Saturday, February 28, 2009

The Biggest Health Problem Today? Stress

Stress has been in the news as a health epidemic since the
early eighties and this situation continues to worsen as an
increasing number of workers say that they are suffering
increasing stress in the workplace. Indeed work is now the
leading environment for the development of stress in adult
Americans. However levels of stress have also been rising
for children in the past few years and many people now link
this to a loss of religious and family values, isolation,
insufficient social support and simple corporate greed.

Nowadays, stress is far more of a danger than it was just
ten years ago and looks to be more extensive and more
invasive than ever with a lot more stress coming from
psychological instead of physical threats.

Stress causes a rise in heart rate and greater blood flow
leading to higher blood pressure. Levels of blood sugar also
increase to give the body the extra fuel which it needs to
fight stress, and the body is designed to push blood away
from the stomach when we are stressed in order to provide
extra strength for the legs and arms as part of what is
often called our "flight or fight" response.

Stress contributes to anxiety and chronic depression
together with skin and gastrointestinal problems, and
interferes with the workings of a lot of the body's major
organs. It can also create an impairment of the immune
system, which cannot shake off viral disorders from the not
particularly serious cold to very serious diseases such as
AIDS and cancer.

Stress in the workplace directly influences such things as
employee absenteeism and productivity and the business
climate progressively worsens with competition today at an
all-time high. The pressure placed upon employees to produce
and the continual concern about job security can produce a
number of conditions including neck pain, back pain, stroke,
hypertension, diabetes, ulcers and heart attacks.

All sorts of things can create stress including just sitting
in front of a computer for six hours every day or more,
meeting deadlines or having somebody continually monitoring
you. In this case the results are frequently seen as
depression and a range of physical ailments which give rise
to lost work time.

Taking the steps to manage the stress in your life may well
be the nicest gift you can give yourself and just a few
quite simple alterations to your lifestyle can make a big
difference to how you handle stress. For instance, taking
just 20 minutes out of your day to walk will lower your
level of stress as will talking to other people, prayer and
meditation and following a healthy diet. Take the time
necessary to master a few relaxation techniques because deep
breathing and relaxation exercises can do a great deal to
reduce your level of stress.
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