Comments like “I’m worried sick” convey the conventional wisdom that being “stressed out” will harm our health. Thousands of academic studies reveal that stressful life events (like a job loss), ongoing strains (like burdensome caregiving duties), and even daily hassles (like traffic jams on the commute to work) affect every aspect of our physical and emotional well-being. Cutting through a sea of scientific research and theories, Worried Sick answers many questions about how stress gets under our skin, makes us sick, and how and why people cope with stress differently. Included are several standard stress and coping checklists, allowing readers to gauge their own stress levels.
We have all experienced stressful times—maybe a major work deadline or relocating cross-country for a new job—when we came out unscathed, feeling not only emotionally and physically healthy, but better than we did prior to the crisis. Why do some people withstand adversity without a scratch, while others fall ill or become emotionally despondent when faced with even a seemingly minor hassle? Without oversimplifying the discussion, Deborah Carr succinctly provides readers with key themes and contemporary research on the concept of stress. Understanding individuals’ own sources of strength and vulnerability is an important step toward developing personal strategies to minimize stress and its unhealthy consequences. Yet Carr also challenges the notion that merely reducing stress in our lives will help us to stay healthy. Many of the stressors that we face in everyday life are not our problems alone; rather, they are symptoms of much larger, sweeping problems in contemporary U.S. society.
To readers interested in the broad range of chronic, acute, and daily life stressors facing Americans in the twenty-first century, as well as those with interest in the many ways that our physical and emotional health is shaped by our experiences, this brief book will be an immediate and quick look at these significant issues.
View a three minute video of Deborah Carr speaking about Worried Sick.
About the Author
DEBORAH CARR is a professor of sociology at Rutgers University and a faculty member at the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research. Her work focuses on dying and end-of-life issues and the effects of family-related stressors on health and well-being. She is the author and editor of numerous works, such as Encyclopedia of the Life Course and Human Development (2009) and Spousal Bereavement in Later Life (2006).
Table of Contents
1 Introduction: What Is Stress?
2 Sweating the Small (and Big) Stuff: How and Why Stress Affects Our Mental Health
3 Under Our Skin: How and Why Stress Affects Our Physical Health
4 Why Some Crumble and Others Bounce Back: Risk and Resilience in the Face of Stress
5 Paths to Healing: Strategies for Overcoming Life’s Stressors