I just got introduced to a fascinating study from the early 1980’s that may help us answer the question.
Dr. Kenneth Pelletier and a team from the University of California at San Francisco looked at top executives at Bank of America and AT&T to learn the effects of high stress when these businesses experienced extreme changes.
About 20% of employees became ill during this stressful period. And 5% of the 20% actually died.
However, they also found a number of people who made it through the experience in good health and even thrived.
Among the “thrivers”, they found 14 common factors. The thrivers…
1) Saw life as a challenge to be met rather than a problem, threat or nightmare
2) Were committed to action: taking risks, getting involved. They also had an internal committment to their values and did not let go of commitments to family or exercise.
3) Felt like they had more control over their experience.
4) Had both social support at home and at work.
5) Recognized the value in relaxing on a regular basis.
6) Had some sort of exercise program.
7) Tended to eat breakfast.
8) Were more conscious of what they ate throughout their day.
9) Kept regular eating patterns during increased stress.
10) Took vitamin supplements.
11) Did not use more alcohol under stress.
12) Most never smoked or had quit.
13) Maintained their regular sleep habits.
14) Used humor toward themselves and enjoyed telling stories.
So what can we learn from this study and how can we apply it to our own lives?
What I learned is that Attitude and how we treat ourselves is such an important factor in determining health. And with this we do have a CHOICE.
Here are some questions for you to consider…
How do I meet challenges? How do I deal with problems? What do I do when life gets too stressful? Do I have support in my life? Do my eating habits support me psychologically to handle stress? Do I take life too seriously?
Join the thrivers- and sail through times of stress with your life intact.