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See Inside September / October 2011

Fight the Frazzled Mind: Proactive Steps Manage Stress

A new study suggests that preventive, proactive approaches are the most helpful--and that our stress management IQ is painfully low

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“Desserts” spelled backward is “stressed.”Isn’t life like that? Even the good things in life—fine wine, rich food, sex—can stress you out.

There is just no escaping stress, and some experts even suggest that a little stress is good for you. In my view, that idea is flawed—the misleading result of ­averaging data across many individuals. Yes, high levels of stress are harmful to most people, adversely ­affecting health, mood and productivity. And yes, most people perform and feel better when faced with moderate levels of stress. And sure, very few people know how to be productive when they are not being pushed by stressors—but it can be done. Just as some people are able to perform well under highly stressful conditions (think Olympic athletes), it is also possible to perform well when relaxed (think masters of kung fu). That should be the goal, in my opinion: a life that is productive but also virtually stress-free.

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