with a chronic condition as result of stress.
See for summary of the study.
Basically, what we have here is the number one contributor to people's health outcome being totally understood and recognized, but people are not willing to modify behavior, which takes effort and perseverance, to reduce and manage their stress to cure or prevent these inevitable problems from occurring.
Why is this? Probably because behavior change is so hard to do and bad behaviors are so easy, available, and relatively cheap. They help you escape and "feel good" temporarily. Exercising, eating right, and practising cognitive change and relaxation exercises takes too much time, effort, and has a delayed gratification effect. The "magic pill" does not exist and never will.
IBM just announced they will pay $150 to each of their 128,000 employees who sign up a child to take a 12 week on-line exercise/diet course. This is a "pain avoidance" strategy since they can save hundreds of millions in health insurance claims if these people change their behavior.
The future lies with the people who can make the tough transition to a regular stress management regimen. They will not only feel better, but will look better, and their bodies will last longer and function better.
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Monday, October 22, 2007

Financial Stress

The recent purge of sub-prime mortgages have left many in uncompromising positions were they can't afford their payments and are losing their houses or condos. The horror of losing your home you have worked so hard for and not knowing where you can live has to be the most devastating feeling in the world.
The aftermath of credit issues and potential bankruptcy continue to fuel anxiety and dread. Couple this with falling house prices have left people "upside down" on their mortgages wiping out their savings and leaving no financial security for the future.
What in the world can you do to relieve this constant pressure and embarrassment? As always, the regular four stool stress management approach is a steady stress reliever assuming you keep up the routine...exercise, eat right, mind/body relaxation exercises, and cognitive "re-thinking". Friends and neighbors are a big plus as you go through the wake of destruction. Local non-profit credit agencies can also help you sort out your finances and get you back on track. Believe it or not, try your local banker for guidance since the last thing they want is to take back your house and sell it on the court house steps.
Many of the fears are unfounded and a solid dose of reality thinking will help you calm down and adjust. Go to reliable sources for facts. Ask questions. Read as much as you can and find other people in the same situation and talk with them about what they are doing.
Many of these problems were created by greeding lenders trying to put people into loans they should have never assumed. Some are just bad mistakes by individuals stretching their finances to buy above their head. Whatever the reason, the stressful condition will still exist. The quicker you get out of the obligation and get back to a conservative financial position, the quicker you will start to feel more in control and have less stress.
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