Being a well-known celebrity, famous politician or businessman/woman may be exciting but it also brings with it a whole exclusive set of stressors. Imagine having the media camped outside your door on a daily basis and not being able to go to the supermarket to shop. Being shown to your chauffeur-driven car on a 24/7 basis may seem like a great deal but how nice it is to just get in your car and drive off yourself for the weekend, by slipping quietly away with your family.
So how do the rich and famous cope with their celebrity status? Some actually cope remarkably well. Royal families grow up with privilege and are taught how to handle it from an early age but the modern-day celebrity pop star or champion golfer is often thrown into the limelight with little or no warning. Initially hungry for the publicity, they thrive on it but after a while there is undoubtedly a longing for the privacy that anonymity brings. Constantly having to smile, sign autographs and be at your best, can be extremely tiring and often tedious, which is why we see the rich and famous often disappear behind dark shades!
The temptation to be seen as a rebel and to be someone different and unique is there in the background, as also is the need to find a method of coping with the constant pressure of being a public figure. Sometimes, just spending money on an expensive designer dress or a new 4x4 may help but, unfortunately, all too often the stars of today turn to addiction — to substance abuse.
Addiction takes many forms and those involved may be very secretive in order to remain unnoticed. Those who gamble can be very effective at concealing their weakness but with drug and alcohol abuse, the effects are eventually impossible to hide. The media can seize upon every mistake, every error, every picture taken in an unguarded moment to emerge as a front page story around the world. Then is when reputations that have been carefully built up over many years can be destroyed in an instant.
The images of the late, and talented, Whitney Houston, are an all too sad reflection of how relentless the press can be in charting the downfall of a celebrity. How much better it would be if we could remember this great singer for her beautiful voice and not for her indiscretions and ultimate failure. The price of fame is high indeed and without adequate support to manage the inevitable stress, the results can be tragic. The sad demise of Michael Jackson, last year, was another tragic example of one who eventually just could not cope without recourse to drugs.
Stress is the reaction we experience when we cannot cope with the pressure in our lives. For those in the harsh glare of the media spotlight, they have to be constantly on guard in all that they say and do. Many stars and public figures try to protect their families by placing an embargo on the media writing in detail about them.
Adequate rest and relaxation away from the public eye is an important component of stress management. When money is not an issue, privacy can sometimes be bought. Anyone in the public eye needs time away from the cameras because it is essential to take advantage of "me time" to enjoy the simple pleasures of life.
Effective time management is another important issue both for businessmen and celebrities alike. Leaving enough time between appointments and performances allows the body and mind time to recover from the surges of adrenalin that public performances inevitably require. Time to rest and reflect is a valuable tool in dealing with the stress of fame.
Living one's life in the spotlight can be at once both exhilarating and depressing, as the public constantly demands that your life be a part of theirs. It's part of the price of fame and fortune. But sometimes health and happiness cannot be bought with money and they often elude the most famous of our icons. And I loved you also, Whitney Houston. Rest in peace.
The author is a BBC guest broadcaster and motivational speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management consultancy and her new book, Show Stress Who's Boss! is available in all bookshops.
Remember: You can't buy joy
- Life in the public glare is stressful.
- Fame can bring its own problems.
- Even celebrities cannot buy happiness!