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Stress / About stress

‘Stress’ is the word used to describe the body's reaction to changes. We react to many changes with physical, mental, and emotional responses.

It’s important to recognise that stress is a normal part of life and that things that happen to or around us often produce stress. We can experience stress from the environment, our bodies, our thoughts.

The human body is designed for that. Stress can be positive, keeping us alert and ready to avoid danger. But stress becomes negative when we face continuous challenges without relief or relaxation between them. As a result, we may become overworked and stress-related tension can build.

Stress that continues without relief can lead to a condition we call distress - a negative stress reaction. Distress can then lead to physical symptoms including headaches, upset stomach, elevated blood pressure, chest pain, sleeping difficulties, depression and anxiety. Research suggests that stress also can bring on or worsen certain symptoms or diseases.

Stress also becomes even more harmful when people seek relief through ‘self-medication’ with alcohol, tobacco, or non-prescribed drugs. Unfortunately, instead of relieving stress and returning the body to a relaxed state, these substances tend to defer then concentrate stress causing more problems.

New Zealand’s Health and Safety in Employment Act identifies workplace stress as a hazard that requires managing just like unsafe machinery or chemicals. The first prosecution here related to causing workplace stress occurred in 2005.

Recent USA research findings indicate that around forty-three percent of adults suffer adverse health effects from stress. About seventy-five to ninety per cent of doctor's office visits may be for ailments and complaints that trace back to stress.