It's a common enough word, but with good reason: stress is one of the great modern epidemics.
Between 60% and 90% of all visits to the doctor are stress-related, as long working hours an unstable economic outlook pile on the pressure and give us more reasons to feel anxious.
The ancient human stress response emits powerful hormones that prepare us for action - typically, either fight or flight. Physical symptoms include physical tension, low vitality levels, insomnia, and a feeling of imbalance.
But our reaction goes far beyond the physical. In some cases, severe stress and anxiety can lead to time off work and clinical depression. Yet while stress levels are rocketing, our understanding of how we can cope with this peculiarly modern condition is growing fast.
Yoga is, of course, one of the very best ways to find our centre, connect with our breathing and climb outside our over-thinking minds.
But how else can we kick back and de-stress without resorting to caffeine or a large glass of wine (though this can have its place!)? We unearth four more therapies to de-stress:
Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT)
The theory behind EFT is that negative emotions alter the body's energy field. Sometimes called 'psychological acupuncture', EFT is an energy meridian therapy discovered by Gary Graig.
Graig worked with Vietnam war veterans and discovered that spending time tapping on their energy meridians could help them re-learn their automatic stress responses.
Chris Smith, Harley Street hypnotherapist and coach, says EFT has a success rate of around 95%: 'We get in touch with people's fear and take them back to imagining being in the situation that is the source of their anxiety. During the process we tap on certain energy meridians.'
The scientific jury is out on the conclusive benefits: critics say the theory is pseudo-scientific, while at least two studies have shown positive outcomes.
Seiki (meaning 'treatment of life energy') may sound like the better known therapy 'Reiki' - but in fact the two are different and distinct.
Developed by Akinobu Kishi, a Japanese Shiatsu Master, Seiki is a form of Japanese Energy and Movement practice that works with intuition and the breath. It is a gentle, breath-orientated form of gentle movement designed to promote awareness of the current moment and tapping into individuals' intuition.
Clients may be talked through a series of exercises including Katsugen (spontaneous expression and movement), Gyoki (Chi energy awareness) and some simple chants. Those familiar with Tai Chi will recognise the slow, fluid movements and, chances are, you will come away feeling calmer and lighter.
Neuro Linguistic Programming (NLP)
NLP is the practice of understanding how people organise their thinking, feeling, language and behaviour.
The technique is based on the premise that if we change how we think we can simply change what we think.
All of us are constantly running programmes in our heads. As ancient yogis have said for centuries, these ingrained thought-patterns are often distorted, even though they determine our attitudes and behaviour.
The theory behind NLP is that it enables us to re-programme our minds and overcome the thought patterns and behaviour holding us back.
Although dismissed by some parts of the scientific community, advocates strongly argue it can help us to understand the behaviour patterns and views of others by helping them to stand in their shoes and gain a different perspective.
This gentle, increasingly popular therapy works with the body's natural capacity for self-repair to treat conditions such as stress, neck and back pain, autism, arthritis and insomnia.
Craniosacral Therapy was developed by American osteopath Dr William Sutherland in the early 1900s. Sutherland discovered that movements of the bones in the head revealed different aspects - and problems - to do with the body and emotions.
During a session, the person being treated will sit or lie, fully-clothed, on a treatment coach. The therapist will make contact by placing their hands lightly on the head and body, and will begin to tune into what is happening with the mind and body.
Though critics say the benefits are unproven, Craniosacral enthusiasts report better energy levels, improved relaxation and the reduction of deep-seated effects of trauma.
* Craniosacral Therapy Association of the UK - www.craniosacral.co.uk
* Helena Fone: Emotional Freedom Technique for Dummies.