Stress can hit people at any age and is affecting a growing number of people in Sussex.

Siobhan Ryan looks at how people's lifestyles affect their health and what they are trying to do to relax After a long and stressful day, most people will try to unwind through various methods, such as taking a long, hot bath, going for a run or sitting down in front the TV for the evening.

But for some, stress can be much more than feeling tense it can actually have seriously detrimental effect on their health.

Stress is physical, mental, emotional strain or tension and can occur in specific situations, although different people perceive different situations as stressful.

Some thrive on tight dead-lines, last-minute meetings and the like, yet that same person might find a visit to their mother-in-law stressful.

Research has found that there are mental benefits for people who exercise regularly.

These include reducing stress levels and increasing confidence and optimism.

Experts say this does not mean someone has to go out and do a 20-mile run every day to relax but regular, gentle exercise can help.

If that exercise also concentrates the mind, then this is even better.

A useful stress-buster is the martial art Tai Chi.

More and more clubs are springing up around Sussex giving people the chance to try it out for themselves.

Tai Chi consists of dozens separate movements which are connected together into a specific order and, as well as a martial art, has been used as an ancient healing method.

Penny Markham,who runs regular classes in Lewes, said: "We get people all ages coming to us for all types of reasons. "Quite a few have said it is wonderful way for them to ease any tension they have.

As they are working so hard make the movements as smooth and fluid as possible they forget about ordinary stresses for a while.

When they have finished, they feel refreshed and ready to face the world again."

Former dustman Derek Fulker has taken things a step further by taking up an aerobic version of Tai Chi called Ba Gua.

Mr Fulker, from Brighton, became interested in Tai Chi after suffering from depression.

He said: "When I first got into Tai Chi, some of my colleagues thought it was a joke but it appealed to me because of its meditative element.

It is also more energetic than Tai Chi and works the muscles more."

Mr Fulker learned Ba Gua from two teachers, one who lives in California and the other in Brittany, and now holds classes of his own.

There is also a homeopathic solution that can help some people, which is the use of Kava Kava. This is amember of the black pepper plant family and originates in the South Seas Islands.

Recent research carried out in Germany suggests that standardised Kava Kava extract can help promote a sense of calm and tranquillity while keeping a clear mind.

It is sometimes used as a relaxant by people who have a fear of flying and are about to go on a long journey.

The hunt for balance and harmony in whatever is around us is central to Feng Shui, the Chinese art of arranging a home or work place to create better health, wealth and relationships.

Experts say hat if a room is arranged in the correct way it can help ease the effects of stress and illness.

Those who use Feng Shui believe people are influenced by geopathic stress, a form of energy affected by the Earth's electromagnetic field.

Worthing-based Feng Shui consultant, Frederique Cooke, says outside factors around the home can affect people.

She said: "If you have no energy, or are plagued with health problems or can't seem to get going in life, outside factors such as geopathic stress, may be present and something like Feng Shui can really help.

"Feng Shui is looking at the energy of the environment and how we can live in harmony with that."

Big companies like Virgin, BUPA and British Airways have used Feng Shui to help heir business but even using it to reorganise your desk could make a world of difference.