Jeff Davidson's book, Simpler Living, was Amazon Kindle #1 in its category, first quarter, 2012. Jeff is featured in the NY Times, Forbes, Chicago Tribune, Businessweek, Fortune, Organized Executive, and Success.

Stressed Out…In Your Own Home

As the pace of society changes, we all are experiencing more stress. Years back, you could count on “dad” to bring his stress “home” from the office. Yet, the dominating direction has shifted–reports show that it’s more stressful for most career professionals outside of work! Today, Mom and Dad, Ted and Alice, or other significant others are likely to bring more stress to work than they leave with at the end of the day.

These “away for work” stressors encompass marriage, health, and loneliness. Consider what has happened to the average man and woman away from work in the last two decades and it’s not hard to see why getting to work can be a relief. First, traffic is worse everywhere. If that’s not bad enough, you could be wearing a beeper where you’re on call at any moment. If your health isn’t an issue for you, chances are the health of your children or your aging parents is.

Happily Ever After

There’s little evidence that the divorce rate is about to diminish, or that the quality of marriages en masse is experiencing some kind of positive, radical transformation. It’s tough today to maintain a committed, vibrant relationship. Think about your own!

What About Your Significant Other Gives You the Most Stress
  • Overly critical 28%
  • Sloppy 26%
  • Won’t talk 25%
  • Lack of attention to me 25%
  • Highly irritable 21%
  • Irresponsible 15%
  • Lies 12%
  • Late 10%
  • Unreliable 9%
  • Spendthrift 9%
  • Stingy 8%
  • Talks too much 6%
  • Excessively neat 5%
Among the litany of problems and obstacles that marriage partners face today are personal finances, career and dual career concerns, too many responsibilities, raising their children, health, sex – get it?

All of these are the same things that make the top ten stressors list. Pressed and frazzled by the onslaught of responsibilities, more couples are finding it exhausting to have to “be” with one another–to converse, to empathize, to be responsive. Not surprisingly, the number of families headed by a single adult, usually female, is growing, placing inordinate strains on working individuals with children. Spouses that both earn income have more income and spend more, but invariably are experiencing stress.

No friends? – Jacque Cook, an associate professor of psychiatry at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center says, “Millions of couples have no friends, even though many wish they could have the same warmth and sharing they see on television.” Many of us are too busy juggling family and career to make and keep friends, so we rely entirely on spouses to meet our need for companionship.

“This is not a good thing,” Cook says. “When you put all your eggs into the marriage, other relationships suffer and the marriage gets overtaxed. It’s too much to ask one person to meet all you emotional and practical needs.”

Cook suggests that couples who want to branch out and make friends take up tennis, golf, hiking, or join a civic or volunteer group.

To Your Health

One could fill volumes of health related concerns that people have today–from AIDS, to Alzheimer’s disease, to breast or prostate cancer, to irritable bowel syndrome. I think in large measure, all you have to do to understand society’s current health concerns is to step on the scale. The number of overweight Americans gained steadily in the past decade. One-third of people over age 20 tip the scales in the wrong direction, according to statistics in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

On average, adults weigh eight pounds more than they did a decade ago, according to a report by Dr. Robert Kuczmarski and colleagues at the National Center for Health Statistics, in Hyattsville, Maryland. “Comparisons…indicate dramatic increases in the prevalence” of overweight people, Kuczmarski said.

Overall, 60 million Americans are overweight. “While our caloric intake increases, our caloric expenditure decreases,” says Dr. F. Xavier Pi-Sunyer, St. Lukes- Roosevelt Hospital Center, New York City, in an editorial. “Sedentariness has become a way of life.”

All By Myself

Loneliness is making its way up the list of the top ten stressors. More people live alone in the U.S. than at any time in history, and the trend is beginning to take hold in Europe and other parts of the industrialized world. The average number of occupants per dwelling is actually falling. With television, on-line services, and the ability to be connected to the world, for many people, the most interaction they have throughout the day away from work, and in some cases even including work, is on-line psychobabble in a chat room.

Is it any surprise that television shows with themes such as that of “Friends” become instant hits from their first airing? Do you personally receive any type of vicarious pleasure from visiting with your electronic “friends” every week? (You know, Kramer, Caroline, big Al.)

Here are a few insights about loneliness and its potential relationship to stress:
  • Single or divorced men, on average, live much shorter lives than married men.
  • Many couples have no friends, even though many wish they could have the same warmth and sharing they see on television.
  • Elderly single (widowed, divorced, or never married) are more susceptible to sales and telephone scams. It is postulated that they desire to have a conversation with someone–anyone, be it a visiting solicitor or friendly voice on the phone.
  • On any given night, by about 9:30 eastern time, most if not all of the commercial on-line chat rooms are filled to capacity.
  • The “personals”–advertisements for companionship–in virtually every urban and suburban publication that carries them are a thriving feature of the respective publication. The ads themselves are placed by a vast range of individuals representing all races, ages, lifestyles, occupations, and sexual orientations.
  • Among those leaving suicide notes, being jilted by a lover continues to be cited as among the most prevalent reason for taking one’s life.
In observing contemporary society, it would not be an exaggeration to say that loneliness is a stress-inducing epidemic (if unarticulated as such) affecting people from all walks of life. This, coupled with other stressors, such as concern for health, whether it is your own or a loved one’s, make life away from work often as stressful as in the work place, if not more so.

Jeff Davidson is "The Work-Life Balance Expert®," is a preeminent time management authority, has written 65 mainstream books, and is an electrifying professional speaker, making 886 presentations to clients such as Lockheed Martin, Eckerd, Kaiser Permanente, IBM, American Express, Lufthansa, Swissotel, Re/Max, USAA, Worthington Steel, and the World Bank. Jeff is Executive Director of the Breathing Space Institute and the author of books such as:
  • Simpler Living (Skyhorse Publishing)
  • Dial It Down--Live it Up (Sourcebooks)
  • The 60 Second Innovator (Adams Media)
  • Breathing Space (CreateSpace)
  • Accomplishing Your Goals (Smart Guide Publications)
Jeff is the premier thought leader on work-life balance issues and has been widely quoted in the Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, Christian Science Monitor, New York Times, USA Today, Businessweek, Forbes, and Fortune. Cited by Sharing Ideas Magazine as a "Consummate Speaker," Jeff believes that career professionals today in all industries have a responsibility to achieve their own sense of work-life balance, and he supports that quest through his website

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