Coast-to-coast, stress is the modus vivendi for most Americans: 55 percent of people feel stressed in everyday life, according to a study from Televox. A Stressful Nation: Americans Search for a Healthy Balance paints a picture of a nation of physically inactive people working too hard and playing too little. And far more women feel the stress than men do.
64 percent of people say they're stressed during a typical workday. 52 percent of people see stress negatively impacting their lives. And nearly one-half of people believe they could better manage their stress. As a result, physicians say that Americans are experiencing negative side effects impacting their health. To combat stress, there's no pill doctors recommend, no outside stimuli per se. Nine in ten doctors prescribe exercise as the best route, daily, to relieve stress and release endorphins that make us feel more positive.
One blessing and curse when it comes to stress is children in the household: Nearly one-half of people with children are stressed compared with one-quarter of non-parents. 59 percent of parents told Televox that stress negatively impacts their overall health.
It's in younger people where stress is growing the fastest. More 18- to 34-year-olds are feeling somewhat or very stressed – 45 percent – versus 37 percent of people 35 to 44 and 38 percent of people 45 to 54.
The stress-difference between men and women is striking: 49 percent of men say that they are stressed in everyday life; 60 percent of women do.
61 percent of people said they'd welcome receiving communications from their doctors to help manage stress. Televox's solution to the national stress problem focuses on physicians communicating with and supporting patients in helping manage stress through motivating exercise, healthy lifestyles and positive attitudes via technology-based tactics such as text messaging, emails and phone calls. This is Televox's core business.
Televox interviewed 11,130 American adults 18 and over and 463 health providers for this study.
Health Populi's Hot Points: For women it's about "trying to balance a career with duties on the home front... while men are taking on more responsibility in the home, the stress level associated with this doesn't seem to be quite the same."
No doubt, people could benefit from daily support and tips from trusted sources, like health providers, to help manage stress. But it will be more than exercise that gets people managing stress better. Stressors take many forms, including but not limited to money and personal financial strain, workplace/job stress, caregiving responsibilities (which can feel quite overwhelming), family pressures (spousal and related to children, the latter of which Televox called out), and the chaos of lives in 2013 seen in daily broadcast news, among them.
These stressors lead to health consequences from lack of sleep to anxiety, over-eating, under-exercising, and consequent noncommunicable diseases such as cardiovascular conditions, diabetes, and full-blown depression, among others.
I wrote about the pain of women in a recent Huffington Post column, and the Sunday New York Times Book Review of November 17, 2013, highlighted two important books covering the issue of women's mental health.
It will take a village, including but not limited to our doctors: Team Anti-Stress must include our clergy, teachers, bankers, company management and policymakers, to help de-stress the masses. And in the inner circle, it's our family, friends and peers who know what we're going through that can help lift us up. Connect with these people in your home, your neighborhood, on Facebook and Twitter, in your workplace, in group visits through your health provider. Take advantage of employee benefits that your workplace offers you in the forms of Employee Assistance Programs, wellness programs, and behavioral and health coaching. And look for the growing availability of cognitive behavioral therapy programs offered online via employers, health centers, and government agencies like the VA.
A walk around the block couldn't hurt, either.
This post was originally published on Jane's blog, Health Populi, on November 22, 2013.