The American Psychological Association released a new report, called “Stress in America,” and according to many; it’s worrisome. Despite the fact that this year, stress levels were a little bit lower than they have been in recent years, they are still almost twice the level of “safe” stress levels.
Psychologist, Norman B. Anderson, PhD and the chief executive officer for APA, as well as the executive vice president, says that America is at a critical time where stress and health are concerned. He says, ”Year after year, nearly three-quarters of Americans say they experience stress at levels that exceed what they define as healthy, putting themselves at risk for developing chronic illnesses such as heart disease, diabetes and depression. Stress is hurting our physical and emotional health and contributing to some of the leading causes of death in this country.”
In the APA study, 1,100 adults from all areas of the country were surveyed, and representative samples of more than 1,100 people aged 8 to 17 were also surveyed. The results showed that kids feel their parents’ stress. Of the kids that said that their parents always seemed to be stressed, they are seven times more likely to feel stressed themselves. Approximately half of the tweens and teens surveyed said that they would participate in sedentary activities such as watching television, listening to music or playing video games when they felt extremely stressed.
The study also showed that women were eight percent more likely to feel high levels of stress than men, and almost 50 percent of women reported that they experienced increases in stress levels of the past five years, and over 30 percent of the women surveyed said that they eat to ease stress. Women also experience more indigestion, the need to cry and headaches when they feel stressed than men.
In the report, the APA also found that high levels of stress are linked to health issues such as high cholesterol, weight issues, chronic pain and high blood pressure. Those that have high levels of stress are also more likely to be diagnosed with anxiety disorders, chronic pain and depression. Despite the fact that the most common prescription for stress is to lose weight and exercise, most people that are stressed out don’t follow the advice they are given. The survey finds that a general lack of willpower is what prevents good health.
Experts are genuinely concerned about the stress levels of the nation, and they are stressing the importance of working to reduce stress levels.
Health care professionals recommend taking a few steps to help reduce stress levels:
- Encourage overweight children to spend more time exercising and eating healthy, and less time focusing on how much the child weighs.
- Set goals for the whole family. For instance, consuming an extra glass of water and eating healthy are terrific goals to improve health and reduce stress.
- Encourage family commitments such as getting more exercise by walking the dog, playing ball, etc.
- Spend time outside to help soothe the soul and reduce stress. Hobbies such as running, hiking or bike riding are excellent ways to help the whole family get exercise and get outside.
- Tackle stressors head on. Since finances are a critical issue for many, attacking them and taking care of the situation will help to ease some of the burden that so many people feel.