• Fri, Feb 8 2013

Why Are Twentysomethings So Stressed Out?

young-adult-stress

Nearly everyone I know is stressed out. Old, young, in between: everybody feels stressed on a regular basis. With the economy the way it is, all the terrible things going on in the world and just plain daily frustrations at work and home, keeping calm can be difficult. For my generation, in particular, the job market we entered is absurdly difficult to penetrate, our loans are sky-high and ; it’s nearly impossible to avoid anxiety and stress building intensely. It’s just one problem on top of another on top of another until we all fall down like Jenga blocks.

The annual Stress in America national survey by Harris Interactive for the American Psychological Association yielded some rather disheartening results for those who are optimistic about change in our mindsets. Of the the 2,000 American adults aged 18 and over, 35 percent questioned stated that they felt more stress this year than the last. What’s worse: a whopping 53 percent report receiving little to no support to help treat their elevated stress from their health care providers (thus likely causing even more frustrated feelings).

The reasons for stress vary, but many have quite a bit in common: “69% of participants citing financial problems and conflicts as the primary cause of their anxiety, while 65% fingered work, 61% noted the economy, and 56% pointed to relationship angst.” And young people in their twenties are even more likely to feel the first three: 75 percent reported work and money being the main cause of their stress. Instead of healthily dealing with stress, however, many turn to food, video games and other sources of entertainment to unwind better.

I feel extraordinarily lucky that I have a job, can provide for myself and don’t have any devastating medical conditions, but I acknowledge that my situation is not necessarily the norm. While many people I know are in the same boat, if not much better (you know, people who didn’t major in Creative Writing like myself), I also have dozens upon dozens of friends who constantly worry about money, health problems and familial issues that are never easily solved. Granted, this is the case with most generations these days; everybody has money, medical and social issues.

But perhaps what distinguishes the twenty-somethings right now is that we have come into our adulthood in a stress-enhancing, anxiety-focused environment, allowing that to become part of who we are while we developed. Being stressed out is kind of what we do because for our entire youth and even moreso during our adult lives, we have been trained to expect the worst. So, we do, and since stress comes holding hands with pessimism, we’ve wound up being the most stressed out of our time.

On the bright side, 61 percent did say that their doctors discussed behavioral and lifestyle changes that could help their health improve, but that doesn’t change the fact that over half of those surveyed were stuck dealing with stress on their own. We know that stress can wreak havoc on your body and appearance, so why aren’t doctors doing more to help people with this important issue? If you’re feeling stressed out and need help to cope, be sure to talk to your doctor about it. If he or she does not take you seriously, talk to another one; just make sure you deal healthily and safely to reduce stres as much as possible.

Photo: Shutterstock

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  • Anne

    “Instead of healthily dealing with stress, however, many turn to food, video games, or other sources of entertainment to unwind better.”
    Looking past the questionable grammar in the above sentence, I’d like to ask why turning to video games and other sources of entertainment is not a “healthy” way of dealing with stress? There are a lot more unhealthy things one might do to unwind. I mean, if I get home from a stressful day at work, play on my Wii Fit for half an hour, and then settle down with a book, how exactly is that unhealthy? It’s a hell of a lot better than drinking excessively, smoking cigarettes, or a host of other things I could be doing to de-stress. If you’re going to make an assertion like that, you should back it up with facts or at least examples of what you mean.