Plus, there’s only one country on earth more stressed out than America
Misery has a lot of company these days.
People around the world are more miserable than they’ve ever been, according to a study by Gallup of 154,000 people in more than 145 countries released Wednesday. Indeed, Gallup’s so-called “Negative Experience Index” — which is an average of people’s self-reports of their daily levels of worry, stress, physical pain, sadness and anger — has hit the highest level since Gallup began measuring the data a decade ago.
While the data doesn’t show why misery is on the upswing, Julie Ray, the chief writer and editor for Gallup World Poll, says that it may be because “a lot of countries are in turmoil right now” and since we’re all so interconnected, that unhappiness and pain has spread across the world.
|% of people worldwide who experienced this in the past day||% of people in the U.S. who experienced this in the past day|
What’s more, the Negative Experience Index score for Americans is higher than the average around the world. And that may be because Americans are now more stressed out than people in any other country except one: Greece. Indeed, 49% of Americans say they were stressed a lot of the previous day (compared to 37% on average across the world); in Greece that number was 66%.
So what’s eating at us? Research shows that political anxieties, money and work are big stressors in Americans’ lives. A survey released last year from the American Psychological Association found that 63% of Americans said they were stressed about the future of our nation, 62% about money, 61% about work and 57% about the current political climate. Plus, 59% believe that this is the lowest point in our nation’s history that they can remember.
No matter the source of your stress, here are fiv things you can easily do every day to lower it:
Breathe deeply. Research shows that slow, deep breaths can help you manage stress on the spot. “This is because when you breathe deeply, it sends a message to your brain to calm down and relax. The brain then sends this message to your body. Those things that happen when you are stressed, such as increased heart rate, fast breathing, and high blood pressure, all decrease as you breathe deeply to relax,” according to a report from the University of Michigan.
Tap your five senses for a mindful break, advises says Dr. Crystal I. Lee, a Los Angeles-based psychologist and owner of LA Concierge Psychologist. “Name five things you see, four things you feel, three things you hear, two things you smell, and one thing you taste. Doing this quick check-in will help recenter you,” she says.
Identify what triggers your stress, says Dr. Jodi J. De Luca, a clinical psychologist at Erie Colorado Counseling. “Is it a particular environment? Person? Situation? Thought? Once you identify the triggers of your negative and stressful self-talk, you have a better chance of catching yourself, turning negative self-statements into positive ones, and even preventing them thereby reducing stress levels,” she says.
Destress your workday. Six in 10 Americans are stressed about work, APA data show — but there are ways to make workplace stress a little less. “Socializing protects us against the effects of stress. So, instead of spending all day in your office, take a little time to build relationships with your coworkers,” says Lee. “Not only will this protect you against stress, but in times of stress, you can then reach out to your colleagues for support.”
Plus, she adds that you can use your lunch break to destress by eating mindfully instead of scarfing. This involves eating slowly and paying attention to how your food looks and smells before you take a bite, focusing on the texture of the food as you chew and the different flavors on it, she explains.
Don’t forget about the basics. “It’s harder to combat the effects of stress when the basics of wellbeing are not covered. Be sure to sleep enough, eat healthfully, and get in some exercise,” says Lee. Those basics should include dealing with your finances, as money is one of the top stressors for Americans; here’s a step-by-step guide to finally creating a solid budget https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-to-make-a-budget-2016-07-19.
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