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As the nation’s parents gear up for summer holiday survival, Mintel reveals the answer to the much debated question: which is more stressful, a toddler or teen? It seems toddlers are running rings around their parents as according to latest research from Mintel on stress and wellbeing, toddler tantrums are the greatest source of stress caused by children.

When asked about common causes of stress, more than a third (35%) of parents* admit their children have caused them stress over the past year. But it seems that child-related stress declines dramatically with age. Indeed, while almost half (46%) of parents of children under age four say that their children have caused them stress, this declines to 39% of parents with children aged 5-11 and around a third (36%) of parents with children aged 12-15. Meanwhile, just 28% of parents with children aged 16-18 report child-related stress.

Hera Crossan, Research Analyst at Mintel, said:

“Raising children in today’s challenging economic climate is a battle for many parents, but particularly those with younger offspring. For some, the need to return to work adds to time pressures, whilst the soaring cost of childcare adds to stress around household finances. Both aspects are somewhat alleviated as children enter the teenage years and become more self-sufficient, but this could in turn be storing up problems for the future as the family unit becomes increasingly disjointed.”

Youngs Brits most stressed, but older Brits fail to deal with it

Overall, 91% of 16-24s have experienced stress in the last year, compared to 77% of over-55s. But while stress levels peak among young consumers, older Brits are falling behind in terms of dealing with it. Only 4% of 16-24s who have suffered stress in the last 12 months did nothing to tackle the problem, compared to 23% of over-55s.

Health is a significant stress contributor to older Brits as some four in ten (39%) over-55s have been stressed about physical health problems in the last year compared to an average of 25% of all Brits. Meanwhile, appearance-related stress is rocketing among young women: more than four in ten (42%) women aged 16-24 have experienced stress related to their appearance in 2018 compared to a quarter (26%) in 2016. Some three in ten (28%) 16-24s have been stressed about their mental health in the last year, with half (50%) of these young consumers saying that thinking about de-stressing is stressful in itself.

Overall, the top three sources of stress for today’s Brits are money (41%), work (32%) and physical health problems (25%).

“The constant exposure to unrealistic ideals of beauty is having a strong impact on young women, who increasingly report their physical appearance as a factor of stress and discontent. It is likely that social media and reality TV shows such as Love Island have helped cultivate an unhealthy obsession with appearance perfection that women feel the need to live up to.”

“Over-55s may be less likely to report experiencing stress in the last year than Britain’s youngest adults, and indeed have fewer contributory factors, but the proportion who have been impacted by any stress is still high. While cultural changes have meant that under-25s are much more open to talking about their mental health, older consumers are still much more likely to ‘bottle it up’, and deal with the problem alone.” Hera adds.

Brits get back to nature to help fight stress

It seems that the current spell of hot weather or a holiday in the great outdoors could be the answer for stressed-out Brits as getting some fresh air/going for a walk (44%) is the leading way to deal with stress. In fact, 67% of consumers say that regularly getting back to nature can help improve feelings of wellbeing.

When it comes to products and services to help with stress, mindfulness is proving popular. One in five (19%) Brits have tried mindfulness techniques and would be interested in doing so again, while a further 38% have not tried them but would be willing to do so. But despite the popularity of yoga, mindfulness and meditation, 58% of adults agree it is impossible to completely ‘switch off’.

Finally, although 34% of Brits agree mental wellbeing is more important than physical wellness, just 15% of adults who experienced stress in the last year spoke to a professional. Meanwhile, 41% believe maintaining wellbeing is expensive, with a further 26% saying investing in wellbeing is too time consuming.

“Growing financial pressure on the side of the NHS and the continued consumer-driven stigma surrounding the practice have meant that Brits are not getting the mental healthcare they need. Very few adults who experienced stress in the last year spoke to a professional, suggesting that reduced access to medical services could be a hindrance. However, an increase in app-based support and therapy via video conference could help fill the gap in mental healthcare.” Hera concludes.

*with children aged 0-18 in the household