To no one’s surprise, a recent survey reports that money is still the number one cause of stress among Americans. However, stress in general has reached the lowest point in the last seven years, showing steady decrease, as shown in the poll conducted by the American Psychological Association.
The report, published under the dramatic title of “Paying With Our Health”, was issued on February 4th, and exposed the nagging problem of money still stressing Americans out, despite the fact that the economy is steadily recovering.
The poll showed that 64 percent of adults have stressed about financial issues in 2014, ranking above three other significant sources of stress: job (60 percent), family issues and responsibilities (47 percent), and health problems (46 percent).
The report had some grim responses from the public, with almost three out of four people reporting money-related stress at least from time to time, and nearly one in four describing money problems causing extreme stress in the last month. Norman Anderson, CEO and executive vice president of the American Psychological Association, explained how important money is for building the sense of a secure living, and therefore, money issues translates into elevated levels of stress.
However, there’s also good news. Comparing this year’s stress levels to those in 2007, the poll showed a decrease of 1.3 in average, from 6.2 (on a 10-point scale) to 4.9. In spite of this decrease, the association reported that the American lifestyle includes a much higher level of stress than what it is considered healthy by psychologists. Twenty-two percent of the adults who reported extreme stress could be doing a lot more for managing the stressful situations.
The survey found that parents, women and younger adults are among the most stressed population in relation to financial problems. For example, three out of four parents checked money as a source of somewhat or significant importance. And in the women demographic, 68 percent reported money-related stress, compared to 61 percent of men.
Also, unsurprisingly, people living in a lower-income household reported higher levels of stress than those living in with higher-income. This fact has changed from 2007, when the poll showed no apparent gap between the average stress levels of people earning more or less than $50,000. However, the numbers of 2014 showed a difference of 0.5, from 5.2 to 4.7 on a 10-point scale.
As shown by Katherine Nordal, the association’s executive director for professional practice, the recent economic recovery did not improve people’s level of stress caused by money, which are continually aggravated by two economic features: inflation and wage stagnation. Nordal reported that a lot of people still feel that the economy doesn’t allow them to take care of their daily needs, barely living till the next paycheck. The process in which an economic trickling down could really help the most of the population which really needs it is still very unbalanced in United States.
On the other hand, stress caused by financial worries affects people in more way than previously thought. The survey found that one in five people has skipped or considered skipping a most needed visit to the doctor, because they feared the treatment will be above their financial possibilities. At the same time, one-third of adults reported that money issues represent one of the major sources of conflict between them and their life partners.
In their efforts of providing solutions for the high levels of money-related stress, the association proposed for people to ask for emotional support from their families and friends. The most recent survey showed that people who have nobody to lean on in troubling financial times tend to suffer more from high levels of stress than those who do.
For instance, 43 percent of people who did not benefit from emotional support have reported increased stress levels in the last year, whereas only 26 percent of people who did have family and friends supporting them reported the same level of stress.
However, talking to your friends, or even to your family, about money problems can be a tough conversation to start. Nearly one in five Americans consider this to be a taboo subject, and also more than one-third confess that talking to their close ones about their budget creates an uncomfortable situation.
Anderson, CEO of APA, suggests that teaching young people healthy financial behaviors and creating a safe environment where people can talk about this delicate subject will help all the members of a family or community to get through tougher times. The principle he advocates is being there for others, as they will more likely be there for you.
Among the most effective solutions in battling stress, two out of five adults reported that listening to music, working out or watching their favorite TV series reduced their stress.
The aforementioned poll surveyed more than 3,000 American adults last August.
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