Women are spending the equivalent of almost an entire month of the year worrying – and more than half said it is having an impact on their health.
A study of 2,000 adults found women spend an average of almost two hours a day feeling worried or stressed, with two thirds of this time spent feeling anxious about other people rather than themselves.
In comparison, men spend just an hour-and-a-half worrying each day, with almost one in 10 admitting none of that time is spent thinking of others.
Almost two thirds (64 per cent) of women have periods where they feel constantly worried, with what’s going on in the world at the moment – including the pandemic, protests and fears about the economy – the biggest concern.
But the health of loved ones, their family’s safety and needing to care for older parents is also causing them to feel stressed.
It also emerged women are around twice as likely to worry about their children’s or grandchildren’s diets, health, education and future than men are.
Worryingly, 57 per cent of those polled, by supplement brand Healthspan, admitted this leads to them neglecting their own health over fears about how it would affect their family.
And a staggering 72 per cent of women have dismissed worrying health symptoms, simply putting them down to stress or tiredness instead.
Chartered psychologist Dr Meg Arroll, on behalf of Healthspan, said: “Because women’s stress response is all about the ‘tend-and-befriend’, rather than the classic fight-or-flight, women will quite naturally worry about their loved ones.
“Women’s role in our species’ survival is to take care of others, so when there’s constant disturbing news headlines, competing caring responsibilities or concerns over putting food on the table, it’s not surprising that stress levels skyrocket.
“Managing all these competing demands often results in high levels of stress which exhibits itself in behaviours such as comfort eating, poor sleep and anxiety.
“This is why self-care is so very important – remember the old adage “put your oxygen mask on first before helping others.
“This can be achieved by managing stress through techniques such as relaxation exercises and spending time in nature, eating well and adhering to a regular sleep routine.
“There’s growing evidence that products which include CBD (cannabidiol) oil may help to tackle anxiety-related disorders, which impact our ability to fall and stay asleep.
“In addition, self-care treats like bath salts which include magnesium can boost levels of this depleted mineral during stressful times, plus various non habit-forming sleep aids such as Valerian and 5HTP should be considered when dealing with poor sleep.”
The study also found 47 per cent of women feel constantly overwhelmed, with almost a third turning to comfort eating to cope with their worries.
But with 37 per cent of women worried about putting on weight, compared to only 18 per cent of men, this leads to a vicious cycle of feeling stressed, comfort eating and then being anxious about that weight gain.
One in four women have even suffered a panic attack as a result of the stress they are under and 13 per cent have experienced chest pains.
Almost 14 per cent of women polled, via OnePoll, feel they have developed a health complaint as a result of increased stress levels, while another 19 per cent think it has made an existing issue worse.
Not getting enough sleep was also a concern for two-fifths of women.
Dr Sarah Brewer, Healthspan medical director said: “We know from research that stress depletes the body of vital nutrients used up during stress responses, including vitamin D.
“Between 30-40 per cent of the UK population have been shown to be deficient in Vitamin D and, as well as reducing immunity, this may also have an adverse effect on sleep.
“Analysis of nine studies, involving 9,397 people, found that those with vitamin D deficiency had a 50 per cent increased risk of sleep disorders, with poor sleep quality, short sleep duration and sleepiness.
“Sleep is a key copying strategy and without enough sleep people may experience low mood, lethargy, less resilience and more stress.
“When people with low levels of vitamin D in their blood were given vitamin D supplements, they fell asleep more quickly, slept for longer, and experienced less chronic pain, for example.
“Other vitamins and minerals which are believed to be important for sleep are B group vitamins, magnesium and calcium.
“Diet should always come first but it may be worth considering a supplement and Public Health England recommends everyone takes a vitamin D supplement – advice is to take Vitamin D3, such as the Healthspan Vitamin D3 10ug, once a day during the summer months.”
Top 40 things women worry about
1. What’s going on in the world at the moment
2. Not getting enough sleep
3. Financial worries
4. Putting on weight
5. A relative or friend’s bad health
6. Getting older
7. Family safety
8. Your appearance
9. Being late or running out of time to do something
11. Whether what you’re doing is good enough
12. Remembering everything you need to do
13. Your lack of motivation
14. Your own bad health
15. Growing old alone
16. Getting through a to-do list
17. Parents ageing and needing care
18. Children/grandchildren staying healthy
19. Children’s/grandchildren’s future
20. Whether or not people like you
21. Your job security
22. Wondering whether you exercise enough
23. The environment
24. Dental problems
25. A heavy workload
26. Job prospects
27. Being in debt
28. Troubles/ arguments with a partner
29. Wondering whether you eat healthily enough
30. Your relationship
31. Your friendships
32. Having to learn new skills that are out of your comfort zone
33. Wondering if your children/ grandchildren are eating the right foods and doing enough exercise
34. Children/grandchildren getting a good education
35. Computer problems
36. A bill landing on your doormat
37. Your partner’s job security
38. Moving house
39. Your pension plan
40. Having no WiFi/phone signal