I thought I didn’t have a lot on, but working up disaster scenarios in my head – from the US election to the pandemic – is the closest I have come to a full-time job
The first Wednesday in November is national stress awareness day. This year, that was the day after the US elections – a sick joke that the organisers probably didn’t appreciate, being too busy taking a bath and exercising. It fell in the middle of a week dedicated internationally to stress awareness, which ends today, so you should feel free to go back to the way you were before: highly stressed, but oblivious to it. If you want to remain aware, the best way to measure cortisol, the primary stress hormone, is by analysing your earwax, according to a study from University College London’s Institute of Cognitive Neuroscience. Alternatively, you could count the unbelievably stupid things you have done over the week.
Stress is usually considered an internal state – something amiss in your mind that the outside world can perceive only by a slight squeak to your voice. (You might also get a stress headache, but only in an advert.) Really, though, it is where the internal meets the external that the problems start. Distraction, absent-mindedness: none of this would matter if you hadn’t also put your phone in the fridge and your wallet in the bin and set loose a cascade of errors to which catastrophic lateness for everything is the background music.