The average adult has seen their stress and anxiety levels rise by almost 50 per cent in recent weeks – with those aged over 60 seeing the biggest increase.
A study of 2,000 adults found that before the lockdown, an average of 59 minutes a day was spent feeling under pressure or worried about things such as work, finances or health. This has now risen to an hour and 28 minutes per day since the pandemic took hold as fears about money, job security, the economy and health grow.
But the study, by wellbeing brand Healthspan, found that while 20-somethings now feel anxious for an hour and 45 minutes each day – an increase of 23 minutes – the over 60s have seen this figure almost double. Previously, they spent just 37 minutes a day worrying, but this has now risen to an hour and seven minutes.
Fifty-somethings have also gone from feeling anxious for 57 minutes a day to more than an hour-and-a-half now.
It also emerged one in five adults – including 16 per cent of those over 60 – believe they are experiencing anxiety for the first time ever as they adjust to a new normal. Worryingly, more than two thirds who are experiencing anxiety said this was manifesting itself in physical symptoms.
Dr Meg Arroll, a chartered psychologist working with Healthspan, said: “For a long time, young people have been thought to be most likely to suffer from an increase in stress and anxiety as they find their way in the world, or juggle young families and work. But while they are still spending a large part of their day feeling anxious, those over 60 have seen the biggest jump in the time they spend suffering from stress and anxiety in recent weeks.
“There is a real worry about people’s mental health as they adapt to a new normal – particularly for older people who may see more changes than most in the way they live their lives in the coming months, leading to feelings of isolation, vulnerability and helplessness.”
The study also found 47 per cent of adults admitted they have times where they feel constantly worried or anxious.
Financial worries are the biggest cause of stress, followed by health issues, a lack of sleep and weight gain. A loved one’s health issues and safety, work and the economy are also among the most common concerns.
Three quarters of those polled have even lost sleep due to their anxiety – an average of four hours a week. Others have experienced physical symptoms as a result of their stress, including headaches or migraines (40 per cent), stomach discomfort (38 per cent) and palpitations (32 per cent). A loss of appetite (22 per cent), a dwindling libido (16 per cent) and even dizziness (14 per cent) are also among the symptoms suffered when feeling stressed or anxious.
Sufferers have also made a mistake at work (17 per cent), cancelled a night out (16 per cent) or rowed with a friend or family member (14 per cent). But almost four in 10 admitted to turning to food and comfort eating when they feel under pressure. And more than one in 10 have called in sick to work, 23 per cent have argued with a partner and one in twenty have even seen it end a relationship.
Top 20 causes of stress and anxiety
1. Financial worries
2. Health issues
3. Not getting enough sleep
4. Putting on weight
5. A family member’s health issues
6. Family safety
8. The economy
9. Being late
10. Running out of time for something
11. Being in debt
12. Missing out on life experiences
13. Your diet
15. A heavy workload
16. Dental problems
17. Remembering everything you need to do
18. Your appearance
19. Computer/ tech problems
20. An argument with your partner