Reported stress varied by education, with 53 percent of those with more than a high school education reporting very or somewhat significant stress related to the election outcome, compared to 38 percent of those with a high school education or less. Additionally, a greater percentage of Americans who reside in urban areas said the same (62 percent), compared with those who live in suburban (45 percent) and rural (33 percent) areas.
These additional stressors may be affecting Americans' health. The percentage of people reporting at least one health symptom because of stress rose from 71 percent to 80 percent over five months. A third of Americans have reported specific symptoms such as headaches (34 percent), feeling overwhelmed (33 percent), feeling nervous or anxious (33 percent) or feeling depressed or sad (32 percent).
"While these common health symptoms might seem minor, they can lead to negative effects on daily life and overall physical health when they continue over a long period," said Nordal.
APA encourages people to stay informed but know their own limits when it comes to taking in information as one way to diminish the constant exposure to potentially distressing information and the resulting physical symptoms.
"For many, the transition of power and the speed of change can cause uncertainty and feelings of stress, and that stress can have health consequences. If the 24-hour news cycle is causing you stress, limit your media consumption," said Nordal. "Read enough to stay informed but then plan activities that give you a regular break from the issues and the stress they might cause. And remember to take care of yourself and pay attention to other areas of your life."This marks the 10-year anniversary of the Stress in America™ report, part one of a two-part release. APA will release part two on Feb. 23, highlighting how technology use affects stress among Americans.
To read the full Stress in America™ report or download graphics, visit www.stressinamerica.org.
Two definitions of waiting well.
Waiting for uncertain news is often distressing, at times even more distressing than facing bad news. The goal of this article was to investigate strategies for "waiting well" during these periods of uncertainty. Specifically, we propose 2 definitions of waiting well. First, people can wait in such a way as to ease their distress during the waiting period. Second, people could wait in such a way as to ease the pain of bad news or enhance the thrill of good news. We conducted a longitudinal study of law graduates awaiting their result on the California bar exam.
Participants completed questionnaires prior to the exam, every 2 weeks during the 4-month waiting period, and shortly after learning whether they passed or failed. Cross-lagged models revealed that participants were quite unsuccessful at waiting well by our first definition. That is, their coping strategies were ineffective for reducing distress associated with uncertainty, apparently even backfiring in some cases. However, multiple regression analyses examining relationships between waiting experiences and responses to good and bad news found that many participants were successful at waiting well according to our second definition: Participants who suffered through a waiting period marked by anxiety, rumination, and pessimism responded more productively to bad news and more joyfully to good news, as compared with participants who suffered little during the wait. These findings substantiate the difficulty of enduring a stressful waiting period but suggest that this difficulty may pay off once the news arrives.
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