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Stress Part 7: Finding the Life That Fits

By John McManamy

First rule of managing stress: Learn to manage your life around it.

Second rule of managing stress: Don't expect any medication or recovery tool to bail you out if you fail to abide by the first rule.

Let me briefly recap:

Modern life has a way of turning even healthy individuals into DSM-IV basket cases. But our population is particularly vulnerable. Our brains overload a lot quicker and take a longer time resetting to normal than our more resilient neighbors. Next thing, we're not coping.

Depression, mania, anxiety, irrational thinking, alcoholism, drug use, eating disorders, aggression - these are just some of the things that can go wrong.

Heart attack - this is the body's final solution to too much stress. Stress also looms large in a whole panoply of physical ills, from the common cold to cancer.

We are not Superman. We are not even Normalman. We need to acknowledge our vulnerabilities, then choose wisely. Think of stress as the judging panel on American Idol. It's a constant life-and-death game of Simon Says.

Very recently, I was forced to make a series of decisions regarding my home-based business. I had reached a state of burn-out. I needed to bite the bullet and scale back.

My decision to start a home-based business, in turn, stemmed from the realization that I could never handle the demands of working for someone else. On one hand, I had created the best job in the world. But in many respects, my dream job had turned on me.

There is basically one theme and two variations to Stress Wars. Variation One goes like this:

Nothing could be better, so you go after more of it. If your job is going great, you take on additional responsibilities. If school is going great, you get involved in more activities. The accolades pile in. Your social life expands. You're not about to ease up on the throttle. Life is too good. Besides, you have responsibilities.

In Variation Two, nothing could be worse. Work turns against you. School turns against you. You feel alone and isolated. You buckle down and resolve to work harder. You tough it out. You have no other option. You have responsibilities.

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