Research reveals life's most stressful situations
08 Oct 2021

First dates, work presentations and making phone calls to strangers are among the top 30 most stressful situations in life, according to research.

A study of 2,000 UK adults also found deadlines for work, bumping into an ex-partner and forgetting something important are among the top things which cause unnecessary distress.

Running late to something like an appointment or a meeting proved to be more traumatic than having a job interview.

Two thirds admit their skin suffers when they are stressed, either by developing problem skin or dryness. Lacking sleep (45%) and struggling to concentrate (36%) are other side effects.

Almost three quarters will avoid stressful situations (72%), while half will deliberately put them off if they are already feeling anxious.

It emerged stress manifests itself in many ways, with more than half of adults becoming more irritable and 54% feeling depressed.

The study found other things likely to stress out Brits include worry about upsetting a friend, a disagreement with a partner or family problems.

Almost half of those surveyed by OnePoll said their stress is caused by lots of little things rather than one big thing.

Lorraine Perretta, Head of Nutrition at skincare supplement brand, Advanced Nutrition Programme, which commissioned the research, said: “Stress can be nerve wracking, exhausting, and motivating all at the same time. We have seen a rapid rise of ‘micro-stressors’ in the recent years and one thing is very clear – these have an impact on us both externally and internally. Stress can affect our health by triggering stomach issues and insomnia, but also causing skin problems, such as dryness and hyperpigmentation.”

And when the worry does kick in, 31% of those who as a result suffer from skin issues believe they look more tired, 21% get dark circles around the eyes and 15% experience hyperpigmentation (uneven skin tone and dark spots).  

Three quarters will then go on to feel even worse due to their irritated skin, and one in four will stop taking care of it during these periods.

And 28% of women would try to cover up any problem skin with makeup when it occurs.

In addition to immediate effects on our wellbeing and mood, long-term stress generally impairs overall health, linked to weakened immunity, poor hormonal control and accelerated ageing. Commenting on the survey findings, Dr Gaby Prinsloo, Medical Director at International Institute for Anti-Ageing (iiaa), says: “When we are stressed, the brain triggers the release of adrenaline and cortisol, two important stress hormones, into the body.” She explains “Stress hormones act directly on the skin to alter skin cell growth, increase sebum production, increase inflammation and impair immunity.”

According to the research, common strategies to combat stress include reading a book, gardening, talking to friends or family about it or spending time with a pet.

Other techniques include saying no to things, mindfulness, and even sex.

Although, only one quarter admitted to eating healthier food to tackle intense periods, as two in five are more likely to eat fast food instead.

“A comprehensive skincare plan can ameliorate stressed skin, but easing stress in general is vital for wellbeing,” adds Dr Gaby, recommending relaxing practices before sleep, regular exercise to boost serotonin levels in the brain, balanced diet and breathing exercises, as some of the first steps to reduce the feeling of stress.


  1.        Health problems
  2.        Financial problems
  3.        Family problems
  4.        Running late
  5.        Job interview
  6.        Forgetting something important you had to do
  7.        Not being able to get to sleep
  8.        A disagreement with a partner
  9.        Traffic
  10.    Worrying you have upset a friend

Read more about our research in The Express and The Mirror.