Results of the Mental Health Foundation’s 2018 study
The study was an online poll undertaken by YouGov, and had a sample size of 4,619 respondents. This is the largest known study of stress levels in the UK.
In the past year, 74% of people have felt so stressed they have been overwhelmed or unable to cope.
30% of older people reported never feeling overwhelmed or unable to cope in the past year, compared to 7% of young adults.
46% reported that they ate too much or ate unhealthily due to stress. 29% reported that they started drinking or increased their drinking, and 16% reported that they started smoking or increased their smoking.
51% of adults who felt stressed reported feeling depressed, and 61% reported feeling anxious.
Of the people who said they had felt stress at some point in their lives, 16% had self harmed and 32% said they had had suicidal thoughts and feelings.
37% of adults who reported feeling stressed reported feeling lonely as a result.
Causes of stress
36% of all adults who reported stress in the previous year cited either their own or a friend/relative’s long-term health condition as a factor. This rose to 44% of adults over 55.
Of those who reported feeling stressed in the past year, 22% cited debt as a stressor.
For people who reported high levels of stress, 12% said that feeling like they need to respond to messages instantly was a stressor.
49% of 18-24 year olds who have experienced high levels of stress, felt that comparing themselves to others was a source of stress, which was higher than in any of the older age groups.
36% of women who felt high levels of stress related this to their comfort with their appearance and body image, compared to 23% of men.
Housing worries are a key source of stress for younger people (32% of 18-24 year olds cited it as a source of stress in the past year). This is less so for older people (22% for 45-54 year olds and just 7% for over 55s).
Younger people have higher stress related to the pressure to succeed. 60% of 18-24 year olds and 41% of 25-34 year olds cited this, compared to 17% of 45-54s and 6% of over 55s).
The idea that there’s this massive amount happening under the hood came from Freud.
The history of understanding that there is an unconscious that’s riding under the radar of conscious awareness is such a new idea, historically. Several hundred years ago, people got pieces and parts of the idea, but it wasn’t until Freud that he really nailed it.
Neuroscience has drifted off a little bit from the directions that Freud was going in terms of the interpretations of whether your unconscious mind is sending you particular hidden signals and so on. But the idea that there’s this massive amount happening under the hood, that part was correct and so Freud really nailed that. And he lived before the blossoming of modern neuroscience, so he was able to do this just by outside observation and looking at how people acted.
Nowadays, we’re able to peer non-invasively inside people’s heads as they’re doing tasks, as they’re thinking about things and making decisions, perceiving the world. We’re able to go a lot deeper into understanding this massive machinery under the hood.
In health, mind matters. David Spiegel of Stanford University’s School of Medicine explains what happens in the brain when somebody is hypnotized, and how hypnosis can reduce pain, improve cancer survival rates and help people stop smoking.
Major hospitals are finding hypnotherapy can help sufferers of digestive conditions like heartburn, acid reflux and irritable bowel syndrome.
Experts theorize that hypnotherapy works because many gastrointestinal disorders are affected by a faulty connection between the brain and the gut, or digestive tract. The gut and brain are in constant communication. When something disrupts that communication, the brain misinterprets normal signals, which can cause the body to become hypersensitive to stimuli detected by nerves in the gut, causing pain. Experts believe hypnosis shifts the brain’s attention away from those stimuli by providing healthy suggestions about what’s going on in the gut.
According to the HypnoBirthing International website, expectant mothers can use ‘The Mongan Method’ to tap into their subconscious and rely on their instincts to achieve relaxation, “free of the resistance that fear creates.” This also promotes the release of endorphins, which can be essential if the birthing plan takes an unexpected turn. The result? A serene, calm and ultimately, positive experience.