Half of us say we suffer high or overwhelming stress, and among 18-24 year olds it rises to two thirds according to DR.VEGAN's latest research.
Our research of 2,213 men and women across all age groups and all diet types between October 2020 - January 2021 shows just how big an impact stress can have on your life.
We're passionate about helping you understand your diet and how it impacts your mind and body so you can make healthier lifestyle choices.
How many people are affected by stress?
49% of respondents say they suffer from high or overwhelming stress. It's a big number.
The Covid pandemic, lockdown and all the implications of these have played their part, but we know stress was a big issue even before then. A major study into the mental health impact of the pandemic1 found that in the early stages of lockdown 57% of those who took part reported symptoms of anxiety, with 64% recording common signs of depression, showing the rise of stress levels in the UK.
It is also worth recognising that whilst many people state they believe they can manage their stress, they may still suffer from physiological symptoms of stress without formally acknowledging them.
Stress is having the biggest impact on people under 45, and in particular 18-24 year olds. The demands of young family life, building a career, managing the finances and worrying about money affect us all, while the stresses of studying and the uncertainty of what lies ahead is affecting younger people.
What's the impact of stress?
Two thirds of people who suffer high levels of stress suffer from poor sleep, and a lack of sleep can increase your risk of obesity, heart disease and diabetes.
That's not to mention the effects of poor sleep on your ability to focus, your mood and energy levels. Addressing your stress levels can not only have a huge impact on your sleep but also your overall health.
If you suffer from poor sleep, read our research into 'The Sleep Problem' for more details on who it affects and how, and our blog from our expert nutritionists on 'How your diet can improve your sleep'.
Poor focus and concentration
To add to our woes, the biggest impact of stress is on our focus and concentration.
The results are startling. We are 5x more likely to suffer poor focus and concentration if we're stressed than if we're stress free.
Stress is an energy sapper, leaving us feeling tired and drained.
Energy - or a lack of - is one of the biggest factors affecting our lifestyles, irrespective of stress. Work, studying, diet, pandemics, a lack of exercise and 'me time' can all drain our energy. Add stress into the mix and our energy levels take a body blow.
If you're looking for ways to improve your energy and reduce stress through your diet, read our nutritionists blog on 'Tips to boost your energy and reduce your stress.'
We all know it but we don't like to be told it. When we're stressed we can get grumpy, short-tempered, impatient, irrational, and often it is those closest to us - family, friends and colleagues - who we take it out on.
We're more than twice as likely to suffer mood swings if we're suffering high stress rather than manageable stress.
The impact of stress on our mood is real. Stress can create a virtual circle of irrational behaviour, poor decision making, depression, and many other factors associated with mood swings.
Your diet really can improve your mood. Read our blog '5 foods to improve your mood'.
Poor skin and hair
Aside from the the silent impacts of stress on our heart and mental health, our research shows those with high or overwhelming stress are more than twice as likely to suffer from poor skin and hair compared to those who are stress free.
Stress is known to affect our eating habits, causing us to eat at irregular times, choose unhealthy foods and distract us from looking after our health through diet, lifestyle and exercise.
Our research shows 4 in 10 people who suffer from high or overwhelming stress struggle to lose weight.
What does it all mean?
We all know there is no benefit to stress, and we also know stress can creep up on us without us realising it.
Our research highlights the tell-tale signs to look out for. Not sleeping so well? Putting on weight? Lacking in energy? Experiencing regular mood swings? Poor skin? These can all be signs of stress becoming unmanageable and getting on top of you.
Look out for them, be alert to the early warning signs and try to nip them in the bud. Focus on doing a few simple things well:
- Eat regularly and don't skip meals
- Keep well hydrated
- Lower your caffeine and alcohol intake
- Remove unhealthy processed foods
- Exercise, even if only for a brisk 30 minute walk
Above all, it's always good to talk, so if you're feeling stressed, make sure you speak to someone and tell them how you feel. And you can always get in touch with the DR.VEGAN team, we'd love to hear from you. Our Facebook Community is a kind and supportive place to connect with others, simply click the image below to join for free today.
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1Professor Sir Graham Thornicroft, 2020. The Silent Pandemic: Covid-19 and mental health. Professor of Community Psychiatry at King’s College London.2021-02-10 20:00:35 +0000