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Stress in America: Our Healthcare System Falls Short

Stress in America: Our Healthcare System Falls ShortDo you want to improve your health and decrease your stress level?

If you’re experiencing some of the common symptoms of stress, such as irritability or anger, fatigue, feeling overwhelmed and changes in sleeping habits, then the physical and mental consequences of stress are all too clear.

And if you have made efforts to improve your stress levels, you’re not alone.  According to a new survey, Stress in America: Missing the Health Care Connection, which was conducted online by Harris Interactive, Americans think it’s important to improve their health and levels of stress.

Over the past five years, 60 percent of adults have tried to reduce their stress and more than half are still trying to meet this goal, according to the survey.

In fact, according to the survey’s findings, Americans are struggling to keep their stress at levels that they believe are healthy.  But how well do we do that?

Average reported stress levels have dropped in recent years, but they are still considered at unhealthy levels, according to those surveyed.  And although overall stress levels dropped, almost three-quarters of respondents say that their stress level has increased or stayed the same over the past five years and 80 percent say their stress level has increased or stayed the same in the past year.

But when it comes to making changes, many people are struggling.  People are reporting exercise as well as sedentary behaviors like listening to music, reading or watching television or movies as strategies for managing stress. 

However, we are are also spending time lying awake, overeating or eating unhealthy foods and skipping meals due to stress.

Despite their interest in making changes for a healthier life, many adults face barriers, such as lack of time, lack of willpower and lack of support, that prevent them from achieving their health and wellness goals.

Millennials (people ages 18 to 33) and people with chronic health conditions seem to be struggling the most when it comes to finding support for making healthy lifestyle changes to reduce stress. Millennials report higher stress levels than other Americans and nearly half report that they are not doing enough to manage their stress. Few report support from their health care provider for stress or behavior management.

And although stress increases your risk of becoming chronically ill and increases the risk that your defenses will be overwhelmed by disease, adults with chronic illness also lack support for managing their stress.  Stress is on the rise for those with chronic illness, but few are getting any support for managing that stress, which, in turn, could have devastating effects on the course of their illness.

So what can you do to better manage your stress? 

The answer is individual and has much to do with your lifestyle and personality.  However, a few tips from the good folks over at the American Psychological Association include: evaluating your lifestyle for stress, focusing on your own physical health and changing one habit at a time.

Need Help Changing Your Stress-Relief Habits?

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Stress in America: Our Healthcare System Falls Short

Christy Matta, MA

Christy Matta M.A. is a trainer, consultant and writer. She is the author of "The Stress Response: How Dialectical Behavior Therapy Can Free You from Needless Anxiety, Worry, Anger, and Other Symptoms of Stress."

Christy has worked in mental health since 1994, is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavior Therapy(DBT) and has extensive training in Mindfulness. She is an experienced group leader and trainer in both Mindfulness and DBT Skills Groups. Christy blogs regularly for Psych Central at Dialectical Behavior Therapy Understood.

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APA Reference
Matta, C. (2018). Stress in America: Our Healthcare System Falls Short. Psych Central. Retrieved on October 24, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Jul 2018 (Originally: 14 Mar 2013)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Jul 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.