Stress, Age and Money: Younger Americans Most Stressed About Finances

Summer 2008 024

The American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey was released today.

The good news: Overall, Americans report experiencing less stress

The bad news: Younger Americans and parents tend to report more stress – particularly about money – than other Americans

Now, this is no great surprise.  Young adulthood is a super-expensive time in life.  First cars, first homes, student loans, babies: all these things combined with relatively low, early-career salaries combine to make money tight in a lot of young households.  What is surprising is that the APA survey found that younger, stressed out Americans tend to manage their stress in unhealthy ways when compared to other groups.  This might mean drinking too much alcohol or engaging in sedentary activities for too much time (surfing the internet or watching TV).

The real bummer is that we know chronic, high levels of stress are no good for our health in the long term.  In fact, high levels of stress can lead to depression, cardiovascular disease, and all sorts of other things.

Check out the complete results to learn more about APA’s Stress in America survey.


Helping Your Teen Manage Stress

Stress? Who me?

Stress? Who me?

The American Psychological Association’s annual Stress in America survey was released yesterday.  The results indicate that Americans are pretty stressed overall.  We worry about work and money in particular, and struggle to manage it with healthy strategies.  Instead we reach for cookies, cigarettes, video games and participate in other sedentary activities – even though many of us know more active, healthy strategies are better for us and often more effective.

That’s pretty bad news.

But it gets worse.

The survey also found that American teenagers are experiencing stress at levels they feel is unhealthy.  In fact, their stress levels rival those of adults.  Yesterday I wrote a post about why we need to worry about it.

Today I’m focusing on what we can do to help teens manage their stress more effectively. Here it is:

Let them watch us manage stress in healthy, effective ways ourselves.

  • That means, instead of guzzling beer and M and M’s in front of the TV after a tough day, perhaps we should take a walk or dance around the kitchen
  • That means, instead of logging into Facebook and ranting about our boss, perhaps we should play a game with our teen or get a manicure
  • That means, instead of zoning out and playing Minecraft, perhaps we should read a book or phone a friend

Kids learn from watching us. It’s a big responsibility for parents to be constant role models.  But it’s also a big relief because it means we can have a positive, lasting impact on our kids’ health.

For more information about talking to teens about stress check out the American Psychological Association’s tips here.

For more information about whether your child could benefit from seeing a psychologist, check out my article here.



Americans Are Stressed…So What?


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?


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.


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.



How Do I Know If I Am Stressed?

The American Psychological Association released their annual Stress in America survey today.  Results suggest that we Americans are way too stressed out and that stress is having serious negative consequences.  Chronic, long term stress can affect every system of our bodies: digestive, cardiac, musculoskeletal, and of course brain health can be seriously jeopardized when we are subjected to stress over the long term.  To read more about APA’s Stress in America survey, including how your city rates in terms of stress, click here.

We all know stress is bad, but how do you know if your stress level is too high?  What are the signs and symptoms of stress?  Well, we all experience it differently, and some of the signs of excessive stress may surprise you.  Here are a few to watch out for:

Difficulty concentrating (i.e., trouble focusing on your favorite TV show or book due to worries and stressful thoughts)

Excessive worry (i.e., going overboard in the amount of time you spend worrying about things, assuming the worst about things)

Overeating/undereating (i.e., eating when you’re not hungry, or losing interest in food)

Trouble with sleep (i.e., sleeping too much OR too little)

Trouble managing anger (i.e., losing your cool more quickly than normal)

Irritability (i.e., snapping at your kids or partner more than usual)

Inability to enjoy things you used to (i.e., too stressed out to enjoy weekly manicure)

Isolation (i.e., stop returning friends’ phone calls because you’re “too stressed” or “too busy” to talk)

Other signs of stress can include: difficulty doing just one thing at a time, trouble staying “in the moment,” and an increase of physical ailments (headaches, stomachaches, etc).