EVERYONE these days, it seems, is a bit stressed out. Or a lot stressed out. Or tearing-their-hair-out stressed out.

Stress is one of the biggest causes of absence from work with a reported one-in-five workers feeling extremely stressed at work – that equates to almost five million people in the UK alone and costs the UK economy approximately £3.9 billion per year.

Yet, for such a massive part of the explanation for absence from work, the term has only really been used fairly recently.

I remember having a discussion with my Gran and she said there was no such thing in her day. Now, that’s not to say people didn’t suffer from it, just that there was no known term or diagnosis.

Presumably the stress levels of the population have increased with the demands of modern life. The juggling act we all do at some level is often precarious and could come crashing down around us at any time.

However, could we maybe prevent things from getting so on top of us? Reluctance to admit defeat, and the even harder task of asking for help, is something many of us are guilty of.

What’s wrong with holding our hands up and confessing to not being the superheroes we have convinced ourselves we should be?

It’s only recently that I’ve been able to do just that. My stubborn streak (more a large chunk) forbade me to acknowledge that I couldn’t do everything on my own all the time.

Even when I was throwing tantrums like a two year old and stomping around with a face like thunder I’d still try to fight through single-handed.

I’m not sure what changed, whether it’s age or life experience, but now I’m willing ask for help if I need it and concede that I am not that a one-woman powerhouse. Despite however much I wish I were.

And having done so I can, hand on heart, say my stress levels have gone down remarkably and I am – overall – a much calmer person.

Knowing the effect relinquishing some of the control had on me, leads me to think that if more people were able to do the same, the absence rate may fall a little and, more importantly, millions of people may be spared the tears, anxiety and depression that often comes with the condition.

I’m not naïve enough to think that this is the solution, as we all know there are many causes of stress, not least the expectations of others, which have to be taken into account to deliver any kind of successful treatment. But, as the old adage goes, prevention is better than cure.

•PERUSING the photos taken over the festive period, one in particular stuck out. It was decided to take a photo of all the women in the family, then one of all the men – there were 12 women in the photo (two were missing) compared with seven men.

The males have always been outnumbered in our family with only one boy out of eight grandchildren and great-grandchildren there’s that slightly desperate hope that the next one born will help even up the score.

As yet, all pleadings have been ignored and the lassies keep on coming.

Of course, we all have a laugh about the poor henpecked men and they harp on about the fact that they have to stick together against us women, but I think a couple of extra males in the group wouldn’t be a bad thing.

I suspect the lone grandson may have appreciated some support when his five female cousins ganged up on him during the summer afternoons playing in back gardens.

It was also mentioned by one of the men (after a couple of beers and as he was stood near the door) that he had never seen so many similarities in one group of women and we were all the same.

To which the response was far from positive.

He was told sharply by us, mostly in chorus and mostly in the same tone, that he was talking rubbish.

Clearly there was more truth in that than we all cared to admit despite the consumption of the New Year drink.