Stress has been in the news as a health epidemic since the early eighties and the situation continues to get worse as a growing number of workers report they are suffering increasing stress in the workplace. Indeed work now provides the main environment for the development of stress among American adults. But stress levels have also risen for children in recent years and many people believe that this is linked to a loss of family and religious values, isolation, insufficient social support and corporate greed.
Nowadays, stress is much more dangerous than it was only ten years ago and appears to be more widespread and more invasive than before with much greater stress coming from psychological rather than physical threats.
Stress contributes to a raised heart rate and increased flow of blood in turn creating a higher blood pressure. Levels of blood sugar also increase to provide the body with the added fuel that it requires to fight stress and our body is programmed to move blood away from the stomach when we are under stress to provide extra strength for our legs and arms as part of what is frequently called our "fight or flight" response.
Stress can also contribute to chronic depression and anxiety together with skin and gastrointestinal problems and interferes with the work of several of our major organs. It can also cause impairment of the immune system that cannot fight viral conditions from the common and not especially serious cold to serious conditions like AIDS and cancer.
Stress at work directly influences such things as productivity and absenteeism and the business climate worsens little by little with competition nowadays at an all-time high. The pressure which is placed upon workers to produce and the constant concern about job security can lead to a number of conditions including back pain, neck pain, stroke, hypertension, ulcers, diabetes and heart attacks.
All sorts of things can create stress including just sitting in front of a computer for seven hours each day or more, meeting targets or having someone continually monitoring you. In this case the results are typically seen as depression and several physical complaints that give rise to lost work time.
Taking the steps to manage the stress you have in your life may be the best gift you can give yourself and just a few simple changes to your lifestyle can make a huge difference to the way in which you handle stress. For example, taking only 20 minutes each day to walk will reduce your stress as will talking to friends and colleagues, prayer and meditation and following a healthy diet. Take the time needed to learn a few methods of relaxation because breathing and relaxation exercises can do a great deal to reduce your stress levels.