The mere mention of the word conjures thoughts of trying to do four things at once at work, retaliation for someone who cuts in front of your automobile on the highway or trying too hard so you won't be considered a failure.Stress can lead to physical problems such as backaches, headaches, ulcers and colitis. If people can properly handle stress and learn how to relax, their work atmosphere will improve and they will live longer and healthier lives.

These are some of the points presented this week by Jerry Braza, associate professor of health education at the University of Utah, who spoke during a Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce seminar in the Utah Power & Light Co. Auditorium.

Stress, said Braza, is not unusual. "It is nature's way of telling us to slow down. Stress causes physical problems, which requires us to slow down," he said.

He compared stress to the "rockets" that keep coming in a video game in an attempt to "shoot down" the operator. The secret is to learn strategies that will help people handle the stress.

People should develop the attitude they will live to be 100 years old. It is also important to avoid being stuck "in the same old rut" by giving yourself some options, Braza said.

In the hectic pace of business life, Braza suggests that people "quiet themselves, which means taking a few moments to breath deeply, think about relaxing things and get in a change of pace."

Braza said stress costs business $150 billion annually through lower productivity, higher absenteeism and increased medical costs. Stress is linked to most common diseases and physical problems, so learning to handle stress will reduce the problems.

Proper breathing and good posture are important in eliminating stress because they also reduce fatigue. Braza said giving a simple "sigh" is also good for relieving pressure.

In addition to handling your own stress, Braza said it's good not to create stress for others. For example, a person conducting a stress relaxation class shouldn't tell his students to "hurry up."

Braza said most working people claim their stress comes from not being appreciated, so it's a good idea to tell others how much you appreciate their work and how much they contribute to the success of the business.