Hello Internet;

On Saturday i participated in a discussion on "Stress and Pressure " during my business training with Catapult. We discussed how constantly working long hours doesn't equate to quality of work or promote healthy living and creativity. This is very important to anyone in any field. I also found out my experience wasn't as solitary as I thought.

When I was 21 I worked 3 jobs, maintained theatre, had a social life, volunteered and was overloading in university. I was on my way to debate at Harvard and had also found out that I was accepted into a school in Japan. This wasn't abnormal and it was a lifestyle I was accustomed to. I assumed that I was one of the few people who could manage to continue being that busy. I was wrong. No one can maintain that lifestyle. I burnt out.

I remember taking my first day off in months. I was so tired that I called in sick to work while crying at my dining table. That turned into not being able to get off the couch for 9 days. Next, my reproductive system shut down for 3 months. Then I would sleep for long periods of the day and I could barely eat. I went to the hospital again and they told me it was caused by stress. Of course, I didn't believe them. There was no way stress could do that to me.

The doctors were right. My medical opinion does not trump theirs. I cut my workload in half and took some time for myself. Since then I have been able to recognize when my body is overworked.

I thought that my situation was unique until Saturday. It turns out that other participants of the program had physical reactions to continued stress as well. It was mind-boggling to me that I haven't discussed it before, and why more people aren't talking about it!

I'm now 24 and have graduated with a BA and I'm often working in university settings. I realized how the culture of the university isn't cultivating curiosity, its cultivating competition. No one can operate at such a high level and expect to be unaffected. When I come across students who seem overwhelmed by their situations I warn them to take time for themselves, but I very rarely discuss the mental and physical toll it took on my body.

I thought that this morning I would open up about this. Universities will be getting ready for exams in the next month and I want to remind people to take some time to recharge before jumping back into the busy season.

here is a list of just 3 of the suggested readings from Catherine Doucette, the facilitator of Saturdays programming.

  1. The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor

  2. Shift Happens: How to Live an Inspired Life…Starting Right Now!, Dr. Robert Holden

  3. Performing Under Pressure, The Science of Doing Your Best When It Matters Most, Institute for Health and Human Potential.

visit www.CatherineDoucette.com for more information or potential training sessions for your staff.

Laura-Beth Bird

Photo from Harvard Model UN. Laura-Beth Bird

Photo from Harvard Model UN. Laura-Beth Bird