Stress Becoming A Way of Life For Canadians

63% Of Canadians Say They Feel the Same (21%) or More (42%) Stressed as Compared to Five Years Ago

Canadians Mention Work/Job (45%) as Their Greatest Cause of Stress

50% Say Stress Has a Negative Impact on Their Sleep Patterns and 45% of Employed Canadians Say Workplace Stress Has a Negative Impact on Their Home Life

Exercise (42%) Emerges As Canadians' Top Activity for Reducing Stress

87% Disagree That Seeking Professional Help to Deal with Stress is a Sign of Personal Weakness -- 29% Have or are Seeing a Therapist/Counselor

A Majority (51%) of Canadians Agree that They are More Cynical About Things than They Used to Be

A Quarter (27%) of Canadians Say that Compared to Five Years Ago They Have Less Confidence and Trust in People in General -- 63% Say They Now Have Less Confidence in Politicians

Toronto, ON - The results of a recent Ipsos-Reid/CTV poll reveal that 63 percent of Canadians say they are feeling at least the same (21%) or more (42%) stress in their lives as compared with five years ago. Canadians say that their "work/job" (45%) is the greatest cause of stress in their lives and 50 percent say stress negatively impacts their sleep patterns. Meanwhile, 45 percent of employed Canadians say workplace stress has a negative impact on their home life. "Exercise" (45%) is most frequently mentioned as the way Canadians relieve the stress in their lives and 87 percent disagree that seeking professional help to deal with stress is a sign of personal weakness. Indeed, 29 percent have seen or are seeing a therapist/counselor about their stress. A majority (51%) of Canadians (especially those who feel the most stressed) say they are more cynical than they used to be and a quarter (27%) say that compared to five years ago, they now have less confidence in people in general - 63 percent say they now have less confidence in politicians.

These are the findings of an Ipsos-Reid/CTV poll conducted between September 6th and September 12th, 2000. The poll is based on a randomly selected sample of 1,501 adult Canadians. With a sample of this size, the results are considered accurate to within 177 2.5 percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what they would have been had the entire adult Canadian population been polled. The margin of error will be larger within regions and for other sub-groupings of the survey population. These data were statistically weighted to ensure the sample's regional and age/sex composition reflects that of the actual Canadian population according to the 1996 Census data.

63% Of Canadians Say They Feel the Same (21%) or More (42%) Stressed as Compared to Five Years Ago

Many Canadians (63%) say they are feeling either the same (21%) or more (42%) stress in their lives as compared with five years ago. Of those who say they have more stress in their lives, 21 percent say they have "a lot more" stress while the same number say they are "somewhat" (21%) more stressed.

Moreover, 48 percent of Canadians say they feel "really or seriously stressed" at least once a week, including 16 percent who say they feel really stressed "every day". While stress can be both good and bad, on average Canadians say 47 percent of the stress they face is of the bad variety.

  • Younger Canadians (56%) are much more likely than middle aged (44%) or older (20%) Canadians to say they feel more stress compared with 5 years ago. They are also more likely to say that they face serious stress weekly (59% vs. 54% vs. 28% respectively).
  • Quebecers (52%) and Ontarians (50%) are the most likely to say they face serious stress weekly.
  • Atlantic Canada (45%) and British Columbia (45%) are tied as the regions which are most likely to say the level of stress in their lives has increased over the last five years.
  • In contrast, Quebec (38%) and Saskatchewan/Manitoba (36%) are the least likely to say that they face more stress in their lives now compared with five years ago.

Canadians Mention Work/Job (45%) as Their Greatest Cause of Stress

On an open-ended basis, Canadians (45%) by far say that their "work/job" is the main cause of stress in their lives. Next on the list comes "finances" (22%), followed by "children" (14%), health (9%) and "school/studying" (7%).

  • "School/studying" is mentioned almost exclusively by younger Canadians (17%).
  • Older Canadians (17%) are by far the most likely to say they have no stress in their lives.
  • Middle aged Canadians (18%) are more likely than younger (10%) or older Canadians (12%) to say their children are a source of stress.

50% Say Stress Has a Negative Impact on Their Sleep Patterns and 45% of Employed Canadians Say Workplace Stress Has a Negative Impact on Their Home Life

Half (50%) of Canadians say stress has a negative impact on their sleep patterns and 45 percent of Canadians say stress negatively impacts on their personal health. Other negative impacts of stress for Canadians include:

  • 37 percent say stress negatively affects their relations at home or with family members.
  • 25 percent say stress has a negative impact on their sex life. Interestingly, similar number (21%) say that they have gone to a sex website or called a sex hotline "just to see what these are all about." This is led by BC (28%), Quebec (25%), men (34%) and younger Canadians (38%).
  • 21 percent say stress has a negative impact on their relations with friends.

Among employed Canadians, 45 percent say that the stress they feel in the workplace negatively impacts on their home life. Conversely, three in ten (29%) employed Canadians say that the stress they experience in their home or personal life negatively impacts on their work. Other negative effects of stress among employees include:

  • 26 percent say stress negatively affects the quality of work they do at work.
  • 25 percent say stress negatively affects their relations with co-workers.
  • 13 percent say that they have felt so much stress at work that they have done or seriously thought about doing things to get back at their boss or co-workers.

Furthermore, a quarter (25%) of Canadians agree with the statement "I feel lonely more frequently than I would like to" and a similar number (27%) say that loneliness is "one of my greatest fears."

  • Residents of Ontario (27%) and the Atlantic Provinces (27%) are most likely to say they feel lonely more frequently than they would like.
  • Ontarians (32%) are more likely to say that loneliness is one of their greatest fears.
  • Lower income Canadians (36%) are more likely than middle (25%) or high (16%) income Canadians to say they are more lonely than they would like to be.
  • Similarly, lower income Canadians (32%) are slightly more likely to say that loneliness is one of their greatest fears compared with middle (29%) or upper income Canadians.
  • Canadians with a high level of stress (33%) are more likely than Canadians as a whole (25%) also say they feel lonely more frequently than they would like.
  • Similarly, they are also more likely to say loneliness is one of their greatest fears (34% among very stressed Canadians, 27% among all Canadians).

Exercise (42%) Emerges As Canadians' Top Activity for Reducing Stress

When Canadians are asked to volunteer what they do to relieve stress in their lives, "exercise" (42%) is the most frequently mentioned activity, followed by "relax/spend time by myself" (15%) and "sports/hobbies" (13%). Other mentions include:

  • Read - 11%
  • Make family time - 9%
  • Listen to music - 7%

87% Disagree That Seeking Professional Help to Deal with Stress is a Sign of Personal Weakness

Canadians overwhelmingly disagree (87%) that "seeking professional help to deal with stress is a sign of weakness". Indeed 47 percent of Canadians say that they are currently seeing a therapist or counsellor or have in the past (29%) or have seriously thought about it (18%). Still, many Canadians (39%) say they do not have the degree of control over their life that they would like and a similar number (41%) say they do not have the degree of control over their level of stress that they would like. Interestingly, 15 percent of Canadians say they feel stress when they haven't checked phone or email messages.

Many parents (30%) agree with the statement "I am so busy that my children have had to become more independent than they might otherwise have needed to." Moreover, a majority (57%) of parents say their children are now making "a lot more decisions about their lives and my family than I did when I was a child."

A Majority (51%) of Canadians Agree that They are More Cynical About Things than They Used to Be

A majority (51%) of Canadians agree with the statement "I am more cynical about things than I used to be", including 21 percent who "strongly agree" and 30 percent who "somewhat agree".

  • Residents of Manitoba and Saskatchewan (68%) along with Albertans (62%) are the most likely to say that they have become more cynical.
  • Canadians who feel really stressed at least once a week (57%) are more likely than those who feel seriously stressed only monthly (46%) or those who rarely feel stressed (33%) to say they have become more cynical.

A Quarter (27%) of Canadians Say that Compared to Five Years Ago They Have Less Confidence and Trust in People in General -- 63% Say They Now Have Less Confidence in Politicians

A quarter (27%) of Canadians say that in comparison to five years ago they now have less confidence and trust in people in general. In regard to specific professions, politicians fare the worst, with almost two-thirds (63%) of Canadians saying that they now have less confidence and trust in politicians compared with five years ago. The media fares only slightly better with 51 percent of Canadians saying they have less confidence and trust in the media while 44 percent have less trust and confidence in the public sector as compared to five years ago. In contrast, the private sector (30% less confidence/trust) and public services like police and fire departments (25% less trust/confidence) fare comparatively better.

Similarly, Canadians have relatively high assessments of the confidence and trust in relationships, with only 10 percent saying that they are less confident and trusting in their personal relationships and only 15 percent of employed Canadians who say they are less confident and trusting in their professional or work relationships as compared to five years ago.

For more information on this news release, please contact:

Chris Martyn
Senior Vice President &
Managing Director
Public Affairs
Ipsos-Reid
(416) 324-2900

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