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Fifty years ago, only bridges were stressed. Humans were nervous, worried or fearful. Since the 1950's, "stress" has evolved from an engineering term to a cultural construct. In 1996, stress was worth $9.4 billions to Americans spending money on ergonomics, massages and other stress-busters.


A Brief History Of Stress

Stress is the most contagious plague of modern society. According to Prevention Magazine's 1996 annual Prevention Index survey, nearly three-quarters of adults (73 percent) say they feel great stress on a weekly basis.

In 1983, fewer than six in 10 Index respondents (55 percent) had the same response. Every single individual is stressed at least once in a while by petty annoyances of daily life. Stress, doctors say, is the way the human body produces adrenaline and other hormones in response to outside stimuli. The blood pressure rises after missing a bus and the heartbeat speeds up after missing a first-date dinner.

Since 1956, when "stress" was introduced into the American vernacular, the concept has been wholeheartedly embraced by popular culture. Today, the cultural connotations of "stress" often overpower its actual definition -- a mental, emotional or physical tension, strain or distress.





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