The high cost of screwing up

USA TODAY reportsthat this ferschlugginer economic crisis is hitting us where it really hurts: in our bodies. They say if you have your health you have everything. Now, thanks to all those idiot risk managers, bankers, real estate brokers, and assorted members of the $500 million exit-package club, we won’t even have that.

Since last year, when the spectre of all this nonsense began spoiling our lunch, polls reveal that:

  • Irritability and anger is up 10% – some 60% of all respondents are more pissed off than they were last year;
  • Fatigue is up 2%, with more than half staying awake long enough to report a problem;
  • Sleeplessness is up 4%, which is a shame for all those fatigued people;
  • Unhealthful eating is up 5%, and why not? We have to enjoy something, don’t we?
  • Stress around relationships, family health problems, housing costs, personal health, job stability and of course money and the economy are also up, in some cases dramatically.

At the same time, the paper reports that 65% of all people now check their BlackBerry at least once an hour for their e-mail, with more than 40% dipping in every 30 minutes or less. I know what they’re talking about. It took me 20 minutes to write this and I checked my e-mail three times. Yes. I’m demented.

What do we do to manage this stress? As far as I can see, nothing fundamental is going to change any time soon, so management of the unacceptable, unpalatable and unpleasant becomes a crucial life issue.  Nothing seems to work very well – hence the climbing numbers in all negative categories – but solutions reportedly include:

  • Listening to music
  • Exercising
  • Reading
  • Sleeping
  • Watching TV
  • Drinking
  • Smoking
  • Going to religious services

It seems that more people go to their local church, synagogue, mosque or yurt (21%), than drink or smoke (18% and 16%, respectively). Of course, eating to reduce stress beats out all of those, at 34%. The effects of having a big sandwich with a couple or three frosty ones followed by a big, juicy Macanudo has yet to be ascertained. Want to join me?

Perhaps most interesting, in the end, is the fact that in spite of all the turmoil we are now experiencing on the macro scale, most Americans cite a thoroughly non-economic source as the top source of their stress. Can you guess what it is? Their spouse.

I find that kind of encouraging, don’t you?

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