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Don’t wear stress as a ‘badge of honour’

When did being busy and stressed become such a badge of honour? When did we start competing over who has more on their plate? And when did we start using “busy” and “stress” as an excuse for inconsiderate and downright rude behaviour?

All questions asked by Leandra Brady-Walker in her latest blog on, after she heard her clients, friends and even the checkout lady utter those ubiquitous words: “I’m just so busy and stressed.”

Leandra describes how people telling her they’re busy and that this is leading them to become stressed ‘gets her goat’, as if this stress somehow makes them more important or more efficient at their job. As a doctor, she explains why this sort of approach is definitely the wrong way to go.

“When we are under stress, our bodies release the stress hormone called cortisol. Cortisol helps our body deal with the clear and present danger we are facing, like say…a man-eating tiger. To do that, it dials down the systems we don’t require (like our immune, reproductive and digestive systems) to combat the clear and present danger in front of us and mobilise energy stores from fat. In small doses, it’s great for us. It keeps us alive and gives us what we need, when we need it, to get through stressful situations.”

So in the absence of tigers in the office – man-eating or otherwise – our stressors tend to be much more slow-burning. Deadlines, clients, contracts – the longer and more consistent the stress is, the longer cortisol stays in the system, which in turn means our immune systems and other non-essential systems are continually suppressed.

According to Leandra, too much cortisol in our system:

– damages the cells in the brain that are responsible for long term memory formation

– reduces bone formation, predisposing us to osteoporosis

– increases blood pressure by making us more sensitive to adrenaline

– produces an increase in appetite and cravings for fatty and sugary foods.

To put it bluntly, stress is making us considerably less healthier than we should be – and therefore not the successful go-getters we want to be.

Leandra finishes by saying: “There are so many ways to manage your stress – now is the time to stop the glorification of busy. Stop wearing stress as some sort of medal and stop measuring our self-worth and success by how little downtime we have. Because guess what? We’re usually too busy to listen to your complaining anyway…”

Sound advice, Leandra…

Read the blog entry in full at