I really get a kick out of stress sometimes. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t enjoy it when I have it. Stress sucks a big fat one. I usually don’t have it that much, and if I do, it’s usually something that can totally be cured with a 12-pack or so. I do often enjoy stress in others, though, so that’s what I was talking about when I said I got a kick out of it. I generally think it’s ridiculous when most people act stressed out. “Oh yeah, way to overreact to everything. Relax for a couple of minutes, and you’ll be just fine.” That’s the thing: Unless it’s your stress, it probably seems fairly irrelevant and easily curable.

I read a report the other day about stress in America, and it turns out we have really got a bad case of it. Stress had increased in 39% of the respondents in the past year, and if you go back five years, 44% said it had increased over that period. Only a little less than 30% of the people surveyed felt they were managing their stress in an excellent manner. I’m guessing those successful with their stress were accidentally sealed inside of a spa several years ago with nothing but Enya CDs and all the green tea they could guzzle. It’s either that or the stressless are simply idiots — probably a little of both.

The culprits for causing the stress were pretty predictable. Of course, money was the biggest offender, and it caused stress in 75% of the people. I can only assume that in this situation it was the lack of money rather than too much of it. No one ever has a hissy fit trying to figure out what to buy next. “Oh, hell’s bells, should I get another car or give it to charity? I’m freaking out, so I guess I’ll just do both.” Not having enough money to pay the bills each month can really be a bitch, though. Once you fall behind, catching up or even convincing yourself you could one day catch up probably kicks that stress into high gear. The best way to deal with this is to always have a shitload of money.

Work is stressful for 70% of the people. This is the most ridiculous thing to get stressed about, and yet it’s the easiest way to feel stress, at least for me. “Holy crap! I have to get this done by tomorrow. What the piss should I do?” Well, of course, the first thing a person should do is begin to worry their ass off about the impending deadline. Sure, they could just get to work and concentrate on that, but having a stress episode seems like a far better idea at the time. My solution is to simply realize that it’s going to get done one way or the other. The thing is, it usually does get done, so just pretend it’s going to. If it doesn’t, there’s always the stress of unemployment to look forward to.

Speaking of that sort of thing, 67% of those surveyed were worried about the economy. See, I totally don’t get that one at all. Unless you’re maybe Warren Buffett, worrying about the economy does no damned good at all because it’s far too much for one person to have control over. Fine, you can maybe worry about how the economy will affect you, but even that is pretty uncontrollable most of the time. The only way to avoid the stress is just to worry about your specific little part of the issue and make yourself as bulletproof as you can.

So how does a person fight stress? The first suggestion is to exercise. If nothing else, exercise takes a person’s mind off the stressor and allows them to concentrate on how much of a pain in the ass exercising is. The key is to find an exercise you enjoy because doing an exercise you hate can also trigger stress. Is that irony? It seems like irony, but I’m not sure.

It’s also important to be careful with your food intake. Dieting causes stress, so in order to eliminate this stress, you have to pretend you aren’t dieting — even though you are. Fun and impossible. It’s also important to get enough sleep. The key to this is to sleep just enough because too much can be a symptom of depression. Whatever. Just sleep when you’re tired.

It’s also suggested to not be negative. This is a fine idea if you plan to never leave the house or watch television. Otherwise, I’m guessing that will come up sometime.

Several years ago, basketball coach Bobby Knight had a quote about stress. I will spare you all from what he actually said and simply paraphrase it. If you can’t avoid it, you might as well enjoy it. Of course, he managed to make it more colorful and offensive than that, but whatever — his point is well taken. Stress feels like it can’t be helped, and like anything else, we start to depend on it after awhile. Pretty soon, we have to have a stress fit before we can make ourselves clean the house or even go to the grocery. Everything has to be an emergency, or at least we have to treat it that way. It sort of works, but let me tell you — it’s no damned fun.

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