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We actively monitor change covering more than 150 key elements of life.

A Mundane Comedy is Dom Kelleher's new book. Extracts will appear on this site and across social media from late 2021. Please get in touch with any questions or thoughts.

The 52:52:52 project, launching both on this site and on Twitter in late 2021 will help you address 52 issues with 52 responses over 52 weeks.

What's Changing? - Anxiety



Please see below selected recent anxiety-related change.


See also:


October 2021


September 2021

  • A global study by Qualtrics found 42% of people have experienced a decline in mental health. Specifically, 67% of people are experiencing increases in stress while 57% have increased anxiety, and 54% are emotionally exhausted. 53% of people are sad, 50% are irritable, 28% are having trouble concentrating, 20% are taking longer to finish tasks, 15% are having trouble thinking and 12% are challenged to juggle their responsibilities.


August 2021

  • A Psyche article argued that in small doses, worry, rumination and stress can be positive forces in our lives, and serve an evolutionary purpose to protect us from harm. It’s only when they become persistent and overwhelming that it’s problematic. The good news is that we can stop this from happening by learning to control worry and rumination, which can then have long-term benefits for your lifestyle and health. Despite recent statistics showing that we are an increasingly stressed population, there are simple and evidence-based steps to help manage worry and intrusive thoughts


July 2021

  • Many people reported social anxiety about returning to the office, still feeling unsettled. After over a year of remote work, and seeing co-workers only on screen, the idea of seeing everyone again in person can feel overwhelming. And since the Covid landscape was still in flux in mid-2021, it was hard to feel sure about how long the “return to normal” will last. Many people have become used to only seeing colleagues on screens and are unsure what future office-lives hold in store. Transitions naturally spike our anxiety, whenever we’ve avoided something, we may feel anxious about returning to it and social relationships and boundaries have changed.


June 2021


March 2021


January 2021


December 2020

  • The pandemic and subsequent work-from-home boom have increased people's reliance on digital communication - and it’s elevating anxiety and paranoia at work. In the absence of impromptu office interactions - which help to “reassure us we’re in good standing” - small virtual moments can be being picked apart as uncertainty about status proliferates. Employees are increasingly stressing out about how they appear onr Zoom, or wondering whether unanswered messages mean they’re going to get fired, exacerbating stress among those working from home.


November 2020

  • Ipsos’ What Worries the World survey tracks public opinion on the most important social and political issues across 27 countries today, drawing on 10 years of data to place the latest scores in context. October 2020’s results showed that people worldwide continue to say coronavirus is one of the main problems facing their country today. A total of 44% select this issue, placing it in first spot once again. Meanwhile, unemployment is second with 38%.
  • In stressful times, anxious thoughts can prove harder to ward off. Yet, there are ways to worry more mindfully, claimed The New York Times. Experts suggest we accept our worries by observing them neutrally before deciding whether they’re worth acting on or not. They also propose listing our worries and scheduling in time to dedicate to them - literally popping 30 minutes into the calendar - to reduce the hours spent worrying and then planning times outside of worry where we can be fully present.
  • Doing What Matters in Times of Stress: An Illustrated Guide is a World Health Organisation stress management guide for coping with adversity. The guide aims to equip people with practical skills to help cope with stress. A few minutes each day are enough to practice the self-help techniques. The guide can be used alone or with the accompanying audio exercises. Informed by evidence and extensive field testing, the guide claims to be for anyone who experiences stress, wherever they live and whatever their circumstances.
  • The School of Life noted that, when faced with adversity, many of us opt for a peculiar coping strategy: we try to be as productive as possible. It’s not a disaster: it’s an opportunity to set ourselves new goals. At one level, this impulse is understandable. Since the world has become unpredictable and frightening, we’re trying to reassert what little control we have over our own workload and schedule. But it may also be deeply unhelpful: compounding our stress by imposing unrealistic expectations on ourselves. The times are trying enough as it is: we should be aiming to put less pressure on ourselves, not more. In the depths of a crisis, a less punishing and more beneficial use of one’s time would be a combination of self-care and self-reflection. We should seek out undemanding pleasures and pastimes and, if we must be productive, we should apply ourselves to the task of understanding our own minds, so that we’re able to get to grips with the root cause of our anxieties and hopes. 
  • People tend to think that being neurotic - persistent worrying, rumination and overall anxiety - is bad news: bad for our health, bad for our relationships with others, bad for our careers, but research suggests neuroticism has a silver lining, according to the BBC. People who are both neurotic and highly conscientious are more likely to put their worrying to good use. These "healthy neurotics" convert their worries into motivation to take healthy, productive actions, like exercising more, eating better and taking overall better care of themselves
  • Many COVID-19 survivors are likely to be at greater risk of developing mental illness, psychiatrists claimed, after a large study found 20% of those infected with the coronavirus are diagnosed with a psychiatric disorder within 90 days. Anxiety, depression and insomnia were most common among recovered COVID-19 patients in the study who developed mental health problems. The researchers from Oxford University also found significantly higher risks of dementia.
  • A variety of studies show that too much time spent on social media can stress us out, leave us anxious and depressed, and ironically increase feelings of loneliness. These findings have been confirmed for both adults and children. Big Thing pointed to a variety of ways to make avoiding checking your feeds every six seconds a little easier, including the following: delete your apps; set time limits on your usage; consider what you're following; set a day of rest and turn off notifications,


October 2020

  • Remote workers are constantly navigating between different forms of technology throughout the day, whether answering emails, joining video calls or turning to a streaming service to relax after work. Constant technological stimulation and feeling the pressure to be accessible 24/7 is leading to rising levels of "technostress", particularly among those who feel they need to be seen at work, or those doing creative work who find technology disruptive.
  • Research conducted on mice suggests repeated heavy drinking causes synaptic dysfunctions that lead to anxiety. For the study, researchers simulated a 10-day alcohol binge on one of two groups of mice. One group was given 1.5 grams per kilogram of ethyl alcohol each day, which translates to about five daily drinks for an adult human. The other was given water. After 10 days, the researchers analysed images of the mice brains, and conducted behavioural tests to measure anxiety. They found that the mice that had binged alcohol exhibited significantly more anxiety-like behaviors, reported Big Think.


September 2020

  • According to BupaSeptember can be an unsettling month and often bring new worries. Dr Arun Thiyagarajan, Medical Director at Bupa Health Clinics, says: "It’s not uncommon for us to suspend our usual routine and habits during the summer months, which can make it harder to adjust back to normality." "Much like how we used to feel as children when September saw us going back to school, this period brings a sense of trepidation and naturally we may feel a bit unsettled," he adds. "While September isn't officially the start of Autumn, it does feel like a change of season, which can also play a part in our mood and mental health. Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is a type of depression that comes and goes in a seasonal pattern."
  • From eating to dating, we are presented with endless choices. But is this leading to lives full of anxiety and guilt? Sociologist Renata Salecl used examples from popular culture to show that the freedom to choose might not be making us as happy as we think.


August 2020


July 2020

  • With the coronavirus pandemic continuing to play out around the world, business leaders are trying to anticipate what will come next. The most significant development EY tracked globally was the emergence of what it called the “Anxious Consumer”. In lockdown, people around the world have been worrying about how the pandemic will change the way they live. Even as consumers are returning to “normal life,” many remain deeply concerned about picking up where they left off. If this trend repeats in a significant way across other markets, organisations around the world will have to adapt to serve a far more worried and cautious consumer.
  • Financial stress is an underrecognised cause of mental health challenges. For many marginalised communities, financial instability is a mental health crisis. Data from the American Psychological Association shows that people often cite money as a top contributor to their overall stress and that anxiety about money is most likely to occur among people with lower incomes. Yet talking about money remains taboo, and discussions of mental health and self-care rarely include tangible ways to deal with the unique agony of financial struggles or the structural injustices that financial stressors stem from. 


June 2020

  • According to Mind, the mental health charity, many workers experience mild paranoid thoughts from time to time. These might include fears that your work is not up to scratch, that you are being excluded, or colleagues are gossiping about you. Roderick Kramer, professor of organisational behaviour at Stanford Business School, describes the trigger for paranoia as unexpected events - such as a merger or redundancies. To fill the void of uncertainty, his research finds, people tend to become “hypervigilant”, scrutinising the behaviour of peers and bosses for meaning  - making people think even more about whether they are being noticed, reports the FT.
  • The equivalent of 19 million adults in Great Britain say they had high levels of anxiety in the first weeks of lockdown, figures from the Office for National Statistics (ONS) suggested, reproted the BBC. The data covering the period 3 April to 10 May showed: the number of people reporting high levels of anxiety more than doubled compared to pre-lockdown levels; older people were more anxious than younger people, with those aged 75 and older twice as likely at those aged 16-24 to report high anxiety during lockdown and feeling lonely was the factor most strongly linked with high anxiety. Juggling work and homeschooling commitments was a source of stress for parents.
  • Big Think noted that. according to a 2016 Stanford University School of Medicine study, there are three areas of our brains that change during a state of hypnosis - and this could actually be used to benefit us. Scientists scanned the brains of 57 people during a guided hypnosis session, similar to one that may be used to help treat anxiety, pain, or trauma. First, there is a decrease in dorsal anterior cingulate activity. Next, there is an increase in the connection between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the insula. Finally, there are reduced connections between the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and the medial prefrontal cortex. 


May 2020

  • Globally, according to the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, an estimated 284 million people had an anxiety disorder as of 2017, making it the most prevalent mental disorder worldwide. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, “Stress is a response to a threat in a situation. Anxiety is a reaction to the stress.” Anxiety is fear of what might happen in the future. Sometimes that fear is rational and sometimes not. And sometimes it’s about something that will happen in three minutes (stepping onto a stage to make a presentation, for example) or in 30 years (having enough money to retire). In the United States, anxiety is the most common mental illness, affecting more than 40 million adults each year. Data from the National Institute of Mental Health has indicated that about 30% of Americans experience clinical anxiety at some point in their lives.  
  • Indeed, anxiety appears to be a galloping epidemic. Since its introduction as a medical condition in the 1980s, anxiety has risen from 2% of cases to the most commonly diagnosed mental illness. 
  • Nearly half of the UK's over-16s said they experienced "high anxiety" as the country went into lockdown, according to Office for National Statistics (ONS) statistics. Anxiety levels were highest among an estimated 8.6 million people whose income fell, according to the weekly survey on the impact of coronavirus, with an estimated 2.6 million people saying they were struggling to pay bills. Renters and the self-employed were also particularly affected. Measures of well-being were at their lowest levels since records began in 2011, the ONS said. The survey suggested that more than 25 million people - 49.6% of over-16s in Britain - rated their anxiety as "high", more than double the amount who did so at the end of 2019.


April 2020

  • Far more than people tend to realise, many of us are - in private - deeply anxious. There is so much that worries us across our days and nights: whether our hopes will come true, whether others will like us, whether the people we care about will be OK, whether we can escape humiliation and grief. Too often, we bottle up our anxieties or try to avoid looking at them directly. We are ashamed of how worried we are and end up feeling isolated and yet more worried. None of this is necessary. Anxiety is deeply normal and, like so much else that troubles our minds, it can be understood and brought under our control. We all deserve to wake up every day without a sense of foreboding.
  • Stress and anxiety are often used interchangeably, but they are two very distinct functions and feelings. Stress is caused by a known source and can trigger feelings of anger, sadness, or irritability, while anxiety is defined as a feeling of fear, panic, or dread that could very well not have a known trigger. Where the confusion happens is that stress oftentimes can trigger anxiety - someone whose body experiences consistent surges of stress hormones is at higher risk of developing an anxiety disorder. Recent research suggested possible connections between chronic stress and anxiety and structural degeneration of the hippocampus, which leads to impaired functioning of the prefrontal cortex.


July 2019

  • Coping with Anxiety warned that more and more people - about 50 million of them in the U.S. alone in 2015 – suffer from acute anxiety. Of course, people confronted difficulties in the past, but the book argues that modern life promotes anxiety through the rapidity of change in modern societies, a lack of agreement on moral and social norms to live by and an increasing disaffection with postindustrial societies' functioning.
  • Research by Triodos Bank suggests increasing numbers are feeling overwhelmed by the climate crisis, with up to a third of the public suffering from 'eco anxiety'. For example, just over a third (34%) of the British public report feeling anxious because of the environmental crisis and 29% of feel overwhelmed by the crisis, rising to 40% amongst younger people aged 16-24.


May 2019

  • The School of Life notes that all of us worry to some degree but, for many, the worry is constant and all-consuming. We don’t just worry about the gas bill, or the bin schedule. We worry that our friends secretly hate us; that we’ll be abruptly fired from our jobs; that our partners are planning on leaving us for good. Catastrophe is not a remote possibility but an inevitability - a matter of when, not if.  Though our dread manifests itself in endless different ways, it has a root cause. It is not that we have been marked out for disaster (much as it might feel that way). We’re anxious because, in some vague yet profound way, we dislike ourselves. Our fears are not rational appraisals of the threats we face, but embodiments of the punishment we feel, at heart, we deserve. 
  • Quartz noted that climate anxiety is growing. And it’s not just the increasingly well-understood effects of living through related catastrophes like fire and drought - the American Psychological Association has recognised that being inundated by the bad news of a slow-moving disaster, delivered 24/7 by news and social media, could be wearing us down.


April 2019

  • The School of Life believes that we are often terrified of so many things: disgrace, illness, unemployment, our mortality, the suffering and death of loved ones. When these fears arise, we are often encouraged, out of kindness, to think of the best-case scenarios. This is a well-meaning move, but it also unintentionally leaves our fears to fester and they can fill us with unnamed dread and sometimes loom far larger than they should. Therefore, the opposite move  involves looking our anxieties directly in the eye, refusing to be cowed by them and examining them exhaustively so as to drain them of their debilitating power. Doing this can bring us to an important realisation: we could cope, even  if the worst did come to the worst.
  • There are feelings that exist in an ‘unprocessed’ form within us. A great many worries may, for example, remain disavowed and uninterpreted and manifest themselves as powerful directionless anxiety. Under their sway, we may feel a compulsive need to remain busy, fear spending any time on our own or cling to activities that ensure we don’t meet what scares us head on.
  • A key cause of high anxiety can be self-hatred. People who have grown up not to like themselves very much at all have an above average risk of suffering from extremes of anxiety, for if one doesn’t think one is worthy, it must – by a dastardly logic – follow that the world is permanently and imminently at high risk of punishing one in the way one suspects one deserves. It seems to fit that people may be laughing behind one’s back, that one may soon be sacked or disgraced, that one is an appropriate target for bullying and rejection and that persecution and worse may be heading towards us.


March 2019

  • For The School of Life, one of the most difficult features of anxiety is that it tends to be all-consuming. It sits in the middle of our minds and refuses to let anything else in or through. Though the anxiety causes us great pain, it denies any attempts to be questioned, analysed, probed or reconfigured. We are both terrified and unable to think beyond our terror.  Our thoughts become low, relentless, repetitive and anxiety dominates over and excludes any other form of mental activity.
  • The Guardian noted that, alongside products designed purely as medical aids, such as meditation apps, there is now a thriving offshoot of lifestyle goods marketed through their anxiety-relieving qualities. Product innovation oriented around anxiety (encompassing stress, mood and sleep) already spans nearly 30 different categories, including chocolate, yogurt, air fresheners, fabric conditioners and skincare. 
  • For Big Think, modern Western approaches to mental well-being largely focus on the symptoms and not the root causes, meaning that the mechanisation of mental health treatment often muddies the water even further, One of the solutions for anxiety, and other assorted mental ailments, set forth by Eastern belief systems such as Taoism is the idea of mindfulness or being within the present moment. It is from within this philosophy which emerges the art of meditation.  The concept of presence flows throughout the Eastern idea of being within the now.


February 2019

  • A Pew survey found that anxiety and depression were now the biggest concerns for US teens, with 70% of respondents considering both to be a “major problem.”


January 2019


December 2018


November 2018

  • Researchers created an artificial society to investigate religious conflict. The model found that two xenophobic groups that are in regular contact create “periods of mutually escalating anxiety”. In practice, such a policy would create moral concerns about separating and confining groups based on identity, as well as whether dividing groups based on religion should be a goal in any society, noted Quartz.


October 2018


September 2018


August 2018


June 2018



  • Henry David Thoreau tells us not to succumb to status anxiety:"Do not trouble yourself much to get new things, whether clothes or friends. Sell your clothes and keep your thoughts."