There are a lot of stats floating around about stress levels being at an all-time high, and I’m sure there’s something in that. Personally, I’m sceptical – controversial, I know, but here’s some food for thought. What if we’re actually in a period of dramatically increased awareness of chronic stress and its impacts on health? What if people have always been more or less as stressed as we are now, but we’re only just starting to cotton on? What if we now have more resources for managing stress than ever before in human history?
You get my drift. Of course, the two positions aren’t mutually exclusive. It could be that stress is at an all-time high, and we’re becoming more able to identify and manage it. Perhaps the two things go together as part of a process, and we’re in transition between peak stress and knowing how to address it. Workplace stress management workshops are an example of this being indicated, with their growing ubiquity pointing to both a problem and a solution.
Another example is increased media coverage of the need for education around stress management for high school students. The pressure of contemporary exam formats and university entrance conditions is perceived by many as greater than it was in the past, and the number of students experiencing anxiety disorders and the like is also thought to be higher. At the same time, there is arguably more awareness around these conditions and support available than in the past.
At the end of the day, it seems to me like a matter of empowering people to take control of their own health. Of course, a big part of this is increasing public knowledge of the adverse effects of excessive stress. This will push institutions such as schools and workplaces to create conditions conducive to stress reduction, or at least to managing stress.
Disclaimer: I’m no expert, just an engaged citizen.