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A Stressful Life Isn't a New Concept
How can we stop repeating history?
While technology seems to have speeded up our lifestyle, the relationship between stress and work is not a new notion. It seems the solutions for dealing with stress haven’t changed much, judging by a Chicago (U.P.) newspaper article from the wartime 1940’s that I came across in going through my husband’s old family mementos. His grandfather was a high executive with General Mills from its founding years, and my husband’s grandmother had cut out a clipping summarizing a conference session for the nation’s “top industrial executives” by Dr. Walter Alvarez of the Mayo clinic, titled “The Care and Feeding of Executives.”
Some of the phrasing may seem quaint, but I thought it was intriguing how little advancement we have made in our personal lives as far as controlling stress. The ideas put forth in that presentation and recounted in the article are still just as valid now, and so I’d like to share ways to manage stress in our world today, using the style of the ‘40s.
Dr. Alvarez cautioned that the high-powered American business executive must get more rest and watch his waistline or suffer dire consequences. Every able executive in industry is a national asset that must be conserved in this wartime period of stress.
A busy executive drives hard at his work from nine in the morning to late at night six days a week, holds telephone contact with scores of men in numerous cities and even uses his meal time for dinner engagements to make influential friends. And on those few occasions when he does go out to play a little, he will probably get too tense over that, play golf for $100 a hole or stay up all night playing poker for high stakes.
The executive often eats too much, smokes too much and wears himself out in emotional outbursts against employes (sic). He spoke of a “choleric old millionaire” who, when he was angry with a man, sometimes threw him out of his office through the glass door.
The mortality of executives and other over-burdened brainworkers and the incidence of serious degenerative diseases among them, appear to be considerably higher than they are among men who work with their hands. Disturbing emotion leads to formation in the body of a number of powerful druglike substances which produce troublesome symptoms. Emotion can also produce spasm in small arteries, injuries to the heart, brain, kidneys, stomach and joints.
The symptoms of impending nervous breakdown are general impaired health and lack of energy, insomnia, irritability and impatience, ill humor, “jittery spells” and wildly throbbing heart.
1. Slow down.
2. Take a month’s vacation or at least short, frequent rest periods.
3. Delegate authority to others.
4. If you cannot sleep, take a soporific.
5. Don’t smoke or drink too much.
6. If you play, don’t play too intensely.
7. Do not get angry.
8. If you are gaining weight, avoid fats and sugars.
9. If your heart muscles are not good, walk and live at a slower pace.
Now if we all would follow that advice, maybe 65 years from now someone will not be reading one of our present-day articles about stress management and thinking how apropos it is for their time.
Copyright © 2009 Key Organization Systems, Inc. All rights reserved.
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