Life

Half of north's working age population highly stressed, survey shows

45 per cent of females in the north report feeling high levels of stress, as compared to 34 per cent of males

TWO fifths of people in the north regularly feel stressed out, while almost half of 35-64 year olds report “considerable levels of stress on a regular basis”, according to new research.

A survey commissioned by Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke revealed that across all age groups, 39 per cent of us regularly feel high levels of stress, with women suffering more than men – 45 per cent of females to 34 per cent of males. A quarter of those surveyed reported not feel any stress at all.

Financial worries and work are the two biggest culprits when it comes to stress – a third of respondents claimed financial problems were what caused them most stress, closely followed by work. Stress due to financial problems is more of a concern for the less affluent in society while stress in the workplace was most prevalent among 25 to 64-year-olds.

“While we will all experience stress in our lives at some point, it's worrying that so many of us are regularly feeling significantly stressed," NI Chest Heart and Stroke public health director Fidelma Carter said.

"In some people, prolonged or frequent stress can lead to an increase in blood pressure, a risk factor for stroke and heart disease. Some people may turn to bad habits as a way of managing their stress such as drinking alcohol, smoking and comfort eating.

The survey was initiated as part of NI Chest Heart and Stroke's ‘Give Stress a Rest campaign' in the run-up to World Stroke Awareness day on Saturday and aims to raise awareness of what causes stress, how to spot the signs and how your coping mechanisms also affect your risk of stroke.

“Throughout the campaign we will be posting lots of articles and healthy and stress-free recipes on our social media as well as giving practical advice on how to cope with stress," Fidelma said.

"We also have a ‘stress test' which people can take confidentially online to assess how stressed they are feeling and offer advice and tips depending on your stress levels. A huge part of the problem is people's inability to recognise when they are stressed and secondly the decisions they make to cope and manage their stress.”

The charity is also launching its Well Mind Programme this month designed to help those in the workplace manage the stress often associated with unhealthy lifestyle habits.

“As the findings of this survey show, work is clearly a huge cause of stress for many of us," programme coordinator Sarah Perry said. "Relaxed and happy employees make for a much happier and productive working environment all round.

"We hope that employers will show a duty of care and responsibility to their employees and partake in these workshops which will offer practical tools on effectively managing and reducing your stress.”

:: For more information on the ‘Give Stress a Rest' campaign and the Well Mind Programme visit www.nichs.org.uk. Take the stress test at https://nichs.org.uk/stresstest.

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