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Review: The Inner Game of Stress: Outsmart Life's Challenges and Fulfill Your Potential

Ran across The Inner Game of Stress: Outsmart Life's Challenges and Fulfill Your Potential ($16 @ Amazon) at the the library, was feeling stressed so thought I’d read it. Was a mixed bag for me, some of it made sense, some of it I had a hard time with – just didn’t seem to fit my view of the world, you might find it a better match. But the interesting part…was interesting, and one part in particular stood out; a categorization of stress level that equated to having a fever. I won’t reprint the entire chart because it’s part of the book, but here’s my paraphrased section of it:

  • Temp = 98 – normal, life is good
  • Temp = 101 – moderate stress, feeling fatigued, responsibilities = burdens
  • Temp = 102 – very tired, can’t think clearly, one more thing might topple you

On the day I read this I felt like I was at 101. Not good, but not a trip to the doctor either. I think that’s a pretty useful way to view stress in terms of health. Are the mappings exactly right? I don’t know. Do most people live at a stress temperature of 98? Not sure either, but I still like the scale and think it’s good enough.

The part it doesn’t quite capture is that stress is variable. I can have a bad day and my stress goes up to 101, then back to normal over the weekend. On the other hand if I’m in the 102+ range, even if it goes back to normal (doubtful) it’s probably going to climb back up again more quickly and with provocation than it normally would.

Still, if you had a temp of 101, would you go to work or take the day off to recover?

The harder thing to learn is to handle things differently so your stress level doesn’t go up. I’m all for that, but in practice I’d rather start with a strategy for dealing with stress and then learn how to avoid or reduce it. The book covers some of that if you decide to give it a try.


I'm Andy Warren, currently a SQL Server trainer with End to End Training. Over the past few years I've been a developer, DBA, and IT Director. I was one of the original founders of SQLServerCentral.com and helped grow that community from zero to about 300k members before deciding to move on to other ventures.


Posted by Tim Mitchell on 26 September 2009

Interesting.  Seems that "calling in stressed" could be an acceptable response when things get really bad, considering what we now know about the effects of stress on the body and mind.  Unfortunately, it's usually those times of extreme stress where your full atttention is most needed, and so the cycle continues.

Posted by Andy Warren on 28 September 2009

I think that's exactly right. They call them "commitments" for a reason!

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