Stress is hard to quantify and everyone experiences stress differently. Certainly there is enough in the news that can cause stress. With wars going on in the Middle East, flooding in parts of Asia and even California, regular shootings and violence in major cities and daily reports of murders and suicides, anyone would feel a bit stressed out.
A recent study in the American Psychological Association indicates that the stress level in Americans increased between August 2016 to January 2017. And this was the first such increase in stress in nearly a decade.
In this ‘Coping with Change’ survey, the researchers found that nearly 60-70% of Americans were worried about the country’s future, with nearly 57 percent stating that the current political climate was a major stress producer. The survey conducted by Harris Poll in Jan of 2017 included 1,019 American ages 18 and over. This ‘Stress in America’ report is the first part of this year annual report with the second part slated to be released in February of 2017.
The overall stress levels in the surveyed Americans went from 4.8 to 5.1 on a 10 point scale from August 2016 to January 2017. The survey included both republicans and democrats, with the former reporting stress levels of 59% and the latter reporting 76%, respectively. Nearly 70% of African Americans in the survey stated that the outcome of the election was also a significant source of stress compared to just 42% for Caucasians (non-Hispanic whites).
Other factors that played a role in the stress included the participant’s home environment and education level. 53% of participants with high school education said the election was quite stressful whereas only 38% of those with lesser education said their stress was minimal. Overall, individuals living in urban areas were more stressed than those living in rural areas.
Besides politics, other sources of stress were police violence towards minorities, terrorism and personal safety.
The survey did note that the stress level is already affecting the health of Americans with many reporting both physical and emotional problems. To ‘de-stress’ the researchers suggested exercise, eating healthy, spending time with families and getting adequate sleep. For those severely affected by stress, where their quality of life was impaired, a visit to a healthcare professional is highly recommended.