Man slumped beside computer Stressed employees also are more likely to be unmotivated, quit their jobs, perform poorly and have low morale and higher incidence of illness and accidents. (Photo: Shutterstock)

Impending deadlines and expectations of being available and responsive 24/7, juggling the demands of work and home, an onslaught of bills and unexpected expenses–these are the kind of worries that keep piling up, causing stress to reach overwhelming proportions. It’s an epidemic we must address to improve population health and maintain a healthy, productive work environment.

Stress — particularly chronic stress — leads to a variety of health problems, including hypertension, irritable bowel syndrome, ulcers, headaches and mood swings. These issues may be exacerbated when employees change their behaviors in an attempt to manage stress-related symptoms. Those experiencing excessive stress often deal with it in unhealthy ways, such as overeating, eating unhealthy foods, smoking cigarettes or abusing drugs and alcohol, according to the American Psychological Association. This vicious cycle makes stress one of the top health concerns; 49 percent of individuals are at risk for stress-related illnesses, second only to weight, which impacts 69 percent.

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