Why does modern society defined by ever-rising levels of stress?
Back in the sixties and seventies, people dreamt of a time when they could kick back and relax more because modern technology was finally there to help with tiresome tasks like cleaning the house. People dreamed of beautiful inventions that made life more comfortable and fundamentally, happier.
Fast forward to the era of the eBay, iPhones and TV sets that could connect to the Internet in a heartbeat.
The present generation has experienced more advanced technology than all of the previous decades combined. Thanks to globalized trade and technological innovations, we can now enjoy the Internet 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Any ordinary laptop or PC assembled around the year 2012 would be at least 1,000,000 times more efficient at calculations than the computer that launched the Apollo rocket to the moon.
We are living the dream.
So the big question now is: why are we still stressed? Or more importantly: why are we even more stressed than our predecessors?
Sociologists, psychologists, and even modern-day economists have all tried to determine at which juncture our era has become entirely and almost inextricably associated with stress.
The studies that tackle the “stress puzzle” are involved in their entirety. However, I have taken the liberty of summarizing the most important findings for everyone’s benefit.
The Roots of Stress
Less Leisure Time – Many people often associate stress with having to deal with childcare and taking care of the household.
However, if we were to compare the amount of time that people spend taking care of their homes and families now, with the amount of time spent doing the same things back in the 1910s, we would arrive at the same average number of hours per week: 52 hours.
The reason for this is that we are now spending more time on additional activities such as grocery shopping and people don’t usually find these activities leisurely.
So even if we have plenty of modern appliances to lessen the time needed to complete different tasks, the time that we could spend on leisure is now being consumed by additional, unavoidable activities and chores.
Stressors Abound – In an ideal world, a person who continually feels stressed at work would be able to unwind and de-stress when he/she comes home.
I’m sure people have managed to accomplish this feat, and I am also confident that they are happy that they “cracked the code.”
However, for 60% of adult Americans, the scenario isn’t as bright and stress-free. The present reality is that more than 50% of all adults in America experience the same level of stress at home and work. That means that an ordinary working adult no longer encounters a reprieve from stress because both environments are deemed stressful.
Harmful Societal Standards – It is no secret that modern society is still ruled by double standards, especially in the workplace.
Despite significant breakthroughs in the field of gender equality, many people still subscribe to the idea that a woman who is too independent and forward-thinking is undesirable.
On the flipside, a man who doesn’t show the same set of skills is also considered a failure in terms of his professional character.
These double standards are toxic in the workplace because it encourages aggressive competition in males but fails to reward females who show drive and initiative. The workplace becomes an extremely frustrating and stressful place for both males and females.
Chronic Overwork – More than 25% of all adult working Americans complain of not having enough time in a day to finish everything they have to do.
To compensate for the scarcity of time, many adults resort to overworking, which usually leads to a “burnout” phase. It can be challenging to recover from burnout if nothing is actively done to reduce a person’s stress levels at home and work.
Fragmentation – The present divorce rate in the United States is a staggering 50%. Which, means that a significant percentage of the entire American population is made up of single-parent families with only one primary earner.
This reality is forcing many single parents (mostly females) to work twice or thrice as hard, to keep up with the daily expenses of their families.
This situation is extremely stressful because leisure time is almost nonexistent and all other free time from work is diverted to taking care of the children and household.