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The Stress Epidemic

"Slow down,

and everything you are chasing

will come around and catch you."

– John DePaola

In the clinical sense, stress refers to ‘a situation that causes discomfort and distress for a person,’ and can lead to other mental health problems with physical repercussions. Stress is now considered a normal part of life, however studies show that 75% to 90% of all doctors visits are for stress-related issues. Stress has become a modern age epidemic.

Stress has a long list of effects on the body, including headaches, neck pain and back pain, muscle tension, insomnia and lack of proper sleep, digestive issues, frequent colds and infections, low energy, clenched jaw and grinding teeth, to name a few. The only ones reaping the rewards from stress are Big Pharma.

The biggest problem with stress is that we have been treating its symptoms – such as high blood pressure, stroke, heart disease, insomnia – instead of its cause.

Children are taking more pain medications than ever before; thirty-somethings are suffering with resurfacing acne and digestive issues, and a compromised immune system has become the norm, with a huge increase in older adults suffering with shingles, rheumatoid arthritis, and cardiovascular diseases – all said to be enhanced by stress.

The best remedy for stress is to set limits or boundaries, and find moments to take... a... breath… For some this may mean cooking, or gardening, taking a yoga class, or going out for a walk. We need to restructure our lives and learn to live among or below our financial means, declutter, learn to delegate and to say ‘no thank you’. It’s the realization that we need to simplify our lives now, before we’re paying the price through illness.•


In a 1974 article in the Harvard Business Review, entitled “Who’s Got The Monkey?” authors William Oncken Jr. and Donald L. Wass tell the tale of an overburdened manager who allows his employees to delegate upward. When a manager takes an unsolved problem from his subordinates, he is allowing a figurative monkey to leap from the employee’s back to his back. When a manager has too many monkeys, he is increasing his own load, probably failing to solve the problems effectively.

Oncken and Wass offer a well defined basic law for ‘managing monkeys’:

“At no time while I am helping you will your problem become my problem. The instant your problem becomes mine, you will no longer have a problem. I cannot help someone who hasn’t got a problem. You may ask my help at any appointed time, and we will make a joint determination of what the next move will be – and who will make it.”

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