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If stress is the Black Death of the 21st century then I’m immunizing my kids NOW

A new report just came out that states that stress is now the leading cause of sickness in the workplace and is so widespread it can be dubbed the “Black Death of the 21st century.” http://bit.ly/qJLioH

In an article about the report it states that stress has has even eclipsed stroke, heart attack, cancer and back problems as the reason a worker would be out with a long-term illness, defined as four or more weeks of consecutive absence. 

Professor Cary Cooper of the Lancaster University Management School is quoted in the article as stating that stress is often signalled by certain changes in behavior – difficulty in focusing, losing your sense of humor and losing your temper more quickly.  He goes on to say that because of fears of being laid off, employees are suffering from presenteeism, spending more hours at work just to impress the boss.

This got me to thinking how this “Black Death” is taking it’s toll on all of us.  Last night my nine-year old came home with about two hours of homework.  A few parents (myself included) were on Facebook discussing the ridiculous words that made up part of our kids vocabulary homework last night – words I have never used in my adult life either professionally or personally.  How is this really helping them?!  She went to bed exhausted and certainly not happy.

My teenage babysitter said that the pressure in our town to get into the right college is stressing her classmates out to the point that they can’t sleep and feel ill.  They’ve overloaded their schedules with extra-curricular activities to impress college admissions so much so that they have no time to actually have fun anymore.  Is this the future we’re preparing them for?  And what message is that sending – “Work harder, keeping pushing yourself to the point of making yourself sick and you’ll be a success.”  We’re breeding a generation of kids that don’t even know how to relax and just have fun.

And as moms we’re not much better.  Whether we’re stay-at-home moms or have a second job that pays us, we’re over-scheduled and trying to maintain a normal home life with our partners who are completely stressed out.  Wife, mother, daughter caring for aging parents, chauffeur, housekeeper, cook and…oh yeah, somewhere in there trying to find time to just be ourselves!

I sent my daughter to bed last night telling her that I don’t care what school she goes to or what her grades are.  She’s the type of kid who will always try her best and that’s all that matters.  But, while she has the chance to be a kid (and it’s such a short time these days) I want her to be a kid!  Maybe when she grows up she can remember some carefree times in her childhood and that will get her through her stressed out days at work.

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