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The Big Picture
Rebecca "Becky" Coates Nee, a veteran TV news anchor/reporter, is a professional life/career coach. Check out her website at to take the coachability test, subscribe to her free "Beyond the Box" newsletter and to find out if you're an adrenaline junkie.

What's the State of Your Stress?
By Rebecca Coates Nee
August 20th, 2001

What do a TV news reporter in California, a stay-at-home mom in Florida and a PR executive in New York have in common?

They all have a case of the "terrible toos." Too much to do. Too little time. Too confused. Too tired. Too stressed.

No matter what type of client I coach, stress is usually their biggest symptom. In fact, if you're not stressed these days - you're heavily medicated or living with the Amish.

The latest census data confirms the sources of our stress. We may have more money and more education than ever before, but we've also got bigger houses, more cars, longer commutes and more hours to work to pay for it all.

Indeed, most of us have gotten so familiar with stress that we get kind of lonely without it. If our jobs, family or friends don't provide enough of it, we'll find a way to bring it on.

People working in TV news generally don't have to worry about a shortage of stress. Our stories, viewers and supervisors are more reliable suppliers than PG&E.

So are all broadcasters destined for early heart attacks, high blood pressure or unhappy lives? Not necessarily. The latest theory on stress is that there's good stress and bad stress. Kind of like good debt (mortgage and education) and bad debt (luxury cars and Bruno Magli shoes).

Good stress can motivate and energize us - provided we channel it correctly. Bad stress can drive us insane.

To determine the state of your stress, answer these questions true or false:
1) I'm pretty tired when I go to bed and sleep soundly.
2) I have so many things I want to get done, there doesn't seem to be enough time in the day.
3) I sometimes wonder if I'm qualified enough to do the work that I do.
4) I have so many ideas I want to work on - I'm not sure how to prioritize them.
5) I still get a little nervous when I'm working on a big story or project.
6) I have no energy when I wake up in the morning and I get even more tired during the day
7) I get a knot in my stomach when I walk into work
8) I can't stand my boss and many of my co-workers
9) I have no life outside of work
10) I frequently lose things, break things, injure myself or get sick.

Questions 1-5 are examples of good stress while 6-10 are signs of bad stress. For example, someone who feels under-qualified may still be challenged by their job. Someone who has no energy is probably more drained by their job than challenged. If you have more bad stress than good - it's time to wake up and make some major changes in your life or career.