Stress: I can’t stop thinking about this!

A few weeks ago I learned about what the healthcare community refers to as The Big Four.  These are the four behavioral concerns that drive cause and thus Cost in the healthcare system, and which lie at the heart of Wellness.

The Top Four Drivers of Chronic Disease and Healthcare Cost in the US

1. Food choices and Portion size
2. Tobacco
3. Physical Inactivity
4. Stress

The statistics, from a study conducted by the Cleveland Clinic and supported by meta-study of Global Medical Trends conducted by Towers Watson, show that:

  • Poor employee health habits is the leading factor driving medical cost in the US (and it’s the lowest factor globally!)
  • 75% of Chronic Disease in the US is driven or aggravated by combinations of these four factors
    and Chronic Disease accounts for:
  • 81% of hospital stays
  • 91% of prescription drugs, and
  • 76% of Office Visits

Now, I’m not a nutritionist, tobacco activist, or personal trainer/physical therapist… but I AM steeped in the conversation of leadership and positive emotion, and suddenly I’m seeing a whole new world of opportunity.
Because, you see, Stress management is at the heart of this. What do you do when you’re stressed?  You eat too much and the “wrong” stuff.  You light up.  You sit on your couch and watch the telly.  And what do you do when you overindulge in junk food, skip your walk, or start smoking?  You get more stressed.  It’s a self-fueling spiral.

Maybe now we can restart the conversation.
Instead of stress management, mindfulness activities, and self-care being “nice to have” tools for the marginally wierd, maybe… just maybe… the enormous expense that we can now associate with the Inability to Manage Stress will start to bring the conversation of happiness and responsible leadership into a whole new light.

Specifically, happier employeess COST LESS MONEY. and better leaders create HAPPIER EMPLOYEES.  Funny, when we speak of positive culture improving productivity, everybody SAYS they “get it”… but nothing changes.  I wonder what will happen as the conversation about the impact of Stress collides with the conversation about out-of-control healthcare expense at 20% of GDP?

I can’t stop thinking about this.  I’m still not sure what to do with it… but it feels huge.

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