In denial: Why we’re still stressed
January 18th, 2012
02:29 PM ET

In denial: Why we’re still stressed

Editor's note: CNN contributor Amanda Enayati ponders the theme of seeking serenity: the quest for well-being and life balance in stressful times.

Stress in America, the American Psychological Association’s annual survey, came out last week.

The results were not particularly shocking. Large numbers of Americans are stressed out. Many, extremely so. And far too many are failing to take adequate action to alleviate the stress in their lives.

All of which led my editors to wonder: If we recognize the negative health implications of high stress levels - heart disease, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and depression, among others - then why are so many of us doing such a poor job at managing it?

The answer, according to the experts I consulted, may be a sort of willful blindness known as the “optimism bias.”

“It is a natural human inclination to see our situation and our future through rose-colored glasses,” says David Ropeik, author of “How Risky Is It, Really?: Why Our Fears Don’t Always Match the Facts.”

“We tend to see our prospects as being far better than they may actually be - and particularly when compared to the next guy. This optimism lets us deal with hardship and take chances in life.”

Say you’re asked how long you think your marriage will last. You will probably estimate far longer than it is statistically likely to. And if you’re asked to estimate the longevity of your marriage compared to someone else’s, your overestimation is likely to be even greater.

“We certainly do this with our health: How likely is it that you will be hospitalized in the next five to ten years? How likely is it compared to someone else? You will get similar results,” Ropeik says.

Most people are mildly optimistic and that’s a good thing, observes Dr. Tali Sharot, author of “The Optimism Bias: A Tour of the Irrationally Positive Mind.”

“The 20% or so of people who do not have an optimism bias are clinically depressed. In fact, when things go really bad, people become more optimistic, not less, because that’s when we need it most.”

According to Sharot, there is even more reason to celebrate our inclination toward hope. “Optimism is better for your mental health - it eases your mind and actually lowers your stress.”

It also benefits your physical health. Optimistic people are more likely to follow doctors’ orders, to take vitamins, to eat better and exercise. Also, optimism can become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you believe in a positive outcome, you are more likely to act toward it.

The downside to the optimism bias comes into play when people’s rosy perceptions lull them into denial, rather than judicious action.

“People believe they have a lot of control over [their] lives - sometimes even when things are truly beyond their control. They justify to themselves that there are things they can do to avoid negative consequences. For example, they may think, ‘I know stress has all these negative effects, but I can steer the wheel in the right direction when I need to. I can maybe exercise more!’ But in reality they are not exercising more, nor are they taking any other action that may be protective.”

Ropeik agrees. “Risks that are a matter of choice don’t seem to scare us as much. It’s a whole other emotional language. The bottom line, though, is that stress is really a bad thing. We are running around freaking people out about rare diseases when stress is way worse as a contributor to a host of chronic illnesses, including certain cancers.”

At the end of the day, “the bias toward optimism is helping you cope to some degree, but it can also be deceiving you into ignoring a danger,” notes Ropeik. “To the extent we are less worried about something than we should be, that clearly raises our risk. If optimism bias is letting us deny that our stressed lives are bad for our health, that harm far outweighs the measure of relief optimism can bring.”

“Two things to keep in mind: you want to be aware of the risk and you want to be clear about the psychology behind the way you read and assess the risk. When you know both, you will be better equipped to take action.”

Sharot sounds a similar caution: “People should become aware of their biases and understand how the brain creates these illusions. There is nothing wrong with people having the belief that they’re going to be okay, as long as it doesn’t end there.”

“Encourage the optimism,” urges Sharot, “but also stress the need for action.”

Want to act? Here are some quick stress busters and how they work.

soundoff (113 Responses)
  1. JT

    What a horribly equivocal and circuitous article.

    First we have this quotation: "According to Sharot, there is even more reason to celebrate our inclination toward hope. “Optimism is better for your mental health – it eases your mind and actually lowers your stress.” "

    Then we have the headline, "Optimism may keep stress levels up" and the overall conclusion that "If optimism bias is letting us deny that our stressed lives are bad for our health, that harm far outweighs the measure of relief optimism can bring."

    So which is it? One of the two is incorrect, as they are not compatible with each other. Optimism cannot simulataneously increase and decrease stress.

    I would suggest reading the study by Sharot or simply googling "TIME magazine optimism bias" as I distinctly remember reading a better explanation several months ago on their website.

    January 18, 2012 at 15:21 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JS

      Maybe you're having problems with reading comprehension. I think the point is that it's a double-edged sword. It's protective but it can also lead to denial which can be bad.

      January 18, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
    • D

      JS-the headline is very stupidly worded and misleading given what the article is about. I agree with JT.

      January 18, 2012 at 15:52 | Report abuse |
    • fix your stress for FREE!

      Modern "western" psychology is WONG on every level and cannot help you. Seek the "4th way" if you truly want to be free of stress..but you must do the work! I recommend a starter book by Harry Benjamin called "Basic Self-Knowledge", a guide to the Fourth Way work.

      January 19, 2012 at 14:37 | Report abuse |
    • Sam Hill

      "Modern "western" psychology is WONG on every level" Actually, it's the Eastern Psychology that is Wong on every level. No matter where you look, the therapist is always named Wong. I know, I'm stressing you out. That was Wong of me.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:18 | Report abuse |
    • @ fix

      Go troll your c-rap somewhere else. No one wants to buy your sh\it.

      January 19, 2012 at 21:47 | Report abuse |
    • shazam

      here's the answer: high hopes, low expectations.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:53 | Report abuse |
  2. D

    Also, I think that what they are actually referring to in the article is DENIAL, not optimism.

    January 18, 2012 at 15:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  3. Cali

    D – you make a good point: when optimism becomes excessive, it crosses over to denial.

    I appreciated this article. I think it's fascinating that people usually interpret their situation as being better than the next guy's. What does this mean for "the grass is always greener" bias that many people seem to have?

    January 18, 2012 at 16:17 | Report abuse | Reply
  4. don

    eat a lot of junk food

    January 18, 2012 at 16:36 | Report abuse | Reply
  5. hamsta

    The more i get stressed out the more i spend on my fish tank.the more i spend on my fish tank the more she nags at me.the more she nags at me the more i get stressed out.

    January 18, 2012 at 22:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • metoo

      I feel your pain hamsta. Total emapthy ~ Biotch

      January 19, 2012 at 14:33 | Report abuse |
    • Sam Hill

      Get rid of the dang fish tank. Maybe you should get a gui neapig, or one of those other little furry creatures. Can't remember what they're called. Like big rats? Oh yeah! Gerbils.

      January 19, 2012 at 14:48 | Report abuse |
    • Sam Hill

      This thing won't let me post p ig or swi ne or anything remotely porky. Who censors gui nea p igs?

      January 19, 2012 at 15:29 | Report abuse |
    • JuneCleaversBeaver

      Must be a Muslim or Jewish moderator who is afraid of p ork. Truthfully just means more h am and bar-b-que for me.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:42 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe


      January 20, 2012 at 18:30 | Report abuse |
    • Daoud

      I'm with you, marriage is a catch 22. And that's not being negative that is stating a fact.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:09 | Report abuse |
  6. Leo

    The secret to a low-stress life? Don't take out loans and don't keep credit cards. Don't put yourself in debt. Don't buy things you can't afford. Live simply. Enjoy the little things. Don't keep too many electronics. Put more emphasis on where you go than on what you drive. Don't eat fast food. Take time to cook, even if it's a simple and inexpensive meal. Surround yourself with positive people and stop worrying about what everyone else thinks of you.

    That's the secret.

    January 18, 2012 at 23:45 | Report abuse | Reply
    • mike

      you are correct Leo!

      January 19, 2012 at 04:38 | Report abuse |
    • Helen

      I agree with you. Just don't keep it a secret.

      January 19, 2012 at 09:27 | Report abuse |
    • fix your stress for FREE!

      that is only one facet of the answer but YOU are Correct. read Harry Benjamin's Basic Self-Knowledge, a guide to the Fourth Way work for the other clues to living a stress free life.

      January 19, 2012 at 14:40 | Report abuse |
    • Joseph in Palm Coast FL

      Great Advice

      January 19, 2012 at 14:45 | Report abuse |
    • Michael D.

      Very well said, and totally agree with you!!!

      January 19, 2012 at 15:27 | Report abuse |
    • JuneCleaversBeaver

      I've found that screaming: "SERENITY NOW" helps me.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:43 | Report abuse |
    • Frankenstein

      I thought it was run up a lot of bills, eat out all the time, drive a fast shiny car, stay up all night with wild women, and dress like a twenty-year-old. You mean I'm doing it wrong?

      January 19, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • Billie

      All that sounds like a good idea, but it's not realistic for everyone. I'm supporting my parents and my children at the same time. Being debt free is not an option.

      January 19, 2012 at 19:31 | Report abuse |
    • sue

      Thank you Leo

      January 20, 2012 at 01:53 | Report abuse |
    • Brian

      You mean instead of anti-hypertensives, anti-depressants, anti-inflammatories, anti-cholesterols, anti-diabetes medications! Leo you are right on! Wish you could teach a class to the pharmaceutical reps!

      January 20, 2012 at 11:26 | Report abuse |
    • lydia

      I'm debt free and eat healthy and am super stressed out. I think life can be a bit more complicated than that. I am on a board of a charity and choose to help people and and animals. When you see how much suffering there is in the world, and how hard it is too help everyone in need, it becomes a stressful life. The alternative, turn your back? Maybe for some, not me. I guess you can say it is self induced, but I'd rather help people and be stressed than live in a bubble.

      January 20, 2012 at 12:05 | Report abuse |
    • Margie

      I totally agree with you Leo. Too many folks are trying to "keep up with the Jones" and can't afford it; eat out where its outrageous when it only takes a half hour to fix a decent meal; trash the credit cards; buy only what you need; When working (retired/disabled now) I saved $10 out of every month. I used to spend that and more on lunch at the mall................geez....................$310 a month adds up every year and year. Of course, something will have to be taken out for big payments, like insurance, medical, etc. but try to put it back. Let Savings be your Best Friend...............try it 6 mos, see how it works; you won't like to give it back from savings, lol

      January 20, 2012 at 21:15 | Report abuse |
    • Tony

      Totally agree with the idea and thats what I have been always following with 2 exceptions.

      I keep just 2 credit cards which have zero annual fees to rake the points/cash back but I pay these always on time to avoid any late fees.

      I have a home-mortgage as I didn't have sufficient to make a cash transaction of the minimum home size I needed. However, I paid 40% down on it to keep the monthly payments low. This is debatable as other folks advised that I was better off paying minimum on the mortgage and invest the rest insead. Well historically (working for 7 years now) I have nver made more than 3% on investments and my fixed rate mortgage is 4%. When I have extra cash I pay it as additional principal to reduce the amount I pay the bank as interest. I believe the "peace of mind" of owning a home by paying of the mortgage earlier is much better than any luck I may have in making huge returns on other investments which I can always start after owning the home.

      January 21, 2012 at 10:32 | Report abuse |
  7. neurosurge

    The real secret is get off the drugs folks. Vitrually everyone is on drugs....1,3,7 Trimethylxanthine that is. The sad thing is people don't even realize what is causing many if not all of their problems and even if you proved it and showed them they still would not get off of this drug. This drug is a natural pesticide, a mild form of cocaine, causes anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, allergies, IBS, heart disease, cancer, and diabetes to name a few and I bet many of you are amped up on this drug right now. If you would like to know what 1,3,7 trimethylxanthine is .....then do your research to find out the truth of what it does to humans. Take the challenge folks get off of the drugs and see if your stress level drops....3 months minimum.

    Keep this in mind cigarettes were once thought to be harmless.

    January 19, 2012 at 00:26 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnkeating

      That's a pretty sweeping statement, to say that [caffeine] is the singlemost biggest contributor to our mental ills. I wonder if that's really true. I doubt it's the biggest, but it probably does contribute. We do live in an overstimulated society.

      January 19, 2012 at 11:37 | Report abuse |
    • Sam Hill

      is the cause of every bad thing in the entire world back to the beginning of recorded history, and if only we could stop people from doing , deserts would bloom and all evil would vanish as a Golden Age began.

      Hebrews 13:8 Jesus Christ. The same yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse |
    • Billie

      People have been drinking caffeine for centuries. The stress we are under now is because we are so far removed from our natural state.

      January 19, 2012 at 19:33 | Report abuse |
  8. mike

    very true.

    January 19, 2012 at 04:38 | Report abuse | Reply


      January 19, 2012 at 15:58 | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Curse

      My Kid Made the Honor Roll at School #42

      My Other Car is a Porsche

      Don't Like the Way I Drive? Call 1-800-EAT-****

      January 19, 2012 at 16:25 | Report abuse |
    • Daoud

      @Jesuspunch, this is what I've learned....no jesus no peace....know jesus still no f**ck|ng peace. "I'd rather cast a spell than say a prayer" -Ray Wylie Hubbard.

      January 22, 2012 at 12:17 | Report abuse |
  9. Scott

    I can giv you one clue! My current employer only ADDS to our stress! Then we get slammed if we try to take actions to manage our health (like eating oat meal, playing music, etc.) we get slammed – No Eatting at your desk, No music. They even moved us into a worse and more stressful environment. So we sit in a room with 4 white walls answering phones – like we are now tied to our desks. And wehat we hear from out manager is "That's they way they do it in India!" My question is when did our boss go to India? And when is she moving there?

    January 19, 2012 at 07:48 | Report abuse | Reply
    • JuneCleaversBeaver

      Perhaps you should have paid more attention in school so you wouldn't be tied to a dead end job.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:45 | Report abuse |
    • Frankenstein

      See if there's a technical or community college near you. Some certificate programs are less than a year, and get you into medical tech jobs that pay very well.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:47 | Report abuse |
  10. SuZieCoyote

    Corporations are working people to death. Most stress is related to long hours that creates difficulty in managing our families. People are being crushed, working longer and longer hours, with no regard other than lining the pockets of the wealthy even further. All this nonsense about little stress-busters can't negate the impact of corporations pushing "productivity" by loading people's schedules up more and more. Come on. Get Real.

    January 19, 2012 at 10:28 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnkeating

      Yes. We're all economic slaves [to corporations]. Most of us are one or two paychecks away from being homeless.

      January 19, 2012 at 11:35 | Report abuse |
    • Ancient Curse

      Exactly right. Folks are paid just enough to pay most of the bills; overtime or a second or third job takes care of the rest. Our salaries have stagnated as the cost of living has increased, so we must work more in order to survive. We've finally gotten to the point where we earn just enough to pay the bills and not much more, so we're not buying like we used to, which makes the economy take a nosedive. Want to see a REAL job creator? Look in the mirror. Consumers create demand, but only when we can afford it. Want to stimulate demand? Pay your employees a living wage instead of hoarding money offshore (to the tune of $2 trillion and rising).

      January 19, 2012 at 16:29 | Report abuse |
    • Guinea

      I agree 100%.

      There's a limit to how much personal responsibility one can take via healthy living and stress relievers. If you have a hard deadline and not enough time to meet it, are you sitting at your desk for the next hour or going to the gym? Are you delivering on time, or getting enough sleep? If you ask for more resources and are told there's no budget, if you get a call at 4:45 on Friday that says, I hate to ask you to work again this weekend, but we have to have....[fill in the blank]...

      The people I know who are the least stressed are the ones without full time corporate jobs.

      January 26, 2012 at 15:41 | Report abuse |
  11. Pam Jasper

    We don't deal with the stress because that would take doctor visit, which some people can't afford. I have been out of a job for 3 years, but I am lucky my husband has his. At this point stress is just a part of our lives at the end of the month. Yes we use coupons, we grow veggies in our garden in the summer time to save on that but we are also 50 and we have one in collage and one in the 1st grade so, we have no extra money for anything else. Yes we walk, go to the Y and eat healthy but after 3 years, there is nothing more to be done so I don't agree with anything that this article has to say, stress is just a part of life right now

    January 19, 2012 at 10:34 | Report abuse | Reply
  12. Angela

    Doctors are USELESS when it comes to stress or depression. They don't care about you as a person or your quality of life. You are just one more face, one more name with one more sad story that has zero effect on their lives at the end of the day. They care about their quality of life, just like everybody else. Doctors, in general, don't care about anything but getting paid at the end of the day, just like everybody else. The only person who truly CARES about YOUR individual wellbeing is YOU.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnkeating

      Good point. There are well-intentioned medical doctors, but they're in a rigged system where they have limited knowledge and can only do so much for their patients. They're economic slaves too, like the rest of us, working for a system that puts profit ahead of wellness. So much for the medical establishment.

      January 19, 2012 at 11:39 | Report abuse |
    • Dylan

      Angela, it depends on the doctor. I've had two different internists help me out greatly when I was experiencing very stressful situations. That said, I suspect while doctors know all about the ill effects of stress, many are under stress themselves to see as many patients as possible. Tough to practice compassionate care in that situation.

      January 22, 2012 at 15:08 | Report abuse |
  13. iceload9

    People endure stress because they have no choice. You can inject any social babble you like but that's the answer. The cleaver is now constantly hanging over all of us. What can you do about it? Change jobs? That's just the same thing with different bosses and you may have increased your odds of being whacked. The only way to reduce stress is to get a level of control and right now the middle class has zero control and will not have any for the foreseeable future.

    January 19, 2012 at 11:08 | Report abuse | Reply
    • johnkeating

      We're all economic slaves, squeezing each other to death via wealth hoarding. This wealth-hoarding business has to stop and there has to be either something like income equality, or doing away with the economic system (money) altogether. Materialism has to go!!

      January 19, 2012 at 11:43 | Report abuse |
  14. Barry G.

    Our current stress levels may be due to too little sleep, too much sugar and caffeine, nicotine for some, too little exercise, and too much electronic devices and rushing around, and failing to take one day a week to rest and do nothing.

    January 19, 2012 at 13:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Barry G.

      And I neglected to mention, perhaps our stress levels are also due to too much sodium (salt), too much fat in our diets and too little fruits, vegetables, whole grains, etc..

      January 19, 2012 at 13:04 | Report abuse |
    • Frankenstein

      With me it's too much sleep, not enough alcohol, caffeine, and drugs, too much exercise, not enough salt, and too much veggies.

      January 19, 2012 at 16:20 | Report abuse |
    • Barry G.


      You're alright.

      January 19, 2012 at 16:51 | Report abuse |
    • Loretta

      And I thought you you were comming back because you left off the most important stress factor for me, emotional.

      Family, work, friends, economy, health, etc. emotional stress is what triggers allot of what you listed.

      January 19, 2012 at 17:22 | Report abuse |
  15. DCwriter

    Our culture feed stress. We are told in our jobs that our employers want us to achieve that elusive and possibly imaginary "work-life balance," and yet when we need to take off time to be with our families, we are made to feel like our jobs are in peril and the job should be the #1 priority. We need to stop kidding ourselves. This country cares about work and money–not health, family, mental well-being, or happiness. Just make money, and spend far more than you have.

    January 19, 2012 at 13:48 | Report abuse | Reply
  16. Mike

    Stress levels are linked to the ridiculous cost of living increases in comparison to our miniscule, and getting smaller, pay increases. Depending on income level, up to 90% of income is now directly tied to living expenses (transportation, food, fuel, heat, utilities etc). This leaves very little money to spend on stress relieving activities.

    January 19, 2012 at 13:49 | Report abuse | Reply
  17. Alan

    What people eat causes stess; if you stop all animal based products for just 3 weeks, you will see a huge decrease in all parameters used to guage stress.

    January 19, 2012 at 13:58 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam Hill

      If I stopped eating meat for two weeks, you'd see a huge increase in my stress levels. Vegetarians think vegetarianism is the answer, Christians think Jesus is the answer. Gay people think it's lots of K-Y. Ron Paul voters say He is the Way. Me, I think beer and red meat cures stress better than meditation.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:26 | Report abuse |
    • Alan

      @ Sam – Except, my theory can be tested and the results are always true.

      January 19, 2012 at 16:16 | Report abuse |
    • SuZieCoyote

      Actually, no. It doesn't test out true, except in rigged tests. People who eat naturally-raised meat. dairy, pastured chicken and eggs, fermented foods (yoghurt, etc), healthy oils and other real foods are exceptionally healthy and generally have a balanced weight. People who eat grains (so my hybridization our bodies don't know what to do with them, causing autoimmune disorders, sugars (both refined and "natural") corn syrup and vegetable oils grow fat and diabetic. That's just the way it is, thought the religion of vegetarianism preaches otherwise. Yeah, eating well is very expensive. Good food isn't cheap. But cheap food isn't good, either. Hitler was a vegetarian (Rise and Fall of the third Reich.)

      January 19, 2012 at 19:41 | Report abuse |
  18. Rabbit One

    I have some immediate things you can do: eat well; go to the farmers market; go to whole foods; make friends with vegetables and fruits and healthy meat (if you need it) and nuts and raw foods; have a good non-possessive, fun and engaging romantic life; try to have the job and education you want most; work on additional creative projects; explore nature and other languages, people and cultures; play sports; get involved in math, literature or religion; – basically there are a ton of avenues for not stressing – stressing is in fact an enemy within the self – but other times it is a motivating factor of change – so also don't refuse the occasional benefits of stress

    January 19, 2012 at 14:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  19. Dan

    "The 20% or so of people who do not have an optimism bias are clinically depressed" – Wow, so if you look at the world realistically you're clinically depressed? No wonder so much of the population is on anti-depressants. People do have some control over their lives and they can reduce their stress levels by lowering debt and trying to stay in good physical shape. Though, they're less able to stop employers from abusing the salary system and requiring 60+ hour work weeks with no overtime or stopping the constant price increases of groceries, gas, insurance, property taxes, and utilities. Also, a major illness could wipe out a family's nest egg even with insurance.

    January 19, 2012 at 14:06 | Report abuse | Reply
  20. johnRJ08

    We are stressed out by the media's relentless focus on terrible news. We also have a political campaign be waged right now that is a constant source of negativity about the condition of the economy and the country. If 1/10th of the things which have been said about President Obama by these absurd Republican candidates, then Obama should be arrested and executed for treason. There is no such thing as optimism today. The media won't allow it. The President ends a 10-year war, and the media covers it for two days, then covers all the criticism about ending the war for the next two weeks. The destructive nature of television news is only surpassed by the corruptive influence of money in politics. Both are slowly killing this country.

    January 19, 2012 at 14:19 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam Hill

      Wait, the Republicans are saying mean things about the President? But I thought Republicans were good people? Tell me it isn't true!

      January 19, 2012 at 15:28 | Report abuse |
  21. DRinNC

    Hey if you don't like stress, pickup a big hammer and whack yourself in the head as hared as you can. When you wake up your life will be stress free. You will lay in bed while some one comes and feeds you three time daily, and even changes your diaper as needed.

    January 19, 2012 at 14:31 | Report abuse | Reply
  22. fix your stress for FREE!

    Its called the "4th way" by GI Gurdjieff and it will change you psychologically forever, its free if you can find a orator that teaches locally. Once you re-program all your bad thinking you are free forever from any stress...of course it will make your friends and family highly stressed that you are not susceptible to their crazy behavioral thinking anymore. C'mon in boys the water's fine!

    January 19, 2012 at 14:32 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam Hill

      It didn't do much for Gurdjieff and Madame Blavatsky and that bunch; it's a complicated philosophy but were their lives any better off for it?

      January 19, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse |
    • @ fix

      Go away already. Peddle your crap somewhere else. Troll.

      January 19, 2012 at 21:54 | Report abuse |
  23. B

    Optimism is pointless. Its based on the idea that life will play out exactly how you imagine it. Good luck with that, it will just let you down over and over again. Its delusional. Its better to be realistic, assess your current situation, and be happy with what you have. Strive for more, but don't hold out hope. Hope is the destroyer of all contentment and joy. Thats why it was left in Pandoras box. Your best friend will die in a car crash. Your lover will get cancer. You will get cancer. Youll lose your job and house. Learn to be happy now, in the moment, what what you are and what you have. From that springs all happiness and ultimately even the meaning of life.

    January 19, 2012 at 14:41 | Report abuse | Reply
    • fix your stress for FREE!

      very true, nice job B.

      January 19, 2012 at 14:46 | Report abuse |
    • Sam Hill

      It's called Existentialism, and you aren't the first to think of it. Life is tragic, but also wonderful; I'll die someday but first I will have LIVED! While I was here I loved, and was loved, and helped make a new person also capable of those things, and I left my mark on a lot of people and things, even bathroom walls. Live it up while you are here, and leave a record for those you come after you.

      January 19, 2012 at 14:57 | Report abuse |
  24. Jon Stone


    January 19, 2012 at 14:47 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam Hill

      Clutch? Is grabbing your junk a new kind of Tebowing?

      January 19, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse |
  25. Sam Hill

    I'm not stressed. I stress other people.

    January 19, 2012 at 14:51 | Report abuse | Reply
  26. ac

    I am stressed because the GOP is still allowed to exist.

    January 19, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam Hill

      They will split into gops, teabaggers, and paulbots pretty soon and we won't have to worry for a decade or two.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:04 | Report abuse |
    • Worf

      Liberals are bigots.

      Heil, third reichers!

      January 21, 2012 at 12:06 | Report abuse |
  27. HenkV

    Of course we're stressed. We keep hearing every day that we have to hate those people that provide us with –productive– employment, well knowing that if we win this hate battle we'll all be out of a –productive– job.

    January 19, 2012 at 14:53 | Report abuse | Reply
  28. ProperVillain

    We are stressed out because we live in a culture that values material wealth over relationships and actually living. Which causes us to work an outrageous amount of hours and neglect the very relationships we should be nourishing. In short, America is one of the most bass ackwards nations in the civilized world. You can criticize Europe for being "socialist" all you want but the fact is most europeans live longer, healthier and happier lives than most Americans.

    January 19, 2012 at 15:01 | Report abuse | Reply
    • ColdWarVet75

      You think so? They are running out of money with their socialist ways. There is no free lunch and the people who are paying are tired of the people who are not sponging off of them.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:39 | Report abuse |
  29. CnnREFUGEE

    stop caring so much.
    Life ends.
    Enjoy it while it last.

    January 19, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  30. ThereYaGo

    "I, not events, have the power to make me happy or unhappy today. I can choose which it shall be. Yesterday is dead. Tomorrow hasn't arrived yet. I just have one day, today, and I'm going to be happy in it." ~Groucho Marx

    I believe these to be very powerful words. They changed my life. 🙂

    January 19, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Sam Hill

      "Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside of a dog it's too dark to read." – Groucho Marx
      These are also powerful and life-changing words. The password is SWORDFISH.

      January 19, 2012 at 15:22 | Report abuse |
    • Chartreuxe

      Great wisdom from a man who knew much unhappiness.

      January 20, 2012 at 19:06 | Report abuse |
  31. Tim

    The economy and the job market are doing a lot of it. First of all, there's the stress of unemployment. Then there's the stress of being employed and fearing a job loss. And finally, there's the stress where, even if your job doesn't appear in jeopardy, you're probably working longer hours doing more work with fewer colleagues, and not getting a raise for several years, all the while being told you should be thankful you have a job at all. Corporate America is killing us – not that we often provide an "assist" with our own bad lifestyle choices, but they don't care how much stress they put on us if they can extract one more cent out of this quarter's earnings report.

    January 19, 2012 at 15:16 | Report abuse | Reply
  32. Sam Hill

    My bias towards optimism is one of the things that sets me apart from the herd of mindlessly-cropping sheep that clog society's fertile fields today, and I'll deal with a little stress if that's the tradeoff.

    January 19, 2012 at 15:20 | Report abuse | Reply
  33. CnnRefugee

    "The economy and the job market are doing a lot of it. First of all, there's the stress of unemployment. Then there's the stress of being employed and fearing a job loss."

    You make a GREAT point.
    Thats all the most reason to stop giving a damn.Employed or unemployed.Unless you like being the hamster on the wheel chasing down that white rabbit down that long hole.LOL.

    January 19, 2012 at 15:22 | Report abuse | Reply
  34. Rich

    If I read one more story about stress, I'll strangle somebody 😦

    January 19, 2012 at 15:34 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Frankenstein

      Grrr! It's enough to make you just SNAP!

      January 19, 2012 at 16:21 | Report abuse |
  35. ColdWarVet75

    We have stress because for the most part we ask for it. We get kids involved in activities everyday of the week. So we have to rush home, rush through dinner or fsat food to get the kids to soccer, baseball, karate or whatever. We get stressed as do the kids who don't have time to just play and be a kid. Then we feel like we need to be in constant motion. When was the last time someone just stayed home on the weekend and enjoyed thier homes? Make some coffee or tea and read a book on a Saturday afternoon. Get rid of the Crackberrys too. Very few people are that important that they must be in constant communication. Go for a walk. That is one of the most enjoyable things you can do. You control your life. JUST SAY NO.

    January 19, 2012 at 15:37 | Report abuse | Reply
  36. Mary Jane

    Consumerism is B.S. You don't need a house, car, trendy clothes, gadgets, stuff you don't need or hardly use. People work 40 + hours a week at jobs they don't like. Some people go into debt for all of these things. People work their whole lives so they can live and die in comfortable place to watch tv. Give it all up. And you will be liberated.

    Legalize Marijuana!

    January 19, 2012 at 15:40 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Pika

      Exactly. Owning a house is the most overrated concept that fooled me and haunts me day in and day out. I should have just followed my instincts and lived the simple life instead of stressing through school for 5 years to only get a job that stresses me out so I could buy a house that stresses me out. Don't do it kids, don't listen to your parents they are wrong.

      January 19, 2012 at 16:06 | Report abuse |
  37. Pika

    The dream is overrated. I would be much happier living in a small shack up in the mountains making enough to eat and heat my place than paying a mortgage every month, driving 40 miles to work at $3.50/gal, paying thousands to fix my truck to get to work, being on a salary freeze for the last 4 years, working 50 hours a week and being so tired when I'm not working to even enjoy life. Nobody cares that you have a nice car and a big house, it's a waste of time and resourcses.

    January 19, 2012 at 16:14 | Report abuse | Reply
    • Eyewatch

      It depends. If you ONLY work to eat and pay a mortgage, you'll be miserable. If you work at something you love and believe in, you may not always be without some stress, but your satisfaction and enjoyment of your achievements and contributions may offset the stress.

      If all you do is work to get through the day and collect your pay, with no satisfaction in the difference you make in the world, you're pretty shallow.

      January 19, 2012 at 17:48 | Report abuse |
  38. Billie

    I think we are so stressed out because we are so far removed from what is natural to humans. Instead of living in large social groups, we are isolated from each other and no longer have the support system we need to relieve stress. We live artificial lives which are concerned with things that ultimately have no meaning.

    January 19, 2012 at 19:38 | Report abuse | Reply
  39. Stace

    We're stressed because of an unending bad economy and an increased cost of living. Our society lives to work so we can buy more and more stuff that we do not need and ultimately do not fulfill us. But we keep doing it because it has been so ingrained in us that this is the path to happiness and fulfillment. I just finished reading "The Price of Materialism" and I now see why Americans are so deeply unhappy and unfulfilled.

    January 19, 2012 at 20:00 | Report abuse | Reply
  40. Steve-In-MA

    I think most of us are simply working too hard to have the time to relax.

    January 20, 2012 at 07:15 | Report abuse | Reply
  41. SoulCatcher

    We're working our jobs. We collect our pay. We believe we're gliding down the highway when in fact we are slip sliding away. Slip Sliding away, Slip sliding away. You know you're nearer your destination the more you slip sliding away.
    – Simon and Garfunkel

    What's really stressing out americans is the two wars.

    I am reading the book War and Peace (Just read the part abount Borodino) and also have read the Pennunsular War – both difficult books to read but well worth it because in the end you discover a lot about humanity and a detailed perspective on life.. War is more about just the leaders – It's about all the individuals involved. There is a profound human impact on it that can change us greatly

    January 20, 2012 at 09:29 | Report abuse | Reply
  42. supergeezer

    These are stressful times, for sure. Between the bad econony, a runaway federal government, and whatever personal issues we each have to deal with, it's easy to see why so many people are stressed out. It is a shame that one of the very best ways to deal with any stress is illegal and will be as long as the special interests whose bottom lines it would diminish can buy the votes to keep it illegal. But even the stress of possessing and using can nabis melts away after I use it.

    January 20, 2012 at 10:46 | Report abuse | Reply
  43. jj

    Thank God we can't see the future and know what will happen to us. I'm much happier not knowing. We need to take it one day at a time and enjoy life.

    January 20, 2012 at 18:52 | Report abuse | Reply
  44. Billie

    I think we are stressed out because we are so far removed from what is natural to humans. Instead of living in large social groups, we are isolated from each other and no longer have the support systems we need to relieve stress. We live artificial lives and are focused on things that ultimately have no meaning.

    January 20, 2012 at 18:57 | Report abuse | Reply
  45. Tholidor

    Forget the pseudo-scientific psycho babble. The real reason for escalating stress is the intentional fear mongering by the government which is constantly being foisted upon the populace by their managed media.

    Want less stress? Throw out your TV, cancel your subscriptions to news magazines and rely upon the alternative media for your information. It's very refreshing!

    January 21, 2012 at 11:13 | Report abuse | Reply
  46. IronCelt

    I would feel less stress if I had had the intellectual and social gifts necessary to have gotten a career/job that paid well and if I had not gotten a set of genes that gave me a genetic disease that's slowly eating my organs and that gave me a negative outlook that apparently indicates I'm not realistic, just clinically depressed. Guess I'd be on those psycho-pharms too if my organs weren't already too diseased.

    January 21, 2012 at 16:43 | Report abuse | Reply
    • amanda

      There is a huge difference between being stressed out and having traumatic events in your life... Thinking good thoughts for you. Hope you get some good news soon!

      January 30, 2012 at 03:07 | Report abuse |
  47. lu

    we refuse to learn the meaning of contentment. we remorse over the past, are afraid of the future and thus forget to live and in the present. we lack emotional control, thus we whine, whine and pay the price with a ledger of stress.

    January 23, 2012 at 01:43 | Report abuse | Reply
  48. A.Yeshuratnam (@rhetet)

    Psychological Association's annual survey reports that most Americans are stressed out. Yoga gurus exploit this situation by their false promise that yoga can cure stress. Yoga will not also arrest aging, as claimed by yoga gurus. The lifespan of yoga gurus is very short compared to people who do not practice yoga at all. Winston Churchill, for instance, a cigar-smoker, a non-vegetarian and who had never practiced yoga lived up to the ripe age of 90. Conversely, Vivekananda who practiced yoga regularly and even photographed in yogic postures (asanas) died at the young age of 33. Jeanne Louise Calment, the world's longest living person who died at the age of 122 had never practiced yoga. Her husband was a prosperous storeowner who offered her a life of ease revolving around tennis, bicycling, swimming, roller skating, piano and opera. She was a non-vegetarian, drank wine and ate a diet rich in olive oil. She used to eat two lbs. of chocolate per week until her doctor persuaded her to give up sweets at the age of 119. She quit smoking only at 119. It is a classical example to prove that vegetarian diet and yoga will never arrest aging. Tamil and Kannada Brahmins, for instance, are strict vegetarians, and their average lifespan is only 55. If modern drugs for diabetes and blood pressure had not been invented, they would probably die at the age of 35. Experience is a proof to affirm that yoga has not improved one’s health. Tennis players and other sportsmen agree that they are in excellent health because of their sports activities. Conversely, look at the yoga gurus ad swamis. . If yoga can give longevity, why the lifespan of Indians is very short, compared to Europeans? If yoga can give mental happiness and peace, why millions of Indians are wallowing in distress, anxiety, suffering and depression?

    January 25, 2012 at 02:24 | Report abuse | Reply
  49. Charmaine

    One of the most important points mentioned at the close of the article was how to get stress relief. We may not be able to eliminate stress from our lives, but it is up to each person to take responsibility for their own well being and health. Simple things like meditation, taking a walk, deep breathing or listening to relaxing music or watching relaxation videos can provide immediate, temporary stress relief. Recognizing the cause of stress AND TAKING ACTION to eliminate or reduce it will provide permanent relief. The key is to DO SOMETHING. Many corporations now recognize the health risks associated with stress and are beginning to implement stress relief programs and offer resources to their employees. If your company doesn't yet have one you might want to encourage them to look into it as it will help reduce the high cost of workers compensation claims. (If it helps their bottom line they will likely consider offering a stress reduction program).

    February 14, 2012 at 19:21 | Report abuse | Reply
  50. john

    Now I have a headache.

    March 1, 2012 at 06:23 | Report abuse | Reply
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Get a behind-the-scenes look at the latest stories from CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, Senior Medical Correspondent Elizabeth Cohen and the CNN Medical Unit producers. They'll share news and views on health and medical trends - info that will help you take better care of yourself and the people you love.