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Shell Shocked: On the benefits of stress

By Staff | Jun 1, 2016

Stress has gotten a bad rap. There’s been a widespread campaign in recent years to prove to us how bad stress can be. The campaign has been joined by doctors, psychologists, fitness experts, religious leaders and ex-wives who are concerned about the regularity of alimony payments. It’s been drummed into our heads that stress causes depression, drug dependency, alcoholism, suicidal tendencies, poor health and even death. Aren’t these all a small price for us to pay for the many benefits of stress?

Let’s take a close look at the state of affairs known as stress and examine why the world would be a poorer place without it.

The Right To Stress Academy, a national organization recently formed to perpetuate stress, points to a recent study of six executives, which “clearly demonstrates that stress is beneficial rather than harmful.”

Seventy-two percent of the six executives surveyed in the study maintain that life without stress would be empty and meaningless. Or, as articulated succinctly by one ad agency executive, “I couldn’t handle my job if there were no stress. I wear stress as a badge of honor. It comes with the territory.”

Another professional put it this way: “If my boss didn’t yell at me at least once a day, I’d know something was dreadfully wrong. It’s not our lot to have a calm existence. Stress and I go together like ham and eggs. If I had wanted a calm existence I would have been a shell collector.”

An overwhelming 84 percent of the executives surveyed said that they would leave their jobs if there were no stress. The fact is that most of us gravitate to stress as flies do to honey. It’s unfortunate that the anti-stress lobby has been active while the right to stress majority has been silent, in some cases because of cardiac arrest.

It’s time to kick off the shackles and come out fighting. Those of us who like to put a little stress in our lives have been maligned and criticized once too often. The soothsayers would also have us believe that depression, a most natural outlet for stress, is also harmful. Depression is good for the economy because it creates jobs. Isn’t it as American as apple pie to light up a cigarette and have a stiff drink when you’re depressed? Would you want to put these important industries out of existence?

And what about psychiatrists? Think of all the training your sons and daughters went through to attain their positions as shrinks – healers of the dis-stressed. If there were no such condition as depression, thousands of psychiatrists would be forced to find new uses for their skills, such as conducting exit interviews for terminated alligator handlers.

It has become an in thing to be known as someone who carries stress around like a red badge of courage. It’s the height of chiqueness to pop two Tums at the beginning of a business lunch before chugalugging a dry martini.

And think of the sympathy vote you’ll get if you stop a business meeting during a tense moment to take your own blood pressure. You can demonstrate your strong single mindedness and independence by going against the grain.

Take exercise, for example. It would seem that there’s not a person alive who doesn’t engage in some form of physical fitness program to beat stress. Think of all the time you can save while everyone else is running, bicycling, or engaging in some form of aerobics. Let them strain knees or shoulders while you use the time more constructively worrying about tomorrow.

The Right To Stress Academy has a steadily growing enrollment. Unfortunately, the organization has not been able to provide some of the usual member benefits of other social and professional organizations, such as low cost life insurance. However, the academy provides its members with huge discounts on such products as valium and milk.

We should aim stress where it truly belongs – inwardly. If we aim it inwardly we help to increase stress rather than reduce it and that is the objective of the Right To Stress Academy. In order to further increase stress we urge bosses everywhere to exercise their rights and harass their employees more. By doing this they would allow us to reap the many benefits that increased stress provides.

-Art Stevens is a long-time columnist for The Islander. His tongue-in-cheek humor is always offered with a smile.