A recent Stress in America survey carried out in September found that 80% of Americans felt that the economy was a significant source of stress in their lives. This figure is up from 66% back in April 2008.
The financial downturn is taking its toll on all of us… but women most especially. Not surprising with the way things have been going of late… Wall Street is volatile… layoffs are expected… prices on food are going up… the values of our homes and our 401K’s are sinking like a stone.
It’s no wonder people are stressed – we all have good reason.
“People’s emotional and physical health is more vulnerable, given the high levels of stress in our country right now,” says psychologist Katherine Nordal, PhD, the American Psychological Association’s executive director for professional practice.
The data in the survey was collected online by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between June and August 2008. Participants had to live in the U.S. and be at least 18 years old. According to the survey, the top stressors for Americans who participated include…
- Money – 81%
- The economy – 80%
- Work – 67%
- Health problems affecting the family – 67%
All this takes its toll… whether you acknowledge it or not.
In 2008, more people are dealing with stress related physical and emotional symptoms than in 2007. Nearly half of all adults said their stress has gone up in the past year. Stress related fatigue, being irritable or angry and lying awake at night all rose from 2007 levels.
Other symptoms listed included lack of interest or motivation, feeling depressed and sad, having headaches and muscle tension.
It’s no secret that stress can be bad for us… that it contributes to health problems, poor relationships and lost productivity, especially if you aren’t able to manage it well. But with all that’s happening around us, plus what we need to deal with day-to-day, it’s no wonder rates of significant stress are rising.
Most of the survey participants thought they were managing their stress well. Less than half used exercise, more often people turned to listening to music (52%) as a form of stress relief. Unhealthy habits were represented in the coping strategies as well, with 48% of respondents admitting to overeating, 18% to drinking alcohol and 16% to smoking cigarettes.
What you must understand is that if you ignore stress, it won’t go away. In fact, the destructive consequences of prolonged stress on the body and mind are worse if you don’t do something about it.
Finding yourself dealing with irritability, trouble sleeping, changes in appetite, headaches, stomach aches, intestinal problems, nervousness, excessive worry and feeling sad are signs that stress has the upper hand. You need help to get it back under control.
Of course you can help yourself by paying attention to the news, but not getting too wrapped up in the doom and gloom. Bad news gets attention (i.e. ratings) which is why people are often advised not to watch a newscast just before bedtime.
You might also want to incorporate relaxation techniques, daily meditation or other alternative therapies for managing stress into your daily routine.
The current economic climate does bring an opportunity… the chance to take stock of your particular financial situation and what causes you stress.
Look for ways to cut expenses… put things on paper so you see exactly where you stand. You might consider this as an opportunity to get more training to improve your job prospects… an unexpected chance to make long term plans that in the end will have you better off.
Remember the Wayne Dyer quote, “Change the way you look at things and the things you look at change.”
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Survey Finds The Economy Is A Significant Source Of Stress continued…You’ll also want to think about how you deal with stress over money. Sometimes it’s easy to turn to unhealthy, but enjoyable distractions like smoking, drinking, gambling or emotional eating, to cope. Other times prolonged, serious tension like this will cause arguments between partners or family members.
Money is a strange thing… how you handle it comes from a lot of places, your own upbringing included. Ask for help if you need it. There are credit counseling services and financial planners who can work with you to show you how to gain control over your financial situation.
And if you find yourself feeing overwhelmed or hopeless, don’t be shy about getting yourself some professional help. Perhaps there are emotions behind the trouble you have handling stress… now’s your chance to confront these and get over them. It’s the only way you’ll feel better… and you’ll be modeling good, sound, responsible behaviors for your children, or others in your life, as well.