Living in a hostile environment

Stress is a good thing. It gives you the quick burst of heightened alertness and energy you need to perform at your best. But, when activated for too long or too often, stress can damage virtually every part of your body, including your mind. In fact, it is the mental implications of stress…

Aver

Stress is a good thing. It gives you the quick burst of heightened alertness and energy you need to perform at your best. But, when activated for too long or too often, stress can damage virtually every part of your body, including your mind. In fact, it is the mental implications of stress that seem to be hitting hardest these days.

A recent survey, commissioned by the Mental Health Foundation, reveals that 74 per cent of us felt so overwhelmed in the last year that we were unable to cope. These figures are higher for women than men and for young people (from 18-24) compared to older adults (55+).

What’s causing these heightened levels of mental stress? Sure, it’s many of the obvious things:

–  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).

–  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).

But, these social factors only tell part of the story.

The place you live in has a definite link to  the lifestyle you lead. You wake up every morning, leave the house and rush towards your office. You squeeze on to a cramped carriage, jade walk across a busy street, weave through uncaring crowds and plonk yourself down at a fluorescently lit desk. Your commute has likely taken you no longer than an hour or so, though your brain has been zapped into its stress response numerous times. In this instance, your stress levels bare little relation to last night’s scroll through instagram or your 112 unread WhatsApp messages. You are sweaty, late, stressed, staring a full day of work in the face and all you’ve done is get to work.

It’s no wonder that living in a city, you are 21% more likely to develop an anxiety disorder and 39% more likely to develop a mood disorder.

The thing is, you are inadequately equipped to deal with the stresses imposed on you living in a city (want to read why)? As you know, the long weekend mini-break – the ace up your sleeve – is little more than a ‘paste over the cracks’ sort of remedy. And pasting over cracks is not what we are about. We are not here to offer you cliché health hacks loaded with hope and lacking evidence. Sometimes it’s important simply to highlight the issues, so that we can face them together.