How are your stress levels? Given that it’s National Stress Awareness day today, it’s possible that more of us might be doing a bit of a self-audit of our mental wellbeing than usual, but results from a recent You Gov survey of 2136 adults, 1190 of whom were women, indicate that it’s highly likely you’re feeling the pressure on the daily.
More than one in five of us feel stressed or anxious every day, compared to just three in 20 men, and such high and consistent levels of stress are taking their toll on our health across the board, along with our social lives and careers, to a degree that’s just not apparent in the male population.
Not only do women suffer more work-related stress than men according to figures released by the Health and Safety Executive earlier this year (go figure with the still-very much existent gender pay gap , workplace sexism and a lack of flexible working patterns for starters), but this most recent poll proves that the pressure doesn’t let up when we’ve left the office (again...figures). 54 per cent of women suffering from anxiety struggle to sleep at night , compared to 39 per cent of stressed out men, while women on the whole are more prone to panic attacks , with 29 per cent of women reporting that they’re suffered at least one attack in the past compared to 17 per cent of men. 47 per cent of us feel that stress triggers unhealthy dietary choices, contrasted with 31 per cent of men, while almost half of the women surveyed reported taking stress out on a partner or their family, compared to less than a third of men (possibly owing to greater self-awareness and the social conditioning of women both in society in general and in the domestic sphere? Just going to leave that one there). (Yes, I’m using a lot of brackets for feminist interjections here I am v aware).
Soaring levels of stress are invading our supposed downtime, with over a third of us missing out on social or family occasions due to anxiety, and 32 per cent of us skip meals because we’re too stressed to eat. 41 per cent have turned to alcohol or cigarettes as a coping mechanism, and the same number state that stress-related mental health issues prevent them from getting regular exercise. To top it off, being a mum likely makes things worse- apparently having kids under the age of 18 is linked to higher stress levels (24 per cent of parents feel anxious every day).
The small prick of light at the end of the dark stress tunnel is that women are more likely to seek help and support than men according to Not for Profit counselling and hypnotherapy training organisation Chrysalis Courses . 46 per cent of women look into counselling or other forms of mental health therapy, as opposed to 33 per cent of men. So there’s that, but targeting the root of female stress, whether social, professional or otherwise, would also be a goer in our book. The fact that an NHS report in September identified a “gathering crisis” in the mental health of girls and young women, with levels of self-harm, low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction markedly higher than those of boys, and beginning at a younger age, highlights that female mental wellbeing can suffer practically from the get-go. Greater availability of resources and support, in addition to much-needed cultural change, could make all the difference for future generations.
If you suffer from stress, anxiety or any other mental health issue, seek help and information from the Mind website