We’re All Totally Stressed

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Having recently found myself hospitalized for a stress-related illness, I’ve been thinking a lot about stress: what it is, what causes it, and how to get rid of it.

It’s stressing me out.

Misery loves company, so I was inappropriately delighted to learn practically everyone in America is totally, neurotically stressed.

That’s according to the Mental Health America Survey, released Nov. 16 by Mental Health America (formerly known as the National Mental Health Association, says the press release). The national survey of more than 3,000 found:

* Nearly half (48%) of Americans say their biggest stressor is money.

* Health issues stress out 33% of Americans.

* 32% of Americans are stressed by employment issues ranging from on-the-job stress to unemployment.

* Parents are the most stressed-out group, at 39%.

* African-Americans are the most stressed (38%); non-Hispanic whites, the least (30%).

* The college-educated were least stressed (at 25%), most likely because they hold better-paying jobs.

Show of hands: who’s not surprised by any of this?

As for how we deal with stress, the study says:

* 82% African-Americans pray or meditate; 77% of Asian-Americans “talk it out” (this sounds totally off to me, but at least we don’t “hug it out”); 52% of whites exercise.

* 42% of women eat to reduce stress, vs. 31% of men. Again with the show of hands?

* 82% watch TV, read or listen to music; 26% smoke, drink or do drugs; 12% pop the Rx solution.

Here’s something a little more disturbing for someone with a chronic, stress-related illness. The study found 51% of Americans “view chronic stress as a personal weakness rather than a health problem or warning sign.” That’s especially true among us minorities–57% of Asians and 64% of Latinos (vs. 39% of whites).

So not only are we stressed, we’re stressed out by stress. My point to begin with.