Stress due to the economic downturn is causing more of us to be irritable, angry, sleepless, and self-medicating through food.
 
And stress in the workplace is costing business $300 billion a year, according to the American Psychological Association (APA), due to the loss of productivity, absenteeism, turnover and increased medical costs.
 
The APA completed its survey, Stress in America, in August 2008 — more than a month ago, well before yesterday’s biggest stock market fall in 4 years.
The APA warns that the levels of stress felt by Americans due to the financial downturn can wreak significant havoc on health. 46% of Americans are now worried about providing for their families’ basic needs. One can imagine this number will be much higher based on the past few weeks’ financial events.
 
A spokesperson from the APA warns, “Stress that people don’t feel they have any control over” causes more concern. “It’s almost like a different threat level.”‘
 
The key “significant sources of stress” among Americans, according to the APA, are:
  • Money, cited by 72% of Americans
  • The economy, cited by 69%
  • Work, reported by 68%
  • Relationships, mentioned by 59%
  • Housing, cited by 47%
  • Job insecurity, felt by 34% of Americans.

The APA recognizes that stress can increase ill health. The most obvious health impacts of stress include fatigue (53%), lack of interest and motivation, feeling depressed, headaches and muscular tension. Over half of Americans say stress has caused them to lose sleep in the past month.

Health Populi’s Hot Points: To deal with the stressors that we all feel in this uncertain time, the APA offers several helpful tips:
 
Learn your own ‘stress signals.’ They might be anger or irritability, headaches or muscle tension, low energy.
 
 
 
Recognize how you deal with stress. If it’s increasing alcohol intake or using food (either under-eating or over-eating), be aware and make healthier choices.
 
 
Find healthy ways to manage stress. The #1 method, which has lots of health benefits, is exercise, followed by meditation and talking with friends and family.
 
 
Focus on changing one behavior at a time. If you’re beginning to quit smoking, don’t pressure yourself with a major new dietary regime.
 
 
Take care of yourself: eat right, sleep sufficiently, drink lots of water, and engage in physical activity. Healthy body, healthy mind!
 
 
Take time for yourself. Music, crafting, watching movies and satiric political YouTube videos can be therapeutic activities.
 
 
Reach out for support. Accept help from friends and family. Seek help from mental health professionals if you feel they could help manage stress and support changing unhealthy behaviors.

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