While money and work have consistently topped the American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America™ survey over its more than 10-year history, last year a new stressor moved to the forefront: “the future of our nation.” This factor was cited by 63 percent of respondents as among their most common sources of stress, with money a close second, chosen by 62 percent as a common stressor, and work third, noted by 61 percent.1
Consistent with findings from previous years, women report experiencing higher levels of stress than men. However, it appears that the older we grow, we either feel less stress or get better at managing it. On a scale from one to 10, with 10 representing the highest level of stress, those age 72 or older reported an average stress level of 3.3, while baby boomers were at 3.9, Generation X at 5.3 and millennials at 5.7.2
High stress levels can take their toll, with reported effects including sleeplessness, anxiety, irritability or anger, and fatigue. More respondents reported experiencing at least one symptom of stress in the month before the August 2017 survey – 75 percent in 2017, compared with 71 percent in the 2016 survey.3
Most are taking on their stress levels head on. More than half (51 percent) of respondents reported that one way they are dealing with their stress is by volunteering or supporting causes important to them or which address the current state of the nation. However, they also report more conventional tactics – some healthy and some unhealthy – for dealing with stress, such as:4
- Exercising (53%)
- Listening to music (47%)
- Praying (29%)
- Smoking (14%)
- Meditating or practicing yoga (12%)
Nearly three-quarters of respondents (74 percent) said they had someone they could rely on for emotional support, and more than half (57 percent) say spending time with friends and family helps them manage stress. Forty-two percent say they believe working with a psychologist can help them manage stress.5
Most health insurance policies, as well as Medicare, are now required to provide coverage for mental health care services, which may include visits with a clinical psychologist.6 If you find your stress levels interfering with your daily life, talk to your doctor or other health care professional about whether such resources could help you.
1 American Psychological Association. Nov. 1, 2017. “Stress in America™: The State of Our Nation.” https://www.apa.org/news/press/releases/stress/2017/state-nation.pdf. Accessed Oct. 30, 2018.
6 MentalHealth.gov. March 19, 2018. “Health Insurance and Mental Health Services.” https://www.mentalhealth.gov/get-help/health-insurance. Accessed Oct. 30, 2018.