New Poll Says Americans are More Stressed Than Ever

What’s really causing rising stress levels across the U.S.

American’s stress levels are the highest they’ve been in 10 years, according to a poll released Wednesday by the American Psychological Association.

Image courtesy of Unsplash

Our hyper-divided political atmosphere is at least partly to blame. Fifty-seven percent of respondents said the current political climate is a “very or somewhat significant” source of stress. The effect reached across party lines: A majority of both Republicans (59 percent) and Democrats (76 percent) reported that the future of our nation was a significant source of worry.

The survey also highlights how fast our national stress levels are rising. A poll taken in August 2016 ranked our stress levels at a 4.8 (on a 1-to-10 scale where 1 means little to no stress, and 10 means a whole lot of stress) while a January 2017 poll put this number at a 5.1 on the same scale. That may seem like a small jump but it’s the first “significant increase” in the decade since the APA began the Stress in America™ polling.

In addition to politics, more people reported acts of terrorism, police violence towards minorities and personal safety as sources of stress. It’s true that no one totally stress-free, but it disproportionately impacts groups who have been more vocally discriminated against in recent months, such as Muslim Americans, immigrants and victims of sexual trauma, as the Washington Post reported.

One way to manage your politically-related stress levels is to be smart about media consumption. The Washington Post cites the example of former national security adviser Michael Flynn’s resignation late Monday night, with Valie Wright, a licensed psychologist and member of APA’s Stress in America team, noting that “nothing would have changed if they’d waited until morning to hear that news.” Such updates only get us “riled up again when you should be prioritizing going to sleep, winding down, and prepared for the next day,” Wright told the Washington Post.

One suggestion? Limit your exposure to screen time at night — or even better, keep your phone out of the bedroom.

Read more about the APA’s findings here.