As the US faces a severe political race season, political turmoil and viciousness, a temperamental economy, and a soaring death toll due to COVID-19, 84 percent of US grown-ups said the nation has genuine social issues that should be tended to, according to an American poll.
As indicated by the new survey, more than 80 percent of US adults report emotions associated with prolonged stress.
At the same time, 9 in 10 adults said they hope that the country moves toward unity, according to Stress in AmericaTM: January 2021 Stress Snapshot, conducted by The Harris Poll on behalf of the American Psychological Association.
The survey found that the average reported stress level during the prior month was 5.6, (on a scale from 1 to 10 where 1 means “little to no stress” and 10 means “a great deal of stress”). This is higher than stress levels reported in 2020 Stress in AmericaTM surveys since April.
It is therefore no surprise that 84 percent of adults reported feeling at least one emotion associated with prolonged stress in the prior two weeks. The most common were feelings of anxiety (47 percent), sadness (44 percent), and anger (39 percent). Additionally, 2 in 3 adults (67 percent) said the number of issues America is facing is overwhelming to them.
“Nearly a year into the pandemic, prolonged stress persists at elevated levels for many Americans. As we work to address stressors as a nation, from unemployment to education, we can’t ignore the mental health consequences of this global shared experience,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., APA’s chief executive officer.
“Without addressing stress as part of a national recovery plan, we will be dealing with the mental health fallout from this pandemic for years to come,” added Evans Jr.
The majority of adults reported the future of our nation (81 percent), the coronavirus pandemic (80 percent), and political unrest around the country (74 percent) as significant sources of stress in their lives.
Despite more than three weeks have passed since the breach of the U.S. Capitol on January 6, 66 percent of adults said this event was a significant source of stress. The events on January 6 also impacted adults disproportionately: Almost three-quarters of Black adults (74 percent) said that the Capitol breach was a significant source of stress, compared with 65 percent of white adults and 60 percent of Hispanic adults.
Regardless of political affiliation, the majority of Americans reported emotions associated with stress (85 percent of Democrats, 83 percent of Republicans, and 83 percent of independents). They also shared similar concerns about the country: When looking at the future of our nation, slightly more than 8 in 10 Democrats (82 percent), Republicans (82 percent), and independents (81 percent) said it was a significant source of stress.
APA offered the following evidence-based advice to help people manage their stress:
1. Give yourself permission to take a break from the news, social media, or even certain friends. Constantly exposing ourselves to negative information, images and rhetoric maintain our stress at unhealthy levels.
2. Practice the rule of “three good things” and ask friends and family to do the same. The rule states that at the end of each day, reflect on three good things that happened — large or small. This helps decrease anxiety, counter depression and build emotional resiliency.
3. Practice self-care in 15- or 30-minute increments throughout the day. This can include taking a short walk, calling a friend, or watching a funny show. Parents should encourage or help their children to do the same.
4. Stay connected with friends and family. This helps build emotional resiliency so you can support one another.
5. Keep things in perspective. Try to reframe your thinking to reduce negative interpretations of day-to-day experiences and events.