Generation stress: 4 in 5 Brits could be suffering burnout as a result of stress

13 November 2017

Posted in People

  • 82% of Britons feel stressed at least some of the time during a typical week and almost one in ten feels stressed all the time
  • Research reveals Cardiff is the most stressed city in the UK
  • Brighton is the least stressed city in the UK

Britain is in the grip of a stress epidemic, with 82% of Britons feeling stressed at least some of the time during a typical week, new research from AXA has revealed. Meanwhile, almost a tenth of us (8%) feel stressed all of the time.

The findings, which forms part of AXA’s Stress Index, based on a survey of 4,000 UK adults, also reveals that pressure at work, financial worries and concerns about health are the most common causes of stress. Stress, at its most severe, can cause serious burnout and can be debilitating, with people feeling powerless and finding it difficult to manage their problems.

According to the Index, stress in the workplace is strongly linked to the ‘always on’ culture, with almost three in every five Brits (59%) admitting to taking calls outside of working hours, while more than half (55%) check their emails.

Health concerns are dominated by worries about waistlines, with 68% worried about their own weight and 39% worried about the weight of their partners. Concerns about salary prospects (72%) and worries about paying household bills (60%) are the major sources of stress for Brits.

AXA’s research suggests that there is a notable gender divide when it comes to stress. Whilst women are most stressed about their personal finances (43%) and the health of their family and friends (41%), men are, by some distance, most stressed about work (41%), followed by their personal financial situation (32%).

In terms of regional differences, Cardiff emerges as the UK’s most stressed city, with 86% of residents suggesting they feel stressed at least some of the time during a typical week and 13% admitting to feeling constantly stressed, followed by Belfast and Sheffield (both 86% and 7% respectively).

To relieve their stress, the majority of Brits (51%) watch TV, while 42% listen to music and 39% read a book. A further 28% drink alcohol to help combat stress, while more than one in ten (11%) smoke. A third of Brits exercise to relieve stress.

Head shot of Dr Mark Winwood, Consultant Psychologist for AXA Healthcare

These findings illustrate the worrying scale of the UK’s stress epidemic, occurring both in the workplace and at home, impacting people up and down the country. As well as work and finances, health seems to be a concern for a large number of Brits. People are not only worried about their own wellbeing but also the general health of their loved ones.

It is encouraging to see a third of people exercising as a way to combat their stress, which is obviously a much healthier way of unwinding than smoking or drinking. Physical activity is proven to have a positive impact on mental health, even if it is just a walk around the block instead of a trip to the gym.

My hope is that those who took the time to answer our survey are busy, challenged and sometimes feel harassed, and are experiencing the impact of excessive pressure, rather than actually being stressed. I would urge anyone who is feeling unable to cope to speak to a specialist to ease the burden.

Dr Mark Winwood, Director of Psychological Services at AXA Health

Most stressed cities

City Percentage of residents stressed at least some of the time Percentage of residents stressed all the time
Cardiff 86% 13%
Belfast 86% 7%
Sheffield 86% 7%
London 85% 10%
Leeds 85% 8%

Least stressed cities

City Percentage of residents never stressed
Brighton 23%
Newcastle 22%
Liverpool 21%
Cambridge 21%
Birmingham 20%
Leicester 20%

Tips for beating stress

Rest, sleep and eat well

Stress can be combated by making sure you’re awake and alert. Sleep well, take the time to unwind and make sure you eat properly and healthily.

Exercise is vital

Exercise helps reduce stress by releasing endorphins to your brain, and also helps you sleep. Even if you can’t get to the gym, a walk around the block will help.

Put your devices away before bedtime

The inability to switch off from your mobiles, tablets and laptops can seriously affect your sleep. Putting your devices away before you go to bed can help cut your stress levels.

Watching TV is good in the right doses

Many people find watching TV relaxing and use it as a way to combat stress. However, too much TV can mess with your body clock, especially if you are watching late into the evening, so moderation is key.

Seek help from a specialist

There is a difference between being stressed and being busy. Stress can cause serious burn out and can be debilitating. If you are struggling to function, speak to a specialist.


Research for the study was carried out by One Poll. 4000 UK adults were surveyed between 28th July and 8th August 2017.