Epidemic as four out of five people regularly stressed

Survey reveals how work and financial pressures are taking their toll on Brits. Picture: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images
Survey reveals how work and financial pressures are taking their toll on Brits. Picture: FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP/Getty Images
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Pressure at work, financial worries and concerns about health are leaving Britain in the grip of a stress “epidemic”, according to a new survey which lays bare the fears and worries of ordinary people.

A survey of thousands of adults across Britain found that four out of five felt stressed during a typical week, while almost one in 10 were stressed all the time.

Workplace stress was linked to modern technological trends which lead to the so-called “always on” culture, with most people taking calls or checking their email accounts via their smartphones and tablets in the evenings and at weekends.

However, most employees are just as worried about traditional workplace problems, with more than two out of three fretting over their salary prospects, while almost as many were concerned about their ability to pay household bills as a result.

The survey, commissioned by leading insurance company, Axa, also found that men were more likely than women to be stressed about work-related issues.

Many of those questioned said they watched television, listened to music, read a book, exercised or drank alcohol to combat the effects of stress.

Dr Mark Winwood, director of psychological services at Axa’s PPP healthcare division, said the findings revealed the extent of the problem of stress in modern Britain.

He explained: “These findings illustrate the worrying scale of the UK’s stress epidemic, occurring both in the workplace and at home, impacting people up and down the country.

“As well as work and finances, health seems to be a concern for a large number of Brits. People are not only worried about their own well-being but also the general health of their loved ones.”

He added: “It is encouraging to see a third of people exercising as a way to combat stress, which is obviously a much healthier way of unwinding than smoking or drinking. Physical activity is proven to have a positive impact on mental health, even if it is just a walk around the block instead of a trip to the gym.”

The findings of the survey also reveal a postcode lottery in terms of who is worst affected by stress.

Cardiff was said to be the most stressed city, followed by Belfast, Sheffield, London and Leeds, while people were least stressed in Brighton, Newcastle, Liverpool, Cambridge, Birmingham and Leicester, the report added.

However, a YouGov poll published earlier this year indicated that Scotland is the most stressed area of the UK.

The research commissioned by The Physiological Society, which looked at how key events such as Brexit impact on people, showed Scotland was the worst area, with people in the south east of England the least stressed.

It too highlighted a potential gender gap in stress, although it found that it was women, and not men, who reported higher levels of anxiety from issues like the death of a loved one or illness.

Some 4,000 people were interviewed as part of the Axa survey.