Last year, for National Stress Awareness Month, I published a series of articles here about how stress can be contagious. And I asked readers to vow not to pass their stress on to others for one day.

This year, for National Stress Awareness Day, I want to raise the stakes.

I want you to take that vow formally and publicly. I want you to invite your family and friends and coworkers to take the vow, too.  I want to see if we can create one day in the world that is noticeably less stressful … by taking responsibility for our stress and vowing not to pass it on. (See the end of this article for details.)

It’s really very simple.

When you are suffering from long-term, chronic stress, or just the repeated hassles and incivilities of modern life, you are more likely to make a mistake, drop the ball, kick the dog, blow a fuse. You are also more likely to be sleep-deprived, which makes the other effects of stress, already bad, much worse.

You are also more likely to be hypersensitive, quick to anger, abrupt with your children, or rude to some innocent stranger on the street who just happens to get in your way.

In other words, once you get stressed, if you don’t release that stress quickly and effectively, you are very likely to contribute to someone else’s stress. This is what I call “stresscalation”-- the way in which we pass our stress on to other people, often unwittingly.

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It is so easy to get stressed these days. Watching the news makes you stressed. Checking the weather makes you stressed. Then there are the thousand shocks you must bear just in going about your daily life: You are driving and someone cuts you off. Your boss barks at you. All the salespeople are surly. You can’t reach a human on the phone. Just before the deadline, your computer crashes.

But it doesn't stop there.