The Cost of Stress

Is it possible to live a stress free life in this hassle and bustle world? Unless you purposely not to let yourself be stressed by the surrounding people and things, it is difficult to have a stress free life. Frankly, a little stress is good as it spur you to do your job a little better. Unfortunately, many people who experience excessive stress fall sick and incur high medical expenses. Most of them are diagnosed with sickness that needs long-term treatment.

Many studies have shown that chronic stress is one of the contributing factors that lead to cancer. Author Dr Teresa Aubele, in her book, Train Your Brain To Get Happy mentioned that: ‘Chronic stress kills….literally. It’s been widely shown to have disastrous physical effects, but did you know that chronic stress also diverts energy from your brain(fog up your mind), shrinks your hippocampus (slows memory and learning), and compromises neurotransmitters(limiting joy and plasticity), and even emits toxins that attack your brain? …… stress eats your brain!’

Have you ever wondered why many people, especially youngsters suffered from irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) nowadays? People who have experienced bloated stomach, cramp, nausea, gastric re-flux can tell you the agony of IBS that rob them of the joy of living. This is the result of stress induced sickness. To determine the real cause of the problem, the specialist would recommend the patient to go for an endoscopy and colonoscopy test. How I knew all these? My daughter is a victim of excessive stress. Last year, she embarked on her first job after graduating from her degree course. She was responsible for the sales and marketing in a company that run specialized courses. However, after a few months on the job she was loaded with extra responsibility. In addition to her sales/ marketing and administrative work, she was required to handle some of the consultancy department’s tasks as well. As she does not have the relevant industry knowledge, she have difficulty coping. To make matter worst, her immediate boss did not give her training. He merely asked her to read old records, follow the format and submit tender for projects. She was told to seek help from any of the senior consultants when needed. Unfortunately, her senior consultant colleagues were not helpful. She was under tremendous stress.

When she experienced cramp and chest pain at work last year, I advised her to go to the hospital immediately. She went to the Emergency ward for check-up as the pain was intense. She was hospitalized and warded for six days on the same day. She was given four weeks of hospitalization leaves to rest at home. Upon her returned to work, her consultancy tasks was removed, however, it was replaced with Operational responsibility.    Although the work load was somewhat the same, she was able to cope with it. It was a wake-up call for her. Since then, she slowed down and learn to relax at work.

What is the cost of keeping a highly stressful job that robs you of your health and the time to be with your family and friends? Think about it!  Most of us tend to accumulate material stuff when we have a little more money. We justify for our needs. It is common to hear someone saying: “I work so hard for the money. I think I deserve to pamper myself and my family with some luxury things.” We convinced ourselves that we need to move to a bigger house, buy a new car, buy the latest model mobile phone, go for expensive holidays; or buy a much coveted yacht. Some of us may think that we need to reward ourselves and indulge in living luxuriously. I understand you need to motivate yourself to work and indulge in some luxurious things in life. However, it is wiser to live within your means and not to sabotage your retirement saving plans. If you live within your means and have saving set aside, you can choose to quit your stressful job anytime without fear of no money to for your bills. What is the point of having lots of money, but you don’t have the health to enjoy your wealth.

Learn to de-stress and live in good health. It is meaningless to be successful and rich; but loses your health in the process. Don’t do anything that is detrimental to your health. If you are a heavy smoker/alcohol drinker, quit and live healthily. You could save a lot of money by quitting these undesirable habits. You may join a support group in your neighbourhood or seek professional helps to quit these bad habits. Alternatively, pray and trust Jesus to perform miracles in you to help you kick the bad habits. Have faith in Him and believe that miracle exists and He is well capable of doing the impossible. Jesus said in Matthew 19:26: “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” (NKJV) You will understand what I mean if you were to go to this website: You will get to read countless of life transforming stories in this website.

When you quit these bad habits, replace it with other healthy ones. You may consider taking up a sport, start exercising, learn a new language, do volunteering work, start a blog to share your life experiences or anything that is good for your body, mind and soul.

How to de-stress?

Prioritize your work – It is important to prioritize and keep track of the deadline at work. Do the important and urgent task first. Prioritize them according to its importance and urgency. Leave the less important and less urgent tasks at the bottom of your list. Prioritizing your work helps you to manage your stress better.

Exercise. Our bodies need to work out in order to stay healthy. Simple exercise like taking a stroll or brisk walk does wonder to de-stress. There are at least 7 benefits which you can get from regular physical exercise listed in this website – Remember to go for a walk even if you don’t feel like it, especially when you are stressed. Perhaps you may come up with ideas to solve your work problem while walking!

Have enough sleep. My daughter would sleep more whenever she is stressed. She would sleep early during the week and store up her sleep ‘bank’ with more than 7 hours of sleep during the weekends. She usually has insufficient sleep during the weekdays and she gets tired easily. 

Most adults need about 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night; depending on individual. We tend to need less sleep as we age, although some adults still continue to need more. If you are feeling sleepy in the day, it means that you have insufficient sleep. According to the website –; sleep deprivation can lead to fatigue, learning and concentration difficulties and accidents. I think these effects may cause stress as well since they affect our mental capacity to focus at work.

Personally, I feel that our brain needs to rest after working the whole day. If we choose not to sleep, we are depriving our brain of its need for rest. Just like a machine, our brain works 16 hours a day, processes thousands of information. The brain needs at least 7 to 8 hours of downtime to rest so that it does not get ‘overheated’ and breakdown. 

I believe sleep deprivation is one of the contributing factors for brain tumor/cancer that claim the life of my husband; although I cannot find a scientific study to support my point. The other contributing factor could be due to stress derived from his mountain of financial debts. For many years, my deceased husband was stressed by his mountain of debts. He would sleep for only four to five hours a night as he had insomnia. He killed time by staying up late until the wee hours to do his ‘work’ – serving the nets, watching television programs and reading. Even when his debts repayment was well managed, he continued with his nocturnal activities. He ignored my warning on the health risks caused by sleep deprivation. He continued to live like a nocturnal creature for at least ten years until he fell sick and died of brain cancer.

I strongly believe that it is crucial for everyone to have sufficient sleep in order to maintain good immune system and remain focus at work. Have you noticed that you catch a cough and cold easily whenever you lack of sleep for a period of time?

Take short breaks. It is good to take short breaks to relieve work fatigue at work. Tea breaks and lunch breaks are essential. By merely walking away from your desk to get a cup of drink helps to take your mind away from work.

Watch out for time eaters. Some colleagues tend to drop-by in your cubicle for a chat. Telephone calls, emails, twitters, LinkedIn, Facebook and WhatsApp are the main culprits that distract and rob you of your time. It is easy to allow these distractions to delay your work and get stress when you couldn’t meet deadline. Set aside time for emails and other social media websites. Screen your telephone calls and keep small talks with colleagues for lunch break.

Don’t allow others to give you stress. How? If you are doing a few persons’ jobs, there is no way you can attend to so many “urgent & important” tasks simultaneously. Hence, the only thing you could do is to go directly to your boss and ask him what he deems the most urgent/important out of the numerous tasks in your hands. Let him decides if feels that all the tasks are important. Most likely he would take some of your tasks and pass it to another staff if he thinks that all the tasks are important. Otherwise, tell him the truth that you could not manage and seek for his understanding if you can’t deliver on time. It is unwise to remain silent and suffer from intense stress just because your boss gives you unreasonable deadlines to meet.


We are born into this world to live and experience life. While we need money to live and enjoy a comfortable life, we should not put our body through excessive stress that cause our health to deteriorate. We are here on earth first to live; and then we work to support our living. Not the other way round! If we are not careful, we may allow work to define our identity. We should not allow our title at work to define who we are. In the midst of your pursuit for success, recognition, fame and money; remember to take care of your intangible assets- body, mind and soul. These intangible assets of yours are priceless as no money in the world can buy a replacement when it breakdown.

If the work environment is giving you stress related illness, then it is time to consider quitting and look for greener pasture. At the time of writing this article, my daughter has already submitted her resignation letter after working in this ‘toxic’ company for more than a year.  It is not wise to work in a company that causes your health to deteriorate even though it pays you well.












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