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Adults now have the highest stress levels since the start of the pandemic, survey finds

Experts point to political instability and the state of the economy as some of the main stressors

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Photo (c) Kiyoshi Hijiki - Getty Images
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have been dealing with elevated stress levels. Some studies have found that stress over finances and grocery store supplies have become more common, and others have highlighted the importance of consumers adopting healthy coping skills.

Now, a new survey conducted by researchers from the American Psychological Association has found that many adults across the country are currently dealing with the highest stress levels since the start of the pandemic. 

“Nearly a year into the pandemic, prolonged stress persists at elevated levels for many Americans,” said researcher Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. “As we work to address stressors as a nation, from unemployment to education, we can’t ignore the mental health consequences of this global shared experience. Without addressing stress as part of a national recovery plan, we will be dealing with the mental health fallout from this pandemic for years to come.” 

What’s contributing to heightened stress?

The researchers surveyed over 2,000 Americans aged 18 and older to determine what is stressing people out on a daily basis and how it is contributing to their overall wellness.

The ongoing severity of the pandemic continues to be a major source of stress for many consumers. Eighty percent of survey respondents cited the pandemic as a current catalyst for stress. 

However, it was the political state of the country that was the biggest source of stress for the study participants. More than 80 percent of participants were concerned about the future of the country, and nearly three-quarters of participants were stressed about general political instability. This was an issue across the board, regardless of political affiliation; more than 80 percent of Democrats, Republicans, and Independents reported feeling worried about what’s to come politically. 

Additionally, the participants reported that unity is more important to them than any other political agenda. Ninety percent of all survey respondents said they hope the future is built on a foundation of integrity and common ground. 

Ways to combat stress

The researchers are worried about consumers’ mental health moving forward because the large majority of participants reported persistent feelings associated with anxiety, anger, and sadness. While everyone handles stress in their own way, recent studies have found that there are some tried and true methods that can be beneficial to consumers during this time. 

Spending time outdoors when possible can help consumers clear their minds, and pets have also been found to be mood boosters. Rather than spending a ton of time on social media or checking the news, the researchers recommend engaging in mindfulness activities, like breathing exercises or yoga

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