Stress can be caused by many things, from losing your job to being in noisy traffic. When you're stressed, your heart speeds up and your cholesterol and sugar levels rise. The possible results are backaches, stomach problems, increased sensitivity to pain and, of course, heart attacks. You may not be able to escape stress these days, but you can learn how to handle it better.
One good way of relieving stress is to have an active social life. Studies have shown beyond a doubt that people with many social involvements have far fewer health problems than people who are isolated. If you interact with people regularly and feel like you belong -- in churches, clubs, card games, discussion groups or even work -- you are much more likely to be healthy and will probably live longer.
Scientists aren't exactly sure why social contact is good for you, but they suspect that it may be due to a "buffering effect." When you are supported by concerned friends and family, life's pressures are eased. Volunteer work seems to be especially good for you. It decreases your awareness of your own problems and increases your sense of commitment, challenge and self-esteem... all positive emotions that help counteract the effects of stress.