Stress level getting you down? You're not alone.

If you’ve tried to schedule a social event with a friend this summer, you’ve probably discovered that the biggest obstacle is your overstuffed calendars. Balancing work and your personal life is difficult any time of year but summertime is worse. Most people try to pack their schedules with festivals, picnics, weddings, kids’ activities and vacations (Oh, yeah, and then there’s work, too.)

These days, there are additional work-related stressors driving us crazy. The pressure is on to boost productivity, the stock market doldrums have wiped out savings, lay offs are making everyone skittish and mobile technology makes it difficult to escape even if we want to.

Most people in the rest of the world shake their heads at our crazy American pace. Yes, we are a powerhouse of productivity but it comes at an increasingly heavy price. Our health, the well being of our families and even the productivity we are striving for are all at risk.

If you think you are feeling more stressed these days, you are in good company. Here is an eye-opening look at how stress is getting a strangle hold on America and some ideas about what you can do about it.

  1. ___% of all adults suffer adverse health effects due to stress.
  2. ___% of all visits to primary care physicians are for stress-related complaints or disorders.
  3. (T or F) Stress has been linked to all the leading causes of death, including heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis and suicide.
  4. An estimated ___ workers are absent on an average workday because of stress-related complaints.
  5. Stress is said to be responsible for more than ______ % of the 550,000,000 workdays lost annually because of absenteeism.
  6. A three-year study, conducted by a large corporation, showed that ____% of employee absences were due to psychological problems such as stress.
  7. Nearly ____% of all American workers suffer from symptoms of burnout, a disabling reaction to stress on the job.
  8. The proportion of workers who reported feeling "highly stressed" more than doubled from the years ____ to ____.
  9. ____ % of worker turnover is due to job stress.
  10. The Xerox Corporation estimates that it costs approximately $1 to 1.5 million to replace a top executive and average employee turnover costs between $_____ to $______ per individual.

Well, how did you do? Feeling a little stressed are we? Here are the answers as reported by the American Institute of Stress, Yonkers, NY:

  1. 43%
  2. 75-90%
  3. True
  4. 1 million
  5. 50%
  6. 60%
  7. 50%
  8. 1985 to 1990
  9. 40%
  10. $2,000 to $13,000

There’s no escaping it but what can you do about it? Here are a few ideas to clear your head and help you stay mentally and physically healthy.

  • Make time for family and friends and be fully "present" when you are with them. Years ago, I was "too busy" to do things with my friends and family while I built my speaking and training business. My friends dwindled down to the masochistic few. My family started to complain. It took the death of someone close to me to make me wake up. Don’t wait to get your priorities straight.

  • Financial problems cause stress. Over-spending on your "wants" instead of your "needs" is often the culprit. Pay down consumer debt and you’ll feel the load lift off of your shoulders.

  • Eat, sleep and exercise smarter. I don’t have to tell you about this one…just do it.

  • Share your problems with others who have had similar experiences. It will make you feel less isolated.

  • Learn to compartmentalize your day. Learn to leave work problems or family problems behind when you walk out the door. Listen to a book on tape in your car, go to the gym before you go home or any other technique that separates work stress from your personal life.

  • Savor the moment. Slow down at times to reflect on the world around you and what is important in your life. Set goals but don’t be a slave to them. Vary the pace of your life and mix in lots of laughter, fun, change, creativity and calm.

Joan Lloyd is a Milwaukee based executive coach and organizational & leadership development strategist. She is known for her ability to help leaders and their teams achieve measurable, lasting improvements. Joan Lloyd & Associates, specializes in leadership development, organizational change and teambuilding, providing: executive coaching, CEO coaching & leader team coaching, 360-degree feedback processes, retreat facilitation and presentation skill coaching and small group labs. Contact Joan Lloyd & Associates at (414) 573-1616,, or 
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