While people are mostly happy with their lives (see the article at right), modern civilization is not without its discontents. Conspicuous among these is stress. Maybe the cavemen felt stressed out, too. Nonetheless, we tend to see stress as a peculiarly modern affliction. A national poll by Family Circle examines the epidemic and its palliatives. Forty-five percent of respondents said they experience stress on a daily basis. The number jumps to 60 percent among those who have three kids or more. (The other 40 percent of those parents must be numb.) Asked to identify the one factor that causes them the most anxiety, a majority of respondents (58 percent) spoke of money woes. Another part of the poll asked respondents to identify their most comforting daily rituals. Reading garnered the most votes (cited by 53 percent of respondents), trailed by taking a shower (52 percent), drinking their morning coffee (41 percent), cooking (27 percent), exercising (22 percent) and doing the crossword puzzle (19 percent). While people obsess about weight, eating is also a popular way to ease anxiety. Chocolate is the favorite anti-stress treat (cited by 25 percent of those polled), followed by warm bread (19 percent) and ice cream (16 percent). As for ways to “kick back,” people would rather relax on a secluded beach (42 percent) than lie in a hammock watching the clouds float by (28 percent), gaze at the stars (15 percent) or hike in the woods (15 percent). As you can gather from the chart below, some times of year are more conducive than others to a sense of serenity.