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Wednesday, 1 November, 2000, 02:06 GMT
Commuting is 'biggest stress'
Stress costs UK businesses 3.7bn annually
Travelling to and from work is the single biggest cause of stress for many people, a survey has found.

Researchers have found many people believe commuting is more stressful than problems at work or at home or even money worries.

The findings, which are published to coincide with National Stress Awareness Day on Wednesday, follow weeks of turmoil on the nation's railway network and increasing delays on Britain's roads.

Stress has now overtaken the common cold as the single biggest reason for people missing work.

Coping with stress
Avoid nicotine, caffeine, too much alcohol and tranquillisers
Work off stress with physical activity
Do not put off relaxing
Get enough sleep
If you get sick, take a break
Try to avoid interpersonal conflicts
Accept what you cannot change
Manage your time better and delegate
Recognise when you are tired and do something about it
Plan ahead - if you say no now you will prevent stress in the future
An estimated 6.7 million working days are lost every year as a result of stress. The cost to UK businesses is believed to be around 3.7bn.

The survey of more than 400 people showed 44% of people believed rush hour traffic was the single most stressful part of their life.

One in three said worrying about their children's future causes them to be stressed.

Some 31% said work problems were to blame although seven in 10 said they had become stressed at work at some point.

Men were more likely to suffer from workplace stress than women.

The survey has refuted the theory that new technology, such as the internet, emails and mobile phones, are a leading cause of stress.

Just one in five said they found these to be causing a problem in their daily lives.

The survey, carried out on behalf of the International Stress Management Association and Royal & SunAlliance, revealed almost half of those questioned said their stress levels had increased in the past year.

Massive problem

Carole Spiers, chairwoman of the National Stress Awareness Day committee, said employers needed to do more to help their employees to overcome stress.

"Companies clearly have a massive problem on their hands which they cannot afford to ignore.

"Unless they implement practices, policies and procedures to reduce stress, it will impact on their performance and ultimately their long term success," she said.

Dr Graham Lucas, advisor in occupational mental health at Priory Healthcare which has drawn up a list of measures people can take to beat stress, said companies could not afford to ignore the problems of stress.

"It's not a question of whether or not an organisation can afford to deal with stress - it cannot afford not to."

Maggie Fuller, a corporate stress counsellor, added: "When somebody becomes stressed their blood pressure goes up, their heart rate increases, their stomach acid increases.

"This shuts down the intestines which stops them from digesting food properly. Their shoulders become tense and they get headaches.

"Stress is one of the major health problems in this country at the moment. As a country that works longer hours than anyone else in Europe we have a very serious problem to face."

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16 Oct 00 | Health
Women more at risk of stress
26 Jul 00 | Health
Sterile offices 'causing stress'
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