Americans Are Stressed…So What?

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The American Psychological Association released their annual Stress in America report today.  Not surprisingly, it found that Americans are pretty stressed. In their survey, they found that the average adult rated their stress a 5.1 on a scale of 1 to 10.  More noteworthy is that 42% of adults reported their stress has increased in the last 5 years, and 62% say they have tried to decreased their stress during that same time frame.

But the big finding from this year’s survey was stress in teens.  It appears to be on the rise, and currently rivals that of adults.

So why should we care?

We’re all stressed, right?

Life is tough, complicated – perhaps we all just need to buck up?

Hmmmm…

It’s something to think about.  But what concerns me is not so much the stress itself, but the effects of stress over the long term.  For example, did you know that prolonged stress can negatively affect every system of the body?  That’s right.  Stress not only affects our mood, our eating and our sleep patterns, but it can also affect our cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems as well.  Reproduction, metabolism and even our cognitive abilities can also be negatively impacted by high levels of stress.

Yikes.

And when we start thinking about stress in kids and teens, the picture becomes even more worrisome.  If kids are reporting high levels of stress (5.8 in this survey) at a time when life is supposed to be relatively stress-free, what does that mean for the future?  Will their stress levels keep going up and up as life gets more complex (mortgages, jobs, marriages, their own kids)? How will their bodies respond to these high levels of chronic stress? What will that mean for the health care system?

It’s a lot to think about. Check back tomorrow for some coping strategies. In the meantime, check out the full Stress in America survey here.

 

 

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