I think we are all familiar with stress; the feeling of strain and pressure or the overwhelming feelings of anxiety and irritability- in fact it has become pretty normal in everyday life to feel stressed at some point during each day, even if it is just a minor irritation which is the catalyst. Stress is caused by the gulf between what you would like to be happening and what is actually happening, or to use the Urban Dictionary’s more eloquent description: “The confusion caused when ones mind overrides the body’s natural desire to choke the living shit out of some asshole that desperately needs it.” I don’t ever remember my parents or grandparents complaining they were “stressed.” Feeling “stressed out” seemed to become fashionable when I was a teenager, chiefly caused by exam pressures or failure to date a pop star as I recall.

Everybody knows that a stressful event triggers the ‘fight or flight’ response, causing adrenaline and cortisol to surge through the body. A little bit of stress can be exciting helping to keep us active and alert. But long-term stress can have detrimental effects on health.The Mail Online today reported that the stress factor is costing the UK £10 billion a year: Eight million Britons suffer from an anxiety disorder. What kind of life have we created when so many of us are suffering from the effects of stress. Is life really so stressful today or it is that we handle it badly? Until the turn of the millennium, stress was considered a major problem only after a life crisis such as you might experience following trauma, illness, moving house, redundancy, divorce, death of a loved one or other major life event.But then I think expectations were lower (ie more realistic) and the pace of life was much slower.Everybody seemed to have more time and the pace of life was slower. Multi-tasking then became the new buzzword and there is constantly something to do; emails, phone calls, texts, bills to deal with; a never-ending stream of communication which often brings no pleasure or fulfilment and takes one away from enjoying the moment now.”We’ve reached the point that many people are under such relentless time pressures and in constant motion that an increasing number are on overload, overwhelmed and even burned out. We have difficulty keeping our energy levels up and building and sustaining our resilience. Instead of addressing today’s stress, most people focus on the ailments and diseases caused by persistent stress”

Long-term stress can play havoc with your immune system, raising the odds of developing viral infections. Other research found that people who suffered from chronic stress at work were at greater risk of developing metabolic syndrome, which is a combination of diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity.It is easy to see why many medics believe stress could be the next public health crisis. It is difficult to participate in the modern world and not experience stress, perhaps it is time the government ditched promoting “hard work” and pushed for us all to be more idle, insisting on siestas and hour-long coffee breaks. Just think of the savings in the long term.

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