Health overwhelmed financial problems in terms of causes of stress.

We are all stressed. Work can get some people down, and of course money is something we all worry about. But Americans with health issues are more likely to experience a great deal of stress than anyone else, according to a recent poll conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and NPR.



“Health overwhelmed what I thought would have been financial problems” in terms of causes of stress, said Robert Blendon, a professor of health policy and political analysis at the Harvard School of Public Health in a livestreamed discussion forum about stress at Harvard on July 9.

Causes Of Stress

The poll asked 2,505 adults how stressed out they were and what it was that caused them the most trouble.

About half of the population said they’d experienced a majorly stressful event in the past year. Almost half of that group, 43%, said that that event was health related. The next biggest block was people who had problems at work, 13% of the group.

When respondents answered a question about whether or not they’d been extremely stressed in the past month, people in poor health were more than twice as likely as the general public to report that they’d experienced a great deal of stress in the past month — 60% of the poor health group identified as highly stressed. Next came disabled respondents, 45% of whom identified as stressed out, followed by a tie between 36% of people with a chronic illness and 36% of low-income respondents. Similar numbers of single parents and parents of teens (about 35%) reported highly stress levels in the past month.

Still, even though more people in poor health reported high levels of stress than any other group, when all respondents in the “highly stressed in the last month” group listed what contributed to their stress, a few contributing factors beat out health issues: too many responsibilities overall, financial problems, and work problems.

But one of the most pernicious things about health-related stress is that it seems to become a self-perpetuating cycle: people who are stressed about their health end up experiencing worse health as result, which then stresses them out more.

The Importance Of Coping Strategies

And it’s not just health, many stress issues are interrelated. Poor health can be expensive too, and stress makes people less productive at work, which causes other problems, said Joshua Riff, Medical Director at Target Corporation, at the Harvard stress forum.

Stress also makes it harder for people to spend time with family, spend time with friends, participate in community or volunteering activities, sleep well, and eat well — all things that can help reduce stress.

But as hard as it can be to spend time with friends and engage in activities when feeling overwhelmed, it’s important to try and do so.

When asked what strategies helped people relax, 94% of people who spent time outdoors said that doing so was effective at reducing stress levels. Having pets, meditating, and spending time with loved ones are all also effective coping strategies.

Figuring out how to incorporate those strategies into day-to-day life is essential.

“Your workload is never going to get lower until the day you retire, technology is just going to get faster, the amount of information coming at you is just going to grow and grow and grow,” said Riff.

Because of that, he says that building resiliency skills, which help people deal with stress without becoming overwhelmed, needs to be a key goal for both individuals and their employers. Riff asks, “so how do you change you, your perspective, and how do you build resiliency skills?”

Via Business Insider