Surviving the Stress Test


Ever caught yourself in that moment when you've absolutely had it up to here? When you're pounding your fist on the rental-car counter and yelling at the comatose clerk? Or lying awake at 2 AM (and 3, and 4...), trying to untangle the worry knot in your brain? Or smiling and nodding your way through a conversation and then suddenly realizing you haven't heard a word the person has said? Stress manifests itself in as many ways as there are people, but it affects us all the same: Your heart races, your blood pressure spikes, and adrenaline and stress hormones surge through your body.

It doesn't have to be that way. Though we can't stop the onslaught of potentially stressful events (good and bad) that get lobbed into any given day, we can absolutely change how we deal with it. And the response is what staying sane is all about. When technology guru Nicholas Negroponte was recently asked if he thought the constant barrage from cell phones, e-mail, BlackBerries, and other gadgets was making life more stressful, his answer was as simple as it was profound: "I almost always carry my cell phone with me," he explained. "But it's normally turned off. I control what information I get and when I get it. It's working in 'real time' that's the killer." That's his secret. You'll find 23 more on p. 156, in "Chill Out!" We talked to the country's top stress experts about some of the most stressful times in their own lives--from daily annoyances to outright tragedies-and how they learned to handle them.

I know an exercise physiologist who teaches relaxation techniques to high-powered executives. On his computer monitor he's taped an index card that reads, in big block letters, BREATHE. He's one of the calmest, most together people I know. When I catch myself in a moment of stress overload, I try to remember that if even this guy has to remind himself to stop and take a deep breath, surely so do I. And so do you-that's the first step. For more, read on.



By Rosemary Ellis, Editorial Director

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