We hear it every day – life is getting harder, house prices and personal debt
levels are escalating and street crime is up. But what impact do these
‘external’ events have on our own personal levels of anxiety, and which of us is
best equipped to cope with increased stress?
In a study called Society Anxiety, cognitive neuropsychologist Dr David Lewis
looked at different job sectors, as well as generational splits regarding
Overall, the study found that modern life is causing major stress and anxiety
for Britons. More than half (56%) admitted to sleepless nights due to issues
such as terrorist threats, health risks and identity theft.
When it comes to job sector differences, the findings are enlightening. The
study found that 58% of accountants are realists when it comes to modern life
and its anxieties, but the national average was lower at 56%. Realists admit to
being anxious about certain issues, but tend to take practical steps to deal
with any stress.
Around one-in-three (34%) accountants and people in financial occupations are
risk-takers, who seldom feel anxious or lose sleep over potential threats such
as global warming, health threats or health scares. Again, there were more
accountants who were risk-takers than the national average (32%).
Too close for comfort
For accountants, issues that are closer to home cause the most anxiety.
Rising house prices and mortgages are in the number one spot with 49% of
accountants placing them in the top position of issues that cause them anxiety.
Almost half (43%) worry about identity theft and UK terrorist attacks. Worries
about health and the NHS were also relatively high too, with 40% of accountants
worried about hospital super-bugs and 37% worried about NHS cutbacks (general
concerns over rising crime was also cited by 37% as a cause for anxiety).
On the whole, we often feel these events to be beyond our control and this
sense of helplessness is the third factor that serves to intensify our other
concerns. Societal anxieties have risen sharply in the past five years and the
trend looks set to continue.
World events will continue to cause anxiety. The important issue is how we
handle these anxieties. Often, our first instinct is to try and ignore what’s
worrying us and hope that the issue will amend itself. But worries tend to
increase the longer we avoid dealing with the issues. By facing up to the things
we can change, we often find that our anxiousness lessens.
It’s also important to recognise what you can and can’t change. Some things
that cause you stress and anxiety are well within your reach to change. On the
other hand, sometimes things that cause our anxiety are beyond our direct
control – try and reduce the amount of time you spend dwelling on these issues –
if you can’t change it, try to move on!
Modern life is a complicated business. Consumers have never had so many
opportunities to choose from, so many difficult decisions to make and so little
time to spare. But as they say, a problem shared is a problem halved.
Richard Coates is strategic marketing director at CPP
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