Welcome to Under Pressure, Refinery 29 UK's week dedicated entirely to STRESS: what causes it, why we're suffering from it and how we're combatting it.
How often do you answer "stressed" when your friends, family, acquaintances, Uber drivers... ask how you are? In the right circumstances, experts say the release of cortisol (the stress hormone) is a positive thing – in fact, you need it, for the fight-or-flight situations life presents, and a study published last year tracking thousands of workers found that those in high-stress jobs, but who felt they had a level of freedom and control within that job, were 34% less likely to die than those in low stress jobs. Yet, at the other, negative end of the stress spectrum, we're experiencing all kinds of health problems, from stress-induced IBS that affects twice as many women as men, to chronic stress that becomes depression.
Young women in particular are expected to be connected 24/7, from work (hands up who answers emails after 11pm) to social life (are you in enough Whatsapp groups? Are you in too many Whatsapp groups?), the pressure is constantly there to be switched "on". This relentless, social media perpetuating stress of being your best self, in the best shape of your life – at home, at work, in your social life, in your love life, in the world – with your family, friends and with every person you encounter, is exhausting. And then we find ourselves in danger, and it's not the fight or flight kind – it's the run-down, burnt out kind.
So, this week, for our own benefit as much as yours, we're talking about stress – the pros, cons, causes and effects.
To gain greater insight, we asked women aged 18 to 34, via Toluna Analytics, what stresses them out today. From time management at work, to work/ life balance, to money, here's a few stats from the survey:
Dating and relationships
Everyone's [least] favourite area. 48% of the women surveyed find work/life balance when it comes to relationships the most stressful factor.
For the mothers among the women we surveyed, it’s back to juggling the work/life balance that's weighing heaviest with 45% citing this as the biggest stress factor, as opposed to finances, health or education.
Has the rise of social media and its many, many ways to reach out to different people actually made friendships even harder? It looks that way with 49% of the women worrying about how difficult it is to keep in touch with their friends. Those famous false realities of these channels are affecting friendships too with 38% of the women surveyed citing the most stressful factor about social media as the unrealistic portrayals of people's lives.
Unless there's a big lottery win on the horizon, personal finances are something we’re going to have to deal with daily for the rest of our lives. Not having money left over at the end of the month is weighing heavy with 51% citing lack of savings as the most stressful factor in finances, as opposed to mortgages, overdrafts or student debts.
Interestingly, despite high house prices and the huge cost of living, the Londoners in the group were less stressed about finances than elsewhere.
Join us for the rest of the week as we find out what you can do to ease the pressure.