NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “A Stressed Nation: Americans Search for a Healthy Balance”, which highlights the negative impact that stress is having on the health of Americans. Download it HERE!
Many things get better with age: As cheese ages the flavor is better, and many adult beverages take time to acquire the perfect taste. It is even said that while parents love having their own kids, becoming a grandparent is like having a second dessert. But when it comes to stress among Americans, young adults are far more stressed than the older generations. Many young Americans are fresh into the workplace— starting out on their own and beginning to raise a family—all of which come with stress. Unlike younger adults, many older Americans have established a comfortable lifestyle for themselves. They are reaching retirement age and the stressors of everyday life are decreasing.
As reported by the American Psychological Association, half of all Millennials (ages 18-33), said that their stress keeps them awake at night. They also reported their average level of stress is a 5.4 on a 10-point scale, higher than the 4.9 average among other age groups. One of the biggest issues for this age group is the amount of debt they are racking up and the inability for many to find a good job. As reported by the Women’s Health Network, many Americans are coming out of college with fresh degrees, new ideas, and a motivation to work, but are not finding jobs in their career field. When you are doing something you don’t enjoy, your stress level increases due to the lack of fulfillment you find in your work.
Inexperience of Youth in Stress Management
Part of the problem lies in the fact that many members of the young generations do not know how to properly manage their stress. According to A Stressed Nation: Americans Search for a Healthy Balance, more 18-34 year olds than any other age group reported they feel somewhat or very stressed at the current moment—45 percent of the youngest group, 37 percent of 35-44 year olds and 38 percent of 45-54 year olds. Additionally, more than half of all age groups—led by 60 percent of the 18-34 year olds—said that stress has negatively impacted their overall health. Without a proper mechanism to release stress, Americans are facing significant health problems.
This is where healthcare providers can step in. Providers can initiate wellness visits, send out emails and information on how to successfully manage stress, and follow up with their patients to check their progress in following current treatment plans. Currently, according to A Stressed Nation, Americans of all generations reported they would be interested in and/or happy to receive communications from their doctor with tips on how to manage stress. Unfortunately, just over a third of Americans (42 percent of 35-44 year olds, 38 percent of 45-54 year olds, and 34 percent 18-34 year olds) have taken the step of discussing the negative impact of stress on their health with their doctor. This communication needs to occur more often, and both patients and providers should place a higher level of importance on ensuring that stress is managed successfully as part of a healthy lifestyle.
Can Exercise Help?
Unfortunately, the sedentary lifestyle of Americans isn’t aiding in combating stress. While healthcare providers recommend exercise as a stress management tool, many Americans do not have an active lifestyle. Exercise is a proven stress reliever—it decreases stress hormones such as cortisol, while increasing endorphins at the same time. Endorphins are the body’s “feel good” chemicals. When they are released, as they are during exercise, your mood is naturally boosted As reported in a the TeleVox Healthy World Report, The Obesity Epidemic: Unhealthy Habits Result in a Growing Problem for Americans, 35-44 year olds led all age groups in reporting that not getting enough exercise has negatively impacted their health. The same group led all ages in A Stressed Nation with 69 percent (compared with 54 percent of 18-34 year olds and 45-54 year olds) reporting their doctor suggested exercise as a way to control their stress level.
Balancing Our Busy Lifestyles
Americans across the generations are struggling to find the best way to balance the obligations of their busy lifestyles, which also leads to their stress levels. As reported by A Stressed Nation, close to two-thirds of all Americans reported being stressed during everyday life: 65 percent of 18-34 year olds, 64 percent of 35-44 year olds and 60 percent of 45-54 year olds. This isn’t really surprising, as the youngest age group is starting families and paying off student loans, while older generations don’t have many of these stressors. The numbers do shift slightly when looking at the work place:
- 35-44 year olds reported the most stress at the workplace, 70 percent, likely because this age group carries their stresses of work home, and vice versa.
- 67 percent of 18-34 year olds reported being stressed in the workplace. This age group is new to the workplace and trying to find their fit, as well as balance work with the rest of their life.
- The lowest percentage, 60 percent, of 45-54 year olds reported being stressed at work. This age group is settled into their jobs and beginning to reach the downhill slide to retirement, but more men in this age group are still concerned with money.
Finding a balance to keep stress under control and remain healthy should be a priority among Americans of every age. A great way to accomplish this is to talk with doctors and healthcare providers about the options available to combat both. Working with these professionals can help America to be less stressed for years to come.