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Last Updated: Thursday, 12 January 2006, 01:26 GMT
IT stresses 'driving UK to drink'
Computer keyboard
The frustration of a crashing computer is a very modern cause of stress
The modern annoyances of automated call centres, mobile phones and crashing computers are driving people to alcohol and cigarettes, a survey suggests.

The poll by UK charity Developing Patient Partnerships showed more than a third of men and a quarter of women have a drink to cope with stress.

Of the 1,000 people polled, 27% of men and 23% of women said they would light up a cigarette in such situations.

Almost one third said IT-related problems were a major source of stress.

Developing Patient Partnerships (DPP) is issuing guidance to help people deal better with stress.

Concern about the boss

The majority of those questioned by the DPP said they had felt stressed in the last year.

TOP CAUSES OF STRESS
1. IT problems - 30%
=2. Change in financial status/personal injury - 24%
3. Commuting - 20%

However, death and divorce are still considered the top causes.

And, while the DPP said it was important to talk about stress to help reduce the stigma that surrounded it, only 23% of people said they would speak to their manager.

A quarter (25%) said they would be so worried about what their boss would think, they would not take time off work because of stress.

But 41% of people said they would seek help from their GP.

The survey also asked people what they thought stress was.

Over two thirds thought stress was simply having a "bad day", 63% said it was dealing with difficult people and 58% saw stress as having too much to do.

And 64% wrongly believed that stress was an illness.

Although stress can lead to illness such as depression, it is not an illness in itself.

'Confusion'

The DPP is urging people not to look to smoking, eating junk food and drinking alcohol, as these activities do not help stress levels.

DPP's TIPS FOR DEALING WITH STRESS
1. Live a healthy lifestyle
2. Don't take too much on
3. Decide what causes you stress and change it
4. Avoid unnecessary conflict
5. Manage your time better
6. Practice saying "no" without feeling guilty
7. Take time out to "recharge your batteries"
8. Talk about problems so they do not get out of proportion
9. Make time to see friends
10. Do not use alcohol, nicotine or caffeine to cope with stress

DPP spokeswoman Dr Rosemary Anderson said: "Considering that most people - 79% - believe they have been stressed in the last year, it is worrying that they are seeking solace in alcohol and cigarettes when there are many positive things that people can do to help themselves cope plus feel better in the long term.

"There is clearly a lot of confusion about what stress is and people often underestimate how much they can do to manage their stress."

Alison Cobb, from mental health charity Mind, said: "Today's competitive and pressured work environments can make it very difficult for people to disclose mental health or work stress problems without the fear of affecting their career prospects.

"There is an urgent need for employers to assist workers in managing stress at work, now a major economical problem."

Health challenge

The survey was published as the charity Turning Point claimed more than a quarter of adults - 8.2m people - suffer from a drink-related disorder.

It said 22,000 people die as a direct result of alcohol, mainly from liver disease - but also because of accidents, fights and other drink-fuelled incidents - with 150,000 people admitted to hospital each year because of drinking alcohol.

Treating people with alcohol-related health problems costs 1.7bn a year, and crime -related costs stand at around 20bn annually.

Turning Point's chief executive Lord Victor Adebowale called on the government to treat alcohol as a serious health challenge, and for the drinks industry to do more to tackle the problem.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said it was working with the Home Office and the drinks industry to promote responsible drinking amongst young people.


SEE ALSO:
Stress: A blight on modern life
06 Sep 05 |  Health


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