AFP – Meetings, deadlines, and even workload, are far from being the most stressful parts of the average day.
A new study shows that minor worries, such as getting stuck in traffic, are a much greater source of stress in everyday life.
In fact, it is at 7.23am precisely – well before most people arrive at work – that daily stress levels peak.
A major public health issue, stress has been the subject of a multitude of research for many years to determine its most significant causes and to try to reduce the risk of developing associated diseases.
Such diseases include as high blood pressure, certain degenerative diseases, diabetes, and even digestive disorders.
As seen in recent months, the quest for perfection, strained finances, and even living in a poorly heated home can all be sources of stress, and they are far from the only ones.
However, a new study by British company Rescue Remedy, reported by the Daily Mail, reveals that the average person can start feeling stressed early in the day.
The study, which involved about 2,000 British adults, looked at the most stressful time of day.
It also looked at the 50 most stressful events in a typical day for both men and women, and the results were both surprising and unexpected.
Contrary to popular belief, work does not top the list – and is it in fact, far from it.
Instead, it is all the activities that take us from bed to work that can generate high levels of stress, starting with the commute to work.
Getting stuck in traffic tops the list of the most stressful events of the day, according to those surveyed.
But there are many other little everyday worries that can make a day stressful, starting with spilling something – food, drink, makeup, toothpaste – on your clothes, or breaking a bowl, cup or glass early in the day.
These two seemingly minor events round out the top three most stressful events of the day.
But respondents may also panic even earlier in the day about a potential alarm clock failure.
And when that doesn’t happen, they may see their stress levels rise if they spill something on the carpet, burn food, or if a pan boils over on the stove.
While not directly associated with work, these actions – all relatively undramatic at first glance – have one thing in common: they slow down the process of getting to work.
Quoted by the Daily Mail, head of global brands at Rescue Remedy-owner Nelsons Zuzana Bustikova said: “Often when we think ‘drama’ we think big, but the research shows how much of an impact seemingly small niggles can have on our daily moods.
“We know that a poor night’s sleep can offset the whole day, and challenging days can often result in sleepless nights.
“So, it’s no wonder that mornings are when the first drama is experienced.”
Arriving late to work is listed as the 10th most stressful event in a typical day, behind not finding a parking space and tripping over in public.
This is followed by forgetting your bags at the supermarket, getting pooped on by a bird, spilling something on your couch, being locked out of the house, not being able to start the car, or public transport failures.
These are all things that can ruin a day, and raise stress levels.
TIREDNESS, THE TOP REASON
The study does not say whether these stressful events are also viewed as such at weekends, when time pressures are reduced.
Otherwise, the findings are clear that tiredness is reported as the main cause of daily stress for 46 per cent of respondents, just ahead of a broken night’s sleep (36 per cent) and a busy day at work (33 per cent).
Although work is not cited as a stressful event as such – at least not at the top of the ranking – it does seem to disrupt the days (and nights) of British people in one way or another.
All these stressful events leave people feeling frustrated (32 per cent), anxious (23 per cent) or tired (21 per cent).
A vicious circle, in short.
Finally, the study reveals that adults are faced with an average of three stressful events per day, which reportedly occur about an hour earlier for women than their male counterparts.
The World Health Organization (WHO) revealed in March 2022 that cases of anxiety and depression were up 25 per cent worldwide due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
This was due to isolation, fear of infection, lack or overload of work, and financial worries, with a higher prevalence among young people and women.
This has been heightened in recent months by geopolitical tensions and the economic crisis, indicating the importance of finding tools and other resources to limit the risk of depression, burnout and other illnesses related to the peaks of stress to which individuals experience on a daily basis.