27% of Americans say they are so stressed they can’t function.
A poll from the American Psychological Association (APA) found that more than a quarter of Americans are facing significant stressors due to external stressors that are beyond their personal control.
“The poll results showing that 27% of Americans are so stressed that they can’t function are truly alarming. Sadly, the poll indicates that those in younger age groups are suffering to an extreme degree; 46% of those under 35 and 42% of those from 35 - 44 feel so stressed that they can’t function. These statistics are highly concerning as they reveal that nearly half of young adults experience such extreme stress that struggle to function on daily basis. Given that chronic stress negatively impacts both psychological and physical health, these poll results are a call to action,” Dr. Carla Marie Manly, a Clinical Psychologist based in California, told Theravive.
“It’s certainly not normal to be so stressed that daily function is negatively impacted. Of course, there are times when difficult challenges make us feel stressed, but these times are, ideally, far and few between. Just as with other animals, humans function at their best when stress is occasional and brief—such as experiencing a threat in the natural world (e.g., a bear in the woods), taking action to flee, and then returning to a calm state. However, in today’s stress-filled world, we often perceive threats at every turn; from fears related to politics and the environment to personal safety and the economy, many people feel powerless to control the constant onslaught of threats in today’s world.”
The APA poll found that external stressors beyond the personal control of the individual were among the most commonly cited sources of stress.
83% of those polled said inflation was a source of stress, whilst 75% cited violence and crime as a source of stress. 66% said the political climate was causing them a significant amount of stress and 62% reported the current racial climate was a source of stress.
The poll also found Americans were stressed about the state of the nation. 64% of those polled reported that they felt their rights were under attack, and 70% felt that the government didn’t care about them. 45% said they didn’t feel they were protected by US law, and 38% said that the state of the US made them think about moving to a different country.
Among the respondents of the poll, 68% believe this is the lowest point in the history of the US that they could remember. 76% said the future of the US was a significant source of stress for them.
Experts say taking steps towards personal empowerment can help combat stress towards factors that can seem out of our individual control.
“Although it’s important not to ignore the news, it’s essential to modify news intake to avoid doomscrolling or taking in negative news before bedtime or when you’re already stressed,” Manly, who is also author of the book Joy From Fear, said.
“Given that issues such as inflation, violence, politics, and racism are particularly stressful and anxiety-inducing… it’s important to take your power back in small ways—such as community volunteer efforts to improve racism and violence. When we take small steps to create positive change, the resulting sense of self-efficacy goes a long way toward decreasing stress and increasing personal empowerment.”
She says there are numerous steps an individual can take to manage their level of stress. Setting moderate and achievable goals, learning to say no to unreasonable or overly demanding requests and spending time among people who are supportive are all options to prevent or decrease stress.
She also says it is crucial to establish a health relationship with technology and social media.
“When a sense of stress or overwhelm begins to set in, simply stop to give yourself space from social media or tech use. I’d had many clients effectively reduce their stress by opting out of certain social media forums or simply reducing their daily use,” she said.
“Stress can get the better of us when life feels overwhelming. When stress starts mounting, it’s important to reach out for mental health support. From individual therapy and group support to self-help books, there are many ways to access effective stress-management skills. Stress management is a lifelong process that involves learning how to be effectively responsive to—rather than reactive to—life’s challenges.“
Elizabeth Pratt is a medical journalist and producer. Her work has appeared on Healthline, The Huffington Post, Fox News, The Australian Broadcasting Corporation, The Sydney Morning Herald, News.com.au, Escape, The Cusp and Skyscanner. You can read more of her articles here. Or learn more about Elizabeth and contact her via her LinkedIn and Twitter profiles.