Nearly half of adults feel stressed every day or every few days…..
This was the conclusion from the Mental Health Foundation who recently published results from a survey indicating the need for extra help in managing stress.
59% of British adults say their life is more stressful than it was five years ago.
Apparently money and work top the survey results as main causes of stress in Britain today. Findings also show that people are 3 times more likely to turn to alcohol in a bid to alleviate stress rather than visit the GP. A closer look revealed rather worryingly that 18% found drinking alcohol and 10% found smoking helpful while only 6% would consider visiting a GP or a medical professional for their stress related issues.
Difficult economic times are cited as a contributory factor. Backed up by findings from a recent NHS Information Centre survey revealing hospital admissions for stress have risen by seven per cent in just 12 months.
And with speculation this week, Britain may in fact re enter recession, could this figure increase?
The survey was conducted as part of the Foundation’s January initiative to raise awareness of stress and its impact on people’s mental health, and to encourage access to a wide range of resources to help people manage it better.
Andrew McCulloch, Chief Executive of the Mental Health Foundation said:
“The impact of current economic problems has put a lot of people under pressure due to the fear, or reality, of unemployment, insecure housing and high levels of debt and these results are not surprising. Unmanaged, stress can develop into serious mental health problems, such as depression, as well as increasing the risk of physical illness such as heart disease.
“The results of our survey suggest that too many of us still aren’t making managing stress a priority. It’s
important to recognise the symptoms of stress early. Recognising the signs and symptoms of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and save you from adopting unhealthy coping methods, such as drinking or smoking.”
When asked for their top three ways they found helpful to deal with their stress, 41% of respondents said they spend time alone, making it the most common approach. This was closely followed by talking to partners, family and friends about it (40%) and spending time enjoying their favourite hobbies (39%).
Sleep deprivation was also cited as a consequence of unmanaged stress along with the ‘fall out’ of that; feeling short – tempered and irritated, or experiencing inability to switch off.
“We hope that these results will help people realise the impact that stress can have on people’s mental health and help promote a healthier 2013. We are also calling for the government to offer more practical help for people to manage their stress better. The introduction of the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) programme was a great step forward, but more needs to be done as only only a quarter of those who need treatment are getting it.
With so many talking therapies out there, it would be understandable to conclude simply talking through problems reduces stress. However Rob Kelly, author of Thrive, found research suggests otherwise (Lyubomirsky and Tkach(2004)
When someone is not managing their day to day thinking well; they may feel powerless to either find a solution to their current problem or ad
apt to a situation beyond their control. The Thrive Programme is an evidence based ‘mind training’ which does involve talking ( and Thrive consultants are great listeners!) but also incorporates a practical work book primarily focussing on developing healthier and more helpful styles of thinking particularly useful when facing any life challenge.
Thrive revolves around strengthening 3 key areas or Belief Systems:
a belief in the amount of control you have over events ( Locus of Control)
a positive view of yourself and your capabilities (self esteem )
reducing the worry of how ( you think) other people view you ( social anxiety)
Upon completion of the programme, not only will clients leave with a thorough understanding of their psychological make- up and what makes them ‘tick’ ( how thoughts, feelings, experiences and beliefs interact ), they will have the tools to set about taking more control of their life.
Sometimes, a client at week 1 of the training programme, might ask how working on those 3 key areas will lessen the stress they are feeling about a particular problem – it doesn’t seem obviously relevant! This is because they are isolating the problem and are not able ( at that early stage in the training) to see themselves as a proactive part of the solution. Why not read about how some of these clients have changed their lives completely at testimonials
Let’s look back at some of the figures from this survey:
Findings also show that people are 3 times more likely to turn to alcohol in a bid to alleviate stress rather than visit the GP……
The example here shows a man or woman with an external locus of control (because they feel powerless to calm or relax themselves without alcohol ) and possibly a high degree of social anxiety – they would worry what the doctor might think of them if they paid him/her a visit or perhaps feel they shouldn’t be wasting doctors’ time? ( low self esteem)
All of this poorly managed thinking adds unnecessary stress to an already difficult situation.
When asked for their top three ways they found helpful to deal with their stress, 41% of respondents said they spend time alone
Time alone could be a great thing IF used as time out, perhaps engaging in some form of relaxation. However these figures could include a group of people withdrawing through a fear of being judged by others (social anxiety) or using the time to ‘think’ their problems through. Great if they believe they could do something productive! However if they are simply mulling and brooding and feeling bad in themselves, this will only increase stress levels resulting in a cycle hard to break out of.
All our consultants offer a Free Consultation so if you feel meeting up with one could benefit you, take a look at this list: Find a Thrive Consultant.
Caroline Hamblin MIAPH Adv. Acc.
Thrive Consultant and Blogger