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Been a little cranky lately? Can’t focus? Not sleeping well? Unable to resist the Double Chocolate Toffee Crunch stashed in the bottom of the freezer?
Fallout from the current financial meltdown has taken its toll on our wallets, our job security, and our peace of mind, but now there’s even more good news. A new survey of 300 married couples conducted by Professor Wayne Hockwarter at Florida State University’s College of Business has quantified just how stressed we are.
Over 70 percent of those surveyed said that the recession has “significantly increased the stress levels of employees in recent months.” Demands from management have increased, they say, including pressure to cut costs “on a weekly basis.” Over 80 percent said that they were “nervous about their long-term financial well-being.” Similar majorities have “significantly” cut their personal spending and say it’s unlikely they’ll retire when they had planned or with the nest egg they had anticipated having even a year ago.
As if the uncertainty and added demands weren’t enough, 40 percent of those surveyed report an increase in “incivility” in the workplace (backstabbing, brownnosing, and general chicanery) as those who are still employed jockey for position before the next volley of cuts.
In the face of such a dismal outlook, Dr. Mehmet Oz, renowned cardiologist and Oprah’s medical expert, reminds us that chronic stress takes a toll on our bodies. First, it makes us want to eat more (the way our distant ancestors responded to the chronic stress of famine). It also disrupts healthy sleep and raises blood pressure. Other studies suggest that stress interferes with our ability to concentrate and compromises our immune responses, making us more susceptible to illness.
And while none of this is news, maybe it’s a good time to take the advice Dr. Oz dishes out to himself: get better sleep, watch your diet, exercise regularly, reach out to friends. And his “quick fix stress reducer?” Deep-belly Yoga breathing. Frankly, Double Chocolate Toffee Crunch sounds more fun.
Want to discover your own stress level? Take this stress test adapted from an assessment tool developed in the 1990s by researchers M. A. Miller and Dr. Richard Rahe.
By Kate Convissor
“Families Are Feeling Stress of Economic Crisis, Researcher Finds.” Science Daily. 12 Mar. 2009. Florida State University. 27 Mar. 2009
Tjan, Tony. “Don’t Let the Finance Crisis Become a Health Crisis.” (Interview with Dr. Mehmet Oz) Harvard Business.org 17 Mar. 2009. Harvard Business Publishing. 27 Mar. 2009