The great stress epidemic

Thursday 10 April, 2008

A sobering press release just landed in my inbox - apparently, 71% of staff working in London banks feel more stressed than they did only six months ago.

Almost as many questioned by the Financial Markets Stress Survey said they were experiencing three or more signs of stress, including insomnia, over-drinking (and I'm not talking about Earl Grey), and inability to concentrate.

A staggering 98% of staff at banking company Bear Stearns report feeling more stressed now then half a year ago.

Stress is already one of the biggest factors behind sick-leave from work, and visits to the doctor - some reports say up to 90% of all GP visits are from people complaining of stress, or related symptoms.

All this is no great surprise - but it is a small tragedy. Living at the pace of life most of us do is totally unsustainable, and allows no time for physical or emotional recuperation.

Our default mechanism for relaxing is yet more doses of fast-living: incessant email and Blackberry checking, alcohol, caffeine, sessions pounding on the gym treadmill.

I'm not advocating giving all these up, or rushing straight to live in an ashram. But balance and moderation is vital to wellbeing, and if a high stress job is somehow necessary, even 20 minutes of daily yoga and meditation can make a huge difference - helping us to tune into how we really feel.

There is absolutely no correlation between monetary wealth and happiness - the opposite, in fact, seems to be true.

City bankers may be rolling in unimaginable amounts of cash, but give me the life of a spiritual pauper any day.



Lucia Cockcroft, editor


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