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Breakfast Thursday, 24 April, 2003, 05:13 GMT 06:13 UK
Beating stress
picture posed by model
Just over two thirds of us suffer from stress at work, according to experts from the International Stress Management Association.

The problem is now so serious that it accounts for around 6.5 million days off sick each year, costing British businesses hundreds of millions of pounds each year.

  • But is it possible to lead a stress-free life, as a new guide published today promises?

  • Breakast asked for your tips for beating stress.

  • And we talked to Roger Mead, of the Stress Management Association.

    "Pressure is good for you, it gives you a buzz in life. But when it goes too far, that's stress," he told us. "Stress will greatly lower your performance, for example at work."

    "Once you recognise that you're stressed, look at what's causing it.

    "Keep a diary or make a mental note. You might be worse on Fridays for instance.

    "Or, if lack of time causes you stress, do something about time management - perhaps you need to get up earlier to get into work.

    The causes of stress - and the best ways of dealing with them - are often highly individual, believes Roger. The key to beating it is to find out what works for you.

    What makes us stressed?

    All sorts of life-changing experiences can be stressful.

    Most of us might expect that divorce or bereavement can produce severe stress, but so, too, can experiences which outsiders would think are "good news": getting married, changing jobs or having a child.

    How can I tell if I'm stressed?

    Common signs include:

  • Increased irritability or sensitivity to criticism
  • Changes in sleep patterns: difficulty in getting to sleep or waking very early
  • Increased consumption of alcohol or cigarettes
  • Indigestion
  • Loss of concentration
  • Physical symptoms such as high blood pressure, headaches, muscle ticks or dry mouth

    What can I do about stress?

    There are many ways to deal with stress. Some of these suggestions may help

  • Find someone you can confide in
  • Accept offers of practical help
  • Know your own limits
  • Find a way to let off steam which causes no harm (for instance, hitting a pillow)
  • Use relaxation and breathing techniques
  • Relaxation techniques such as massage and Yoga

    Stress at work

  • Try to keep your working hours regular and take the breaks you're entitled to
  • Talk to someone you trust and use workplace counselling if it's available
  • Learn assertiveness to protect you from unreasonable demands
  • If things get too much, book a day off or a long weekend

  • The Which?Guide to Managing Stress is published today by the Consumers' Association

    TELL US WHAT YOU THINK

    To have your say, e-mail us at breakfasttv@bbc.co.uk

    Send us your comments:
    Name:

    Your E-mail Address:

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  •  WATCH/LISTEN
     ON THIS STORY
    Stress at work
    Breakfast's Yvonne Ndege reports
    How to cope with stress
    Roger Mead, International Stress Management Association
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