The Oklahoma State University’s Spears School of Business issued the following news release:
The causes of stress change with the times. While a typewriter ribbon’s breaking during a hectic day in the steno pool could really get the blood racing in another era, our current demons are uniquely 21st century. Based on the American Psychological Association’s 2008 midyear survey, here’s what women consider "significantly stressful" now:
1. MONEY 78%
Widespread layoffs, housing foreclosures, and record-high gas prices: No wonder money matters climbed from last year’s number-two spot.
2. HOUSEHOLD RESPONSIBILITIES 67%
Multitasking now more than ever, women put in 10 more hours of weekly work at home and on the job than men do, says Debra Nelson, Ph.D., professor of management at Oklahoma State University, Stillwater.
3. WORK 60%Hello, techno-stress. With demands not only called in, but e-mailed, IMed, and SMSed 24/7, we no longer have time to recover from yesterday’s deadline. In addition to the explosive pace, "you have people sitting six feet away who don’t talk to each other," says Dr. Paul J. Rosch, president of the American Institute of Stress. "There’s a loss of human connection and social support."
4. INTIMATE RELATIONSHIPS 56%
Talk about a snowball effect: Work and money woes turn time with partners into hotbeds of stress; caring for both kids and aging parents puts some over the edge.
5. TERRORISM 43%
Unless a loved one is in the military, most people respond to the headlines and then go on with their lives, says the APA’s Nancy Molitor, Ph.D. Today’s numbers are a sharp contrast to a Pew Research Center study conducted immediately after 9/11 that found 79 percent of women suffering from stress-related depression linked to the events.
QUIZ: How Stressed Are You?
1. I feel like a grade-A multitasker when:
a. I read the paper with my GoLean Crunch.
b. I field client phone calls while ordering my best friend’s birthday present on bluefly.com while eating my seaweed-salad lunch.
c. I BlackBerry during sex.
2. If I were to file a complaint with OSHA, I would cite the following work-related ailments:
a. That nasty manila-folder paper cut.
b. Do reading glasses count?
c. IBS, sleeplessness, hair loss, lockjaw, forehead wrinkling requiring Botox, carpal tunnel . . .
3. I go into panic mode when:
a. My cable’s out.
b. I’m late to a gyno appointment because of gridlock, or when my anniversary falls during a major work deadline.
c. I wake up.
4. If you hooked me up to a heart monitor and showed me copies of my credit report, you’d observe:
a. My resting heart rate.
b. A noticeable spike followed by quick stabilization. The numbers could be better, but I’ve got a two-year plan in place to be debt-free.
c. Ready the defibrillator!
5. When I’m feeling stressed, I:
a. Self-medicate with a couple of bong hits and a bottle of white zin.
b. Methodically cross the next three items off my to-do list before going for a jog in the park with my golden retriever and making dinner with my significant other. (I’m an equal-opportunist.)
c. Beeline for Starbucks and order up a "Black Eye": a drip coffee plus two shots of espresso. (Gotta grease the productivity machine.)
6. The Grey’s Anatomy character whose stress-management style I relate to most is:
a. Meredith Grey . . . I’m unflappable–some days thanks to heavy meds; others, tequila.
b. Cristina Yang . . . I’m excitable, but always in control.
c. Izzie Stevens . . . One more spaz-out and I’m permanently demoted to desk duty.
7. What I love most about caffeine is:
a. How it gets me through a hungover Sunday morning.
b. Its presence in my cellulite cream. (I apply it daily.)
c. In beverage form or Excedrin, it erases my damn stress headaches.
HOW STRESSED ARE YOU?
Mostly A’s: Cool as a Corpse
Your blood pressure’s so low, smoking and a high-sodium diet are doc’s orders.
Mostly B’s: Stress Is Your BFF
Driven yet balanced, you let stress motivate but not dominate.
Mostly C’s: Heart Attack on Legs
You live with chest pains the way most of us live with split ends.
TRUTH or MYTH
Do These Alterna-Therapies Actually Abolish Stress?
A recent study of hypertension in the Journal of the American Heart Association found that cat and dog owners fared significantly better under stress than those without pets. Best friends indeed.
COMFORT FOOD Myth.
Your blood sugar falls when you’re stressed, and most carby foods contain refined sugar, which only creates more dramatic highs and lows in your glucose level.
Researchers at McGill University in Canada found that in low doses, marijuana increased the level of mood-boosting serotonin in the brain. Large amounts had the reverse effect, worsening depression in the long run. And of course, illegality could bring stresses all its own.
PUNCHING A PILLOW Myth.
Recent studies at Iowa State University put Princess Diana’s favorite "catharsis hypothesis" to the test and found that college students were more agitated and aggressive after pummeling a punching bag.
As a central nervous system depressant, alcohol reduces tension when consumed moderately – meaning one drink a day. Getting wasted, however, has the opposite effect and raises blood pressure.
A recent batch of studies show that for women, saying "I do" doesn’t offer protection from stress and other health problems, as we’d once assumed. Only a happy marriage can.
RETAIL THERAPY Truth.
According to doctors at Emory University, shopping can give your brain’s pleasure centers a rush of feel-good dopamine that drops off after you leave the store.