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Most 'do nothing to counter stress'

The majority of Britons do nothing to combat stress and opt to live with it, a poll has suggested.

Although half of respondents said they felt stressed at least once a week and one in five (21%) every day, nearly two-thirds (63%) admitted they would not take any steps to deal with stress, according to the survey by the Mental Health Foundation.

Spending time alone was the approach chosen by 30% of respondents, while the next most common method of tackling stress was to eat comfort food (26%).

The poll found the places with the highest percentages of people who said they were stressed regularly were the London area (54%), followed by Liverpool and Milton Keynes (both 59%).

Bristol was the calmest place, with 56% of people reporting they were rarely stressed.

People should actively manage stress by remaining sociable and talking about their problems, eating healthily and practising mindfulness - a combination of meditation, yoga and breathing techniques - to counter the related risk of suffering depression or physical health problems, the Mental Health Foundation said.

Dr Andrew McCulloch, chief executive of the foundation, said: "The economic costs of unmanaged stress are huge and increasing - 11 million lost working days a year at the last count - while the personal costs for those who experience it, and their families and friends, is of equal concern.

"Unmanaged stress can additionally develop into mental health problems, such as depression, as well as increasing the risk of physical problems, such as heart disease."

TV doctor and GP Dr Jonty Heaversedge said: "Stress is becoming increasingly common in these troubled economic times, and a problem I am seeing more and more amongst my patients.

"The clinical evidence for mindfulness as an effective method of stress reduction is compelling and, like eating well and taking regular exercise, it is a healthy way in which people can manage their stress so that it doesn't end up taking over their lives or developing into a more serious mental illness."

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