January 1st, 2018

Future of Nation is top stressor

The future of the country is the largest source of stress according to a report from the American Psychological Association.

The APA released the results of its annual “Stress in America,” survey in November, with the country’s future topping the results at 63 percent, followed close behind by money at 62 percent and work at 61 percent.

The 2017 “Stress in America” survey was conducted online by Harris Poll between Aug. 2 and Aug 31, 2017, among 3,440 adults age 18+ in the United States.
Broken down, 1,376 men, 2,047 women, 1,088 white, 810 Hispanic, 808 Black, 506 Asian and 206 Native Americans participated in the poll.

Approximately six out of 10 adults said that the current political climate and social divisiveness cause them stress.

Seventy-three percent Democrats reported anxiety about the nation’s future and 56 percent Republicans and 59 percent Independents also cited that major stressor.

Keeping up with the news about the country was also identified as a source of anxiety – with 95 percent of the respondents noting that they watch the news regularly and a majority of those people (56 percent) noting that it upsets them.

In addition, about three quarters of the people believe that the media blows the news out of proportion.

In a press release, APA’s CEO Arthur C. Evans, Jr., acknowledged that the association saw a rise in people reporting stress caused by national issues in the months leading up to the 2016 presidential election. And, those feelings have continued.

The availability of 24-hour news bombardment on TV, social media and alerts on mobile phones were identified as contributors to stress caused by news as was the fighting and conflict inherent in the content.

Evans suggested that people limit the flow of information they are receiving if it bothers them. “It’s time to make it a priority to be thoughtful about how often and what type of media we consume,” he said.

Another result, that six in 10 adults felt that we are at the lowest point in the country’s history that they can remember, surprised Evans.

“What was really surprising was how consistent that feeling was across all age groups,” stated Evans. Respondents included individuals who lived through World War II, Vietnam, the Cuban Missile Crisis and the Sept. 11 attacks.

The state of the country has prompted 59 percent of people to take action – such as 28 percent signing a petition and 15 percent boycotting a company because of its social or political views.

About half of the people said they are volunteering or supporting causes as a result of America’s current climate.

Health care and the economy (43 percent, 35 percent) are the major causes of stress about the nation. Others in descending order include trust in government, hate crimes, crime, wars/conflicts with other countries, terrorist attack in the U.S., high taxes, social security and government controversies and scandals.

Using a scale where one is “little or no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress,” on average, black and Hispanic men reported higher stress levels than white men (4.8 versus 4.1).

Women also reported higher stress levels than men (5.1 vs. 4.4).

As in the past, millennials have the highest stress levels at 5.7 compared to older adults (age 72+) at 3.3 and Boomers and Generation Xers at 3.9.

Finally, nearly three in four Americans feel they have the emotional support they need to help them cope with stress. More than half (54 percent), however, said they could have used more support.

Forty-two percent of the respondents said that they believe psychologists can help manage stress a great deal or a lot. That result increased from 38 percent who felt that way in 2016.

By Susan Gonsalves

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