Beginning in 2004, the APA began to complete a survey study of the connection between stress, behavioral, and mind/body health. Since then, annual surveys have been conducted.
1,134 adults aged 18 and above, and 1,136 young people aged 8 – 17 years old., within the U.S. were surveyed to paint a picture of how Americans are dealing with Stress. An oversample of 200 adults were also interviewed living in the Los Angeles area.
How Stressed is Los Angeles?
In general, when you look at the stress levels Americans have reported over the past three years, the numbers are still high. Stress levels in Los Angeles are higher than the national average. Money, work and the economy are significant causes of stress for residents of Los Angeles area.
The survey showed that while reports are that the nation’s economy is more residents this years in L.A. said the economy is a significant cause of stress (75% in 2010 from 57% in 2009) and more residents in 2010 also attribute their stress to money (76% in 2010 v 67% in 2009).
In terms of job satisfaction, L.A. residents report feeling less satisfied with their job than previous years, and they are less likely than the rest of the country to recommend their workplace to others. At their jobs, L.A. residents report more stress than before, and that their employer does not help employees
balance work and personal life demands.
How Stress is Affecting Them
The survey also shows that more people are reporting serious health diagnoses, such as asthma, arthritis, and chronic pain. The waistline of L.A. residents is also growing—those who were told by a healthcare provider that they were overweight or obese also rose in 2010 (from 25 to 29 %).
The most common physical symptoms of stress reported were irritability, fatigue, and lack of energy or motivation.
Barriers to Change
The positive news is that fewer L.A. residents this year blame either willpower or lack of time for their failure to make healthy lifestyle changes, as they did in 2009. However, twice as many people in the L.A. area cite disability or health concerns as a barrier to a healthy lifestyle. It is a concern that people in the L.A. area are reporting higher stress levels than the rest of the country, especially when we know that there is a strong connection between chronic stress and serious health problems.
But stress can be managed and people can change their behaviors and adopt a lifestyle that improves their health. It appears that Americans are caught in a vicious cycle where they manage stress in unhealthy ways, and lack the willpower and time constraints that impede their ability to make lifestyle
When it comes to managing stress, Los Angeles residents are more likely to listen to music, exercise or walk, and spend time with family and friends, and read. Nationally, many Americans rely on sedentary activities and unhealthy ways to manage their stress. For example 38% watch television ore 2 or more
hours a day and 35% play video games or surf the internet as a means of managing their stress.
To read the full report on Los Angeles and the United States, visit www.stressinamerica.org.