Americans have frighteningly high levels of stress

By Breanne Williams, COLUMNIST
On February 15, 2017

Americans are facing the highest levels of stress in a decade, according to a new study by the American Psychological Association. SPECIAL TO THE ORACLE

Apparently that pit of anxiety that has slowly been building in your chest over the past year that seems to be unable to dissipate is felt by over two-thirds of Americans.

An annual study by the American Psychological Association (APA) conducted in January found we are more stressed over the past year than we have been in a decade. 

While the economy and job security are usually the main reasons Americans lay awake at night, this year’s study found a new issue had been added to the list: politics.

“The fact that two-thirds of Americans are saying the future of the nation is causing them stress, it is a startling number,” Vaile Wright, a licensed psychologist and member of APA’s Stress in America team, said. 

Not surprisingly, those living in urban locations, minority groups, millennials and those with a college education had the highest levels of stress about the election.

“It seems to suggest that what people thought would happen, that there would be relief [after the election] did not occur, and instead since the election, stress has increased,” Wright said. “And not only did overall stress increase, what we found in January is the highest significant increase in stress in 10 years. That’s stunning.”

The study found 66 percent of Americans reported anxiety over the future of the country, 57 percent about the current political climate and 49 percent about the outcome of the election. 

“It’s not just about who won the election. It’s having a much larger impact, and it likely has to do with this global sense of uncertainty, divided-ness and this unprecedented speed of change,” Wright said. “So we try to seek out ways to control it, which is to be informed. And while it’s really important to stay informed right now, there’s a point where you have to know your limits; there’s a saturation point where there isn’t new information.”

Millennials report more stress than any other generation. Over half said they have lain awake at night due to stress over the past month. Thirty-six percent reported having greater stress in the past year, and college students are more anxious than ever reported, according
to the APA.

Millennials are no strangers to stress. 

We were children when 9/11 happened and have been at war for the majority of our lives. We grew up in the Great Recession and have heard our parents whisper about a flopping housing market and a spiraling economy. 

We were told a college education was necessary for getting a job, and then that we had to go into STEM programs to get a job capable of paying the bills. Many of us work two jobs, pick up unpaid internships and take out loans to earn the degree we hope launches us into a stable future. 

We’ve been surrounded by change. 

Human rights have been on the forefront of our minds for decades. According to the Pew Research Center, 71 percent of millennials support same sex marriage, 76 percent say immigrants strengthen the country and over half claim to be political independents.

We grew up under Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama, two very different leaders. Partisan environments are our norm.

As different politically as Bush and Obama were, they never handled running the nation quite like Donald Trump. 

A “not a Muslim ban” Muslim ban was implemented within his first week, an executive order was written to begin plans on building a wall on the southern border, construction on the Keystone and Dakota Access Pipelines was renewed and the Affordable Care Act is being torn apart in an effort to allegedly save money.

Foreign leaders mock our new president and he does not seem interested in fostering peaceful relationships with our allies. Every day we receive alerts on a new and more insane decision made by the administration. 

Not to mention the fact that the rest of the world seems to be spiraling into war, rebellions and natural disasters everywhere we look.

It’s maddening.

So yes, millennials are stressed. 

At the end of the day, our generation is going to face the most repercussions of the decisions made in the next four years. We are going to take the brunt of these political actions and we — hopefully — will be the ones to remedy them.

 

Breanne Williams is a senior majoring in mass communications. 

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