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Wednesday, January 18, 2012

APA report confirms that we are getting more stressed.

Stress causes weight gain.  Look out!

Stressful news comes to us in a new report released by the American Psychological Association (APA). It confirms the near epidemic numbers of stressed-out Americans. According to the report, 1 in 5 Americans report chronic “extreme” stress and only 29% of people feel they are successfully managing or reducing their stress level. Plus, 44% of respondents say they are more stressed now than they were five years ago.

In the face of the current economic and jobs situation, it really is no surprise that people are feeling the pressure. The Holmes and Rahe Stress Scale, which assigns a score to stressful events, ranks dismissal from work just below marriage in terms of its stress score. Nine of the 43 events on the stress scale have to do with changes in employment, difficulty at work, and financial stress. The stress related to unemployment or a change in financial status is significant. A recent Gallup Poll found that the longer people are unemployed, the more jobs they applied for, and the more interviews they went on all contribute to a decreased sense of well-being. People who fall into this group report that they are not “thriving” and are more likely to experience worry, stress, sadness, anger, and are more likely to be diagnosed with depression.

We often talk about stress but brush over it, like it’s simply an emotional response. But, there are some serious physical consequences that people face when they experience chronic stress. One study found that chronic stress could be lethal. Researchers followed 1,000 men over 18 years and found people who experienced more than just one or two stressful events each year have a 50% higher mortality rate.

Here’s a dose of reality: no one can live a completely stress-free life and some of the stressors you will likely encounter are out of your control, like major company mergers leading to large lay-offs or bumper-to-bumper traffic that made you late to work this morning. But, you can control your reaction to stress and you can do certain things to minimize the toll chronic stress takes on your well-being.