We’ve been told the economy is improving, but why are things not getting better for many Americans? Will we ever go back to what we had before 2007?  Will we have a new normal? Jobs are still hard to find and still more people are being laid off. This stress is real and is not over. Also for people that do have jobs, stress is a significant part of their lives. Stress is also a concern for employers, costing U.S. businesses an estimated $300 billion per year through absenteeism, diminished productivity, employee turnover and direct medical, legal and insurance fees. Stress can significantly affect physical health. A recent survey found 75% of respondents have experienced physical symptoms as a result of stress, such as headache, fatigue, and an upset stomach in combination with feelings of irritability, anger, nervousness, and lack of motivation. The stress people are experiencing also comes from the pressures of today's fast paced connected world. Americans are finding it increasingly difficult to switch off from the stresses of the workplace and concentrate on their personal priorities with cell phones, Blackberries, laptops, etc. that are so portable and go everywhere with us. Over half of respondents said that job demands interfered with family or home responsibilities. Increased stress can lead to using unhealthy coping behaviors such as smoking, comfort eating, poor diets, inactivity and drinking alcohol. It can lead to a compromised immune system, obesity, pre-mature aging and Alzheimer’s. Give yourself a break and de-stress everyday so your stress does not become chronic. Go for a walk, exercise, meditate, take a bath or talk to a friend. Yours in good health, Linda Hlivka Clinical Nutritionist