A recent Gallup survey found that Americans are among the most stressed people in the world. and that their experience of stress, anger and worry is at a ten-year high.
An annual study conducted since 2005, the Global Emotions Report is a snapshot of the current emotional state of 150,000 adults in 143 countries. It asked respondents about their mental experiences — positive and negative — the day prior to being interviewed. About 55 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed much of the day. That compared to the global average of 35 percent, putting the United States tied with Greece, which has led on this measure every year since 2012. A sizable percentage of Americans also reported “a lot” of anger and worry: 22 and 39 percent respectively.
According to the survey, more younger Americans feel stressed than older ones, with 64 percent for the youngest adults (15-29) and 65 percent for the middle-aged (30-49), compared to 44 percent for the older adults (50+). The Gallup report shows a similar spread of results for worry and anger experienced by the young and the old. One can speculate that the difference is due to younger adults facing greater economic challenges at this time.
How about you? Are you feeling greater stress in your life? You’re not alone if you do. Stress levels in the United States have significantly increased over the past ten years, rising from 48 percent in 2008 to 55 percent in 2018. Whether it’s concerns about money, health, politics, the environmental or just the faster pace of living, major stress is something we all have to deal with at some point.
Here are some tips for minimizing stress:
- Increase your physical activity. Walking, running, swimming — any type of exercise can relieve stress by producing neural chemicals, like endorphins, that increase your sense of well-being.
- Eat a healthy diet. Go for meals rich in fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Cut down on foods containing refined sugars.
- Avoid alcohol and caffeinated drinks. Caffeine and alcohol (in smaller amounts) act as a stimulant. (In larger amounts alcohol is a depressant.)
- Get enough sleep. A sleep deficit is a source of considerable stress.
- Reach out to friends and family. Social contacts can be a welcome respite to stressful conditions in your life.
- Try relaxation techniques. Yoga, meditation, self-hypnosis and other practices can help lower the stress level.
- Prioritize your time and learn to say no. Assert yourself and be realistic about how much you can do.
- Keep a stress journal. Write down your thoughts and feelings, especially about those situations that bring on stress. This is a great way to recognize stressful triggers and to develop coping skills.
- Get help. If you can’t deal with stress on your own, seek the assistance of a mental health professional.