A poll published Wednesday by the American Psychological Association confirmed what most Americans have complained about at some point — the constant onslaught of news stresses people out.
The APA’s ‘Stress in America‘ study set out to identify key stressors and their overall effect on the country’s climate.
Unlike the good ol’ days where news was consumed via newspaper each morning and once nightly on a national broadcast, these days, news is inescapable. And it’s evolved beyond basic information. Where news was once purely informative and opinions labelled as such, increasingly polarized and ideologically oriented news purveyors have created a climate that almost demands a response from consumers.
Health care, the economy, and hate crimes top the list of respondent concerns.
According to the APA:
When asked to think about the nation this year, nearly six in 10 adults (59 percent) report that the current social divisiveness causes them stress. A majority of adults from both political parties say the future of the nation is a source of stress, though the number is significantly higher for Democrats (73 percent) than for Republicans (56 percent) and independents (59 percent).
“We’re seeing significant stress transcending party lines,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD, APA’s chief executive officer. “The uncertainty and unpredictability tied to the future of our nation is affecting the health and well-being of many Americans in a way that feels unique to this period in recent history.”
The most common issues causing stress when thinking about the nation are health care (43 percent), the economy (35 percent), trust in government (32 percent), hate crimes (31 percent) and crime (31 percent), wars/conflicts with other countries (30 percent), and terrorist attacks in the United States (30 percent). About one in five Americans cited unemployment and low wages (22 percent), and climate change and environmental issues (21 percent) as issues causing them stress.
Trying to get a sip from a fire hose of news comes at a price. Particularly when the political media has moved from reporting what has happened to speculating on what might happen.
Adults also indicated that they feel conflicted between their desire to stay informed about the news and their view of the media as a source of stress. While most adults (95 percent) say they follow the news regularly, 56 percent say that doing so causes them stress, and 72 percent believe the media blows things out of proportion.
“With 24-hour news networks and conversations with friends, family and other connections on social media, it’s hard to avoid the constant stream of stress around issues of national concern,” said Evans. “These can range from mild, thought-provoking discussions to outright, intense bickering, and over the long term, conflict like this may have an impact on health. Understanding that we all still need to be informed about the news, it’s time to make it a priority to be thoughtful about how often and what type of media we consume.”
The APA’s advice for reducing stress? Unplug, get outside, hang out with people in real life, and pray:
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