Friday, January 14, 2011

The Science of Stress

If you follow me on Twitter, you might already know that I recently signed up for Netflix and am currently enjoying my free trial. a few night ago, my husband and I watched a documentary called The Science of Stress. I learned a few things I wanted to share with all of you.

The documentary compared the stress humans experience with the stress other animals--monkeys, of course--face. Scientists have noticed a connection between hierarchical societies and stress. Meaning the most dominant monkeys have less peer-induced stress than than passive monkeys because, basically, the big guys pick on the smaller, weaker guys. We know that stress adversely affects the health of the monkeys in the study because the dominant monkeys live longer, have less build up in arteries, and are in overall better health.

The scientists in the documentary drew parallels (based on a different study) between the dominant monkeys and the people at the top of the totem pole in the office (the CEOs and upper management-types). The more power a person had in his office environment, the better his overall health.

I have a few issues with the research as it was presented. There has to be more at play here than just stress, right? Besides, don't we usually think of the top management jobs as the MOST stressful because of the huge responsibility and longer hours?

What I took away from it is this: 1. Stress drastically impacts our health and well-being, so it's important to find a way to manage stress (ahem, yoga). 2. Your outlook on life is more important than your career, environment, or station in life. As the scientist in the documentary said (and I'm paraphrasing here): You could be at the bottom of the hierarchy, but the captain of the company softball team. If you decide that's more important to you than your time in the office, you're playing by a different set of rules.

Besides yoga, how do you manage stress?