- According to Gallup’s annual Global Emotions report, people all over the world are more stressed than ever before.
- It isn’t just adults experiencing these high-stress levels; experts have also observed a rise in the number of children and youth.
- Recent studies have shown that the best way to deal with stress is to alter your perception of it.
According to Gallup’s annual Global Emotions report, people all over the world are more stressed than ever before. Nearly 40% of adults from 146 countries reported having experienced worry or stress the day before the survey was carried out.
And it isn’t just adults experiencing these high-stress levels; experts have also observed a rise in the number of children and youth. According to another study published in EurekAlert, one in five students are so stressed, they’ve considered self-harm or suicide. The immense stress they face has been proven to be detrimental to their health.
It’s no news that stress can trigger anxiety, depression and self-harming behaviour, and cause sleep problems, social withdrawal, angry outbursts and obsessive-compulsive behaviours.
We are moving towards a society where an increasing number of us face mental health problems that stem from high stress levels.
If there’s a stress epidemic, how can we fight it?
It might sound easier said than done but studies have shown that the best way to deal with stress is to alter your perception of it.
The University of Wisconsin conducted a study of 30,000 Americans. Researchers asked them how much stress they’d experienced in the past year and whether they believed stress was harming their health.
The researchers concluded that people in the study who were exposed to large amounts of stress and viewed the stress as harmful had 43% higher risk of dying than people who viewed stress as a helpful response.
More interestingly, those with more positive perceptions of stress had the lowest risk of death out of all involved in the study, even lower than those experiencing very little stress.
A separate study conducted by researchers from King’s College London and the University of Marburg showed students with more negative beliefs about stress experienced more somatic symptoms, such as headaches, tension and fatigue during a stressful end-of-semester exam period, compared with students who had more positive beliefs about stress.
These two studies suggest stress itself may not actually be all that bad; it’s the belief that stress is bad that’s bad.
Kelly McGonigal, psychologist and lecturer at Stanford University, recently published her new book The Upside of Stress where she talks about creating a mindset shift around stress.
You can watch her TedTalk on stress here: