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'The Business of Health Care Report'

Curb the Cost of Stress: Take a Break
05/12/2008

Click to listen to this taped broadcast.

I'm Doug Hawthorne, CEO of Texas Health Resources, with "The Business of Health Care Report."

May is Mental Health Month, and I'd like to encourage employers and employees alike to take a deep breath and relax.

It's easy to get so wrapped up in our work that we forget to take stress-relieving breaks during the workday or find time on our calendars for a vacation. Wouldn't you rather take time off to relax than spend your vacation days recovering from a stress-related illness?

A recent survey by Harris Interactive revealed that Americans are giving back 438 million unused vacation days each year, an average of three days per person. That translates to $60 billion worth of free labor given back to employers annually.

Sound good for employers? Not really, because U.S. companies spend $200 billion a year - more than three times as much - on stress and stress-related illnesses.

Stress has been linked to high blood pressure, diabetes, sleep loss, headaches, tooth grinding, back pain, digestive problems, anxiety and depression. And the only way to minimize the negative effects of stress is to reduce the stress itself.

At Texas Health, we have mindfulness chimes that go off twice a day at all of our hospitals to remind everyone to take a moment and reflect.

So do yourself and your workplace a favor: take stress-relieving breaks during the workday. And use your vacation time to relax, rejuvenate, and put things in perspective. If our workforce is healthier, everyone benefits.

For our faith-based hospitals - Texas Health Presbyterian, Texas Health Harris Methodist and Texas Health Arlington Memorial - I'm Doug Hawthorne.

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