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Stress is caused by our reactions to the situations and circumstances in which we find ourselves. It is something that we give shape and form to. It is not a new thing medicine links stress responses to man's basic instinct for "Fight or Flight".

When we are stressed our systems trigger hormones to be released, which send the body into a state of alertness in preparation for action. Our digestion is depressed, as food processing is no longer the body's priority, we become pale as our body directs the blood flow away from our skin towards towards the heart brain and muscles. The muscles tighten and tense in preparation for action.

Stressors in our lives are many and various. In the work place expectations are that people must do more and more just to 'keep their heads above water'. Computers have taken out the slog out of mundane tasks. Data processing has speeded up the creation of reports and printouts. They arrive thick and fast, but the time it takes to read, assess and understand these documents has remained constant and has not speeded up. On the back of improved communications and diminishing donkey work thanks to computers and technological inovations, workers are required to take on more and more.

If we buy in to the expectations of keeping up, we are buying into a deficit model. Feelings of being swamped and inadequate proliferate and the ever more elastic job descriptions encroach upon our private lives. Time we should be spending to relax, to do something for ourselves, to be with our loved ones sometimes seems little better than an illusion to torment ourselves with. How many times do you hear people say "If I had the time, I would..." then up pop two other familiar stress factors, guilt and dissatisfaction because the time and capability to do what they want in their life eludes them.

People try to balance their need to work and the demands of ever more elastic working hours. Some succeed and seem to thrive on stress, others find it hard to find free time - another source of stress is then triggered because the individuals are not attending to their own needs or to those of their family and friends, which engenders? Yes you've guessed it- more stress. Some founder and suffer from a lack of balance in their lives. The inability to perform this intricate balancing act results in stress, which is all too often refelected in an inbalance in both the physical and mental health of the individual.

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