Health problems associated with job-related anxiety account for more deaths each year than Alzheimer's disease or diabetes. 

The impact stress is having on society as a whole is so profound that?Psychology Today calls cortisol, the stress hormone, "Public Enemy Number One".

It is unrealistic to think we can create a stress-free workplace, but stress can be reduced saving billions of dollars in lost productivity and ultimately in saving lives. 

Causes of workplace stress: 

 * Inadequate health insurance that may result in a financial burden for the employee or worse yet delayed treatment. In fact, shift work and long work hours were also associated with worse health generally, and bad health decisions?like smoking. 

 * Decisions about work hours and shift work have profound consequences affecting sleep and conflicts with family life. 

 * A 2005 study noted that those who reported high levels of feeling overworked were 20 percent more likely to say that they had made lots of mistakes on the job, which could be especially problematic for those with physically demanding or dangerous positions. 

 * The stress that comes from the combination of low job control and high demands has also been found to contribute to issues like cardiovascular disease. * Conflicting priorities between work and home have a negative effect on mental health, and have been linked to some substance-abuse issues. 

According to new research by AXA PPP Healthcare in the U.K. following the Germanwings disaster, seven in ten bosses do not regard stress, anxiety or depression to be valid reasons for employees to take time off work.

AXA PPP Healthcare surveyed 1,000 senior business managers, managing directors, chief executives and owners and 1,000 employees and found that 69 per cent of bosses did not believe mental illness warranted time off work. Yet a quarter of managers admitted they had themselves suffered from mental illness at some point

Although stress is not a disease, it is the first warning sign of an impending problem; if the body experiences unimpeded stress, acute and chronic changes occur, leading to long-term damage to systems and organs within the body. 

How can the workplace be less stressful? 

 * Top-down efforts to foster a more collegial and secure working environment may lead to happier and healthier workers.  
* Company-wide events and mentorship programs can?help in tackling high stress levels for employees and the associated health costs for employers. 

 * Efforts to retain employees for significant periods of time might help too, since workers tend to feel more secure and form more supportive social networks when there is some level of consistency within the employee pool, according to research. 

Specific ways owners and managers can help reduce excessive stress in the workplace:

 * First, be able to recognize the signs and symptoms of stress in order to effect the appropriate organizational changes; 

 * Take action aimed at stemming these sources and types of stress. 

 * And it is essential they understand the various coping mechanisms available and help individuals select the most appropriate ones. Learning to manage chronic stress is an essential life skill in today?s world. If you find that you are exposed to high levels of stress on a daily basis, it may be best to consult a mental health professional. They can help you learn essential coping strategies that may prevent a physical ailment before it even begins, or alleviate symptoms that you are already experiencing. As cancer survivor and best-selling author Kris Carr said, "If you don't think your anxiety, depression, sadness and stress impact your physical health, think again. All of these emotions trigger chemical reactions in your body, which can lead to inflammation and a weakened immune system. Learn how to cope, sweet friend. There will always be dark days."