Someone once wrote: "No one ever died of hard work, but people have died of laziness", or something to that effect.

In fact, the latter is true and we know that being a couch potato can, in due course, cause obesity, heart disease and diabetes.

However, in recent times, I believe hard work has involved a lot of stress-related illness because of the extra responsibility attached to our work, long-distance driving or doing two people's jobs in one.

The more caring, conscientious and dedicated you are, the greater is your stress vulnerability in a demanding culture of cutthroat competition.

The increasing number of expert staff members in various professions like teaching, nursing, engineering, or office management going off sick with stress speaks for itself.

Do employers need to take any notice for the future health of our industry?

Every week, I see young women and men between the ages of 18 and 35, who are taking antidepressants for depression and anxiety.

They often cannot cope with life situations or work, are often working in jobs they do not like, or find their managers equally stressed out.

The workload is just unbearable and many seem to have lost a sense of purpose in life.

One engineer got so fed up after 16 years of driving round the country repairing machinery every day of the week, he almost drove his car off the cliff. Reason?

Too much workload, not enough time to enjoy his life with his wife and family, unable to say "no" to customers on weekend emergency call-outs.

After two weeks off work and helping his wife rebuild his garden fence, he felt so much better.

A young teacher I know is trying to make ends meet and doing extra work out of hours. She has a child but no partner to offer her support and comfort, nor does she have many close friends here.

She is suffering from depression, cannot cope, and is seeing a counsellor privately because the NHS waiting list is months long. More pills, please.

A senior director is in emotional turmoil because his long-time partner just left him.

"I never thought it would affect me like this," he told me. We think we are very strong, but forget we are only human. To feel emotion is a normal human response.

So what is the answer? My wise old practice manager used to say: "Stand back and regroup." The holistic way is to take a step back, sit quietly for half an hour everyday, perhaps in the tranquillity of a church or temple.

Connect with your inner being and take stock.

Smile first, then ask yourself: What is my inner being saying? How are my emotions today? How much do I need to work and how much can I enjoy?

What irrational demands am I making of myself and of life?

Why am I getting into long meaningless conversations? What is stopping me from running freely in an open green field with arms outstretched, crying with joy: "It is a wonderful life!"?