Unless you happen to be a deadly coronavirus, chances are you’ve had a rough couple of years.
Nearly half of US adults (41%) reported that their lives have become more stressful in the past two years, the American Psychological Association found in their annual Stress in America survey.
It comes as no shock that a global pandemic, toppling economy, supply chain shortages and the prospect of World War III might be hard on one’s mental health.
The vast majority of adults (87%) agreed it feels like there has been a “constant stream of crises” during the past two years, and more than seven in 10 (73%) said they felt “overwhelmed” by it.
The top sources of stress in the early weeks of 2022 were the rise in prices of everyday items due to inflation (e.g., gas prices, energy bills, grocery costs, etc.) (87%), followed by supply chain issues (81%) global uncertainty (81%), potential retaliation from Russia (e.g. cyberattacks, nuclear threats) (80%) and the Russian invasion of Ukraine (80%).
Americans have been watching the war in Ukraine from the sidelines of social media, survey authors noted. The gruesome photos, disturbing videos and heartbreaking stories coming out of the country have left many in the US frightened and confused.
Moreover, the war has correlated with a rising cost of goods here at home in everything from groceries to gas, plus skyrocketing rents and housing costs across the country. Experts have warned that prices are expected to continue to rise, bracing Americans for a looming recession.
The number of adults who noted the economy as a significant source of stress has significantly risen in recent months, especially among Americans aged 18-25, and half of all US adults (50%) indicated housing costs as a major stressor.
Overall, younger Americans were most likely to point to money as a major cause of stress (82%). The percentage of people worried about money declines as the age group climbs, with Gen Z feeling the brunt of the financial crisis. Thanks to the long life ahead of them, young adults experienced the highest debt growth of any generation between 2019 and 2020 due to joblessness and student loans, with the average balance increasing 67.2% from $9,593, CNBC reported.
While financial stress impacts more than half of adults across the country, that number spikes for minority groups, with Latino (75%) and black adults (67%) feeling more of the pressure.
The obvious cause of stress throughout the past two years has been the COVID-19 pandemic. Many restrictions and much of the panic has subsided as the threat of death has lowered, but close to three in five people (58%) still agreed the pandemic overall continues to be a daily stressor.
Americans are lagging physically, too. As people took to social isolation to avoid the spread of the disease, they turned to unhealthy coping mechanisms. Just over half of adults (51%) agreed their lifestyles became less healthy or stayed just as healthy during the pandemic and two in five (42%) admitted that they have relied on unhealthy habits to manage the stress of the last two years.
As a result, a majority (58%) shared that they have recorded undesired weight changes, with Americans gaining or losing an average of 26-27 pounds.
Virtual happy hours and wine-downs became a popular coping strategy for one in five Americans (23%) who confessed that they have been drinking more alcohol within the past two years to deal with stress.
Stress in the US has continued to soar throughout the past two years, but at least you’re not alone.
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