Stress in the News

Stress in the News

Last weekend’s Times had a whole supplement devoted to stress – leading with the headline “Anxious Britain” and the figure that 70% of people are stressed. Now as a resilience and stress management training provider I thought I better give it a read. I’ve seen a bunch of other stress management articles in mainstream news media in the last six months – perhaps influenced by the recession I wonder – though these things tend to be cyclical. A number of themes have emerged for me looking at stress in the news, here are what I regard as the positive and negative themes:

Positives aspects of stress in the news

  • That it’s in the news at all is a good start. Britain seems to be overcoming its repressed upper lip and admitting there is an issue with stress in society and stress at work.
  • A wide variety of approaches are discussed from numerous types of therapy to meditation and diet in the Times article. While not quite integral (which would how this diversity fits together) it is a broad spectrum.
  • Sex and stress is being discussed seriously – again the British are finally getting it up…I mean growing up…in this area
  • Mindfulness has gone mainstream. From hippy beginnings to the modern boardroom – meditation is moving up in the world! (Happy to be a part of this trend myself).
  • The increasing stress and mental health problem of children is being recognised. Do you think all those exams are a good idea? Or perhaps it’s part of the wider “broken Britain” debate?

Negative aspects of stress in the news

  • Confession Time? While I’m a big fan of healthy expression of mental health related issues I also do not enjoy US style confessionals, gushing and blaming other people for ones problems. Along with the repression there is also something very healthy in the personal responsibility, adaptive “Dunkirk Spirit” and self-management of the traditional British response to stress.
  • When people talk about “stress” as a personal psychological issue the deeper underlying societal causes are not examined. Even at a personal level the idea of stress can be somewhat superficial and just a nice way of saying “suffering” or “unhappiness”.
  • Related to this many of the therapies and solutions offered were quick fixes unlikely to address the root causes of anyone’s stress. Stress band-aids aren’t the answer.
  • Celebrities are given more column inches than experts – even in the Times. Dizzy Rascal is not a stress management expert.
  • Overly simplistic questionnaires and typologies are par for the course i mainstream media.

All in all though I’m pleasantly surprised that stress is being discussed and how it is. Kudos to the Times and the other news media sources for covering it. Long may intelligent debate on the subject continue.