Super stressed at 34? Tell me about it

New research shows that women’s anxieties peak when they are in their mid-thirties. Perhaps they should avoid reading surveys


I’ve just returned from a much-needed holiday in Turkey. While I was there, I discovered that I had a superpower. I was out in a bar with the teenage daughter of a family friend when it became clear that I could make previously polite young people recoil with horror without even touching them. All I had to do was to tell them how old I am: 34.

Now that I’m back home, I have found out that my young would-be pals might be right in veering away. According to a new survey, women are at their most stressed at the age of 34. Perhaps the younglings could scent my anxiety.

So, just what is it that is making me and my identically aged sistren freak out? The researchers behind the study, conducted by the Inner Me beauty brand, asked 2,000 women to rate what made them stressed, with 62 per cent of respondents saying that not having enough money was the key cause of their woes. Fifty-seven per cent worried about their health, 48 per cent fretted about the well-being of their family and friends, and 42 per cent found that trying to balance family life was causing them kniptions.

I have to say that despite my natural scepticism about the findings of cosmetic-company funded research (I used to work in public relations, so I am well aware that if coverage is looking a bit thin on the ground, a survey can work wonders), I have to agree that my 35th year is topping my personal stress charts.

I’m extremely preoccupied with money and the well-being of my family. But I sense that this has more to do with the fact that my husband has been in hospital for six months after being hit by a car than the fact that it happened shortly before my 34th birthday.

I’m stressed about money because I’m now the sole earner, and I’m beside myself about my husband’s health because he has suffered a traumatic brain injury. I am desperately worried about my step-daughter and how she’s coping. But this accident could have happened at any time in the 10 years during which I’ve known the man to whom I’m now married, or at any point in the future. It could have happened when I was 25 (the age that the survey pinpoints as the time women are at their happiest), and who knows what might befall me at 54, if I make it that far.

And if I do, I’ll be on the brink of joining the sandwich generation, those aged between 55 and 64 who are the ones looking after young grandchildren and elderly parents, contributing to and dealing with schooling and caring, spending and saving and, above all I would have thought, stressing. But will I be less stressed than I am now?

Given that the phrase “sandwich generation” was coined after research conducted by a care-home charity called Anchor, one can’t help but think that the easiest way to be less stressed, hospitalised partner notwithstanding, would be to stop reading the results of surveys.

Yes, I am stressed. As I write, I am worrying in three dimensions over multiple timeframes. My car was totalled while I was on that holiday last week, while I was seeking a few days of respite from the never-ending stress-fest that is my life.

I won’t get to see my husband tonight because I have to work. My health is suffering (hello, throat infection). My future, and that of the man that I love, is looking unlike anything that I ever expected. But is it because I’m 34? Age is nothing but a number, and I’m not counting on it.

In Sickness and In Health: The invisible support network that keeps me going
In Sickness and in Health: After months of silence, Nick has started talking  

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Games Developer - HTML5

£28000 - £45000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With extensive experience and a...

Recruitment Genius: Personal Tax Senior

£26000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Recruitment Genius: Assistant Product Manager

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: Due to on-going expansion, this leading provid...

Recruitment Genius: Shift Leaders - Front of House Staff - Full Time and Part Time

£6 - £8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a family ...

Day In a Page

Read Next

There's a mainstream alternative to George Osborne's economics

John Healey
Stuart Baggs, who has died at the age of 27  

Stuart Baggs dead: It is not fair to brand him as a buffoon

Tom Peck
A Very British Coup, part two: New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel

A Very British Coup, part two

New novel in pipeline as Jeremy Corbyn's rise inspires sequel
6 best recipe files

6 best recipe files

Get organised like a Bake Off champion and put all your show-stopping recipes in one place
Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... for the fourth time

Mullah Omar, creator of the Taliban, is dead... again

I was once told that intelligence services declare their enemies dead to provoke them into popping up their heads and revealing their location, says Robert Fisk
Margaret Attwood on climate change: 'Time is running out for our fragile, Goldilocks planet'

Margaret Atwood on climate change

The author looks back on what she wrote about oil in 2009, and reflects on how the conversation has changed in a mere six years
New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered: What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week

New Dr Seuss manuscript discovered

What Pet Should I Get? goes on sale this week
Oculus Rift and the lonely cartoon hedgehog who could become the first ever virtual reality movie star

The cartoon hedgehog leading the way into a whole new reality

Virtual reality is the 'next chapter' of entertainment. Tim Walker gives it a try
Ants have unique ability to switch between individual and collective action, says study

Secrets of ants' teamwork revealed

The insects have an almost unique ability to switch between individual and collective action
Donovan interview: The singer is releasing a greatest hits album to mark his 50th year in folk

Donovan marks his 50th year in folk

The singer tells Nick Duerden about receiving death threats, why the world is 'mentally ill', and how he can write a song about anything, from ecology to crumpets
Let's Race simulator: Ultra-realistic technology recreates thrill of the Formula One circuit

Simulator recreates thrill of F1 circuit

Rory Buckeridge gets behind the wheel and explains how it works
Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation' over plans to overhaul reverse-chronological timeline

Twitter accused of 'Facebookisation'

Facebook exasperates its users by deciding which posts they can and can’t see. So why has Twitter announced plans to do the same?
Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag - but what else could the fashion house call it?

Jane Birkin asks Hermès to rename bag

The star was shocked by a Peta investigation into the exotic skins trade
10 best waterproof mascaras

Whatever the weather: 10 best waterproof mascaras

We found lash-enhancing beauties that won’t budge no matter what you throw at them
Diego Costa biography: Chelsea striker's route to the top - from those who shared his journey

Diego Costa: I go to war. You come with me...

Chelsea's rampaging striker had to fight his way from a poor city in Brazil to life at the top of the Premier League. A new book speaks to those who shared his journey
Ashes 2015: England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

England show the mettle to strike back hard in third Test

The biggest problem facing them in Birmingham was the recovery of the zeitgeist that drained so quickly under the weight of Australian runs at Lord's, says Kevin Garside
Women's Open 2015: Charley Hull - 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

Charley Hull: 'I know I'm a good golfer but I'm also just a person'

British teen keeps her feet on ground ahead of Women's Open