Stress in America Survey: Is This the Low Point?

The American Psychological Association’s latest survey on stress in the United States finds that a lot of people think we’ve hit a nadir as a country.

What’s the state of stress in America? According to a survey by the American Psychological Association, it’s very much not good.

The latest version of Stress in America, a yearly analysis of how Americans are dealing with stress, finds that the current state of the country, as well as its future, is keeping a huge chunk of the public up at night.

Nearly two-thirds of Americans who responded to the survey [PDF] say the country’s future represents a very or somewhat significant source of stress, outpacing traditional stress sources such as money and work. Another 57 percent say the current political climate is also a major stressor.

Meanwhile, 59 percent say that recent social divisions have also been stress drivers. And the stress crosses party lines, with 73 percent of Democrats, 56 percent of Republicans, and 59 percent of independents saying that the future of the U.S. is a major source of tension.

APA CEO Arthur C. Evans Jr. noted that stress levels appear to be at a nadir—something highlighted by the fact that 59 percent of Americans believe this may be the lowest point in U.S. history.

“We’re seeing significant stress transcending party lines,” Evans said in a news release. “The uncertainty and unpredictability tied to the future of our nation is affecting the health and well-being of many Americans in a way that feels unique to this period in recent history.”

Digging deeper into causes, the largest singular issue reported by respondents was healthcare, which 43 percent of respondents said was a pressing issue, followed by the economy at 35 percent, and trust in government at 32 percent.

By generation, people who identified as gen X-ers were most likely to say that this was the lowest point in the country’s history, at 61 percent, with millennials right behind at 59 percent. More than half of respondents in every age group surveyed said it was the lowest point, however.

How Can We Deal?

People are working on dealing with the stress created, trying things like finding sources for emotional support (74 percent), getting involved in volunteer causes (51 percent), and using music (47 percent) and exercise (46 percent) to help take their minds off the issue.

While friends and family are also seen as a potential solution for stress (57 percent), it isn’t a fail-safe, as social media has helped helped amplify arguments between family members caused by another stressor: the media, which 56 percent of respondents said was a source of stress.

“With 24-hour news networks and conversations with friends, family, and other connections on social media, it’s hard to avoid the constant stream of stress around issues of national concern,” Evans said in a news release. “These can range from mild, thought-provoking discussions to outright, intense bickering, and over the long term, conflict like this may have an impact on health.”

Evans recommends a thoughtful approach to tackling media-induced stress.

“Understanding that we all still need to be informed about the news, it’s time to make it a priority to be thoughtful about how often and what type of media we consume,” he adds.

(Peopleimages/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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