These are the top-ranked stressors of 2023. Here’s how to deal with them.

Earlier this month, the American Psychological Association released its Stress in America 2023 report, which detailed the issues that caused Americans the most stress this year, and many of them may sound familiar.

Researchers surveyed 3,185 adults of various backgrounds; The data included 805 blacks, 811 Latinos, and 800 Asians. They found that common stressors are often things that repeat themselves over and over again, things like money, the economy and health-related stressors, Lynn Bufka, associate chief for practice transformation at the American Psychological Association, told HuffPost.

Unlike worrying about a job presentation or coordinating a family wedding, these stressors aren’t things you can just squash.

It’s not an area you have a lot of control over… and on top of that, you still have to figure out, how do I pay for my groceries? Will I pay rent this month? Bufka said.

Below, experts break down the most common issues highlighted in the report and share how you can address them if you’re struggling too:

Money and economy

Approximately 63% of adults surveyed said they were stressed about money, while 64% said they were stressed about the economy. Compared to 2019 data, the percentage of Americans who are stressed about the economy rose from 45 percent, Bufka says.

It’s no surprise: Basic necessities like groceries have become increasingly expensive in recent years. According to the US Department of Agriculture, food prices in September 2023 were 3.7% higher than in September 2022 (and 2022 wasn’t exactly cheap either). Housing costs are also becoming more unbearable, eating out is more expensive and car costs are also higher.

Questions related to health

According to the data, 65% of adults stated that health problems burdened them. While shops, restaurants and businesses have reopened, the COVID-19 pandemic is still taking a heavy toll on people. A press release about the report says it has to do with the idea that life is returning to normal when in reality our mental and physical health is forever changed. Respondents also said health care costs were a concern, along with fears for the health of loved ones.

In addition, stress itself can be a trigger. It doesn’t surprise me that health-related stressors are so high because experiencing stress over a period of time has health consequences, Bufka said.

When chronic stress accumulates, it can lead to several health conditions, Bufka says. We see it’s related to things like inflammation, we see it’s related to the wear and tear of the immune system.

Chronic stress puts people at risk for depression and anxiety, as well as problems such as digestive problems, heart disease and stroke, Bufka added.

The future of our country and social divisions

All it takes is a few minutes of scrolling or watching the news to realize that there are political, social, and economic issues that are present throughout the country, along with strong (and widely divergent) opinions on these topics.

In the survey, the future of our nation was counted as a stressor by 68% of people, and social division was included as a stressor by 55%.

Mass shootings and violence

According to the Gun Violence Archive, there have been 602 mass shootings in the United States this year. This is understandably all the more stressful for Americans. About 56% of adults in the survey said it was something that caused them stress. In this regard, 61% are concerned about general violence and crime.

Global conflicts

Half of adults surveyed say global conflict is another chronic stressor in their lives. Bufka noted that the ongoing war in Ukraine is part of the stressor. (It’s worth noting that this poll was conducted in August, which was before the war between Israel and Hamas.)

Discrimination and personal safety

According to the survey, 39% of respondents said that personal safety is a constant source of stress, and 27% said that discrimination is a stressor.

Certain groups of people cited discrimination as a stressor more than others; 45% of LGBTKIA+, 43% of blacks, 40% of Latinos said it causes them to fight.

The data in the study underscores the overwhelming evidence supporting the need for tailored wellness interventions for targeted demographics (looking at race/gender differences), Taisha Caldwell-Harvey, a licensed psychologist and founder and CEO of The Black Girl Doctor, told HuffPost. by e-mail.

A one-size-fits-all approach to mental health and well-being is ineffective because our experiences of stress and its triggers differ significantly depending on our individual identities, Caldwell-Harvey continued.

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Getting out into nature can be one way to take care of yourself during stressful times.

Coping with chronic, underlying stressors is difficultbut there are things you can do to make yourself feel a little better.

Jennifer Anders, a psychologist in Colorado and creator of mental health content on Instagram, said managing stress is not a one-time situation. For example, you cannot practice mindfulness once and expect it to have lasting effects on you.

They call it practice for a reason because it’s something you have to constantly remember to do in the moment, Anders said.

Here are some tips to make stress management a more regular part of your life:

Identify your main stressors and limit them where you can

The first thing is to try to recognize what are the sources of stress in your life and are there ways you can limit those sources of stress? Bufka suggested.

For example, if you’re stressed about having little free time in the week, don’t be afraid to say no to commitments. Or if watching videos on the news is adding to your stress, consume the news differently by only reading a few headlines during a certain part of the day.

Unfollow social media accounts that worry you

Anders recommended turning off your phone or unfollowing accounts that make you feel stressed (or any negative emotion, for that matter). Try following more accounts that give your brain a break from whatever is causing you stress. If turning off your phone is unmanageable, try limiting push notifications.

Focus on what you can control

The reason this is important is because it leads to that feeling of empowerment, Anders said.

For example, you can’t control COVID as a whole, but you can control your prevention measures. You can’t control the headlines, but you can control how much you consume. You can also control other aspects of your life, Anders said.

When you focus on things you can control, like health, nutrition, exercise, contributing to your family and community in a positive way, those things will kind of flip the script and … tell your brain that you’re working to have control over things and that you can significantly contribute to the improvement of society and the world, Anders said.

Take time to rest

Basic worries have a big impact on your mental health and emotions. It is important to take time to relax.

Embrace vacation time as a profoundly productive use of your time and recognize it as something worthy of a prominent place on your to-do list, Caldwell-Harvey said.

Spend time in nature

Being in nature, being among trees, being outside just produces a state of calmness in the body because nature lowers cortisol, Anders said.

Get outside as much as you can, whether it’s a park, a garden, your backyard or a national park. As a bonus, you’ll also be exposed to more daylight, which can reduce stress and improve your mental health.

Seek professional support if you need it

There are therapists who are trained to help their clients manage stress and anxiety. If you think you need additional and personalized support, don’t be afraid to find a therapist near you.

The Psychology Today database has nationwide listings and even includes people’s specialties, so you can see right away if treating stress and anxiety is something they’re good at.

Finally, know that it’s normal to feel stressed about these triggers

I just want to reiterate that none of us are immune to this, even if you have the best stress reduction practices…even me, I know how to do these things, I do them all day, every day. I’m not immune to the stress that comes with all these things, Anders said.

Just know that it’s normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the things currently plaguing the earth.

When we think about these things that are completely out of our control, it’s normal to feel that feeling of being overwhelmed, it’s a natural body reaction, Anders said. But just like that’s a natural response, your body basically wants to return to homeostasis.

It’s easy to underestimate the power that small habits can have on your mental health during stressful times, but Anders pointed out that these stress-reduction tips can help you deal with the often overwhelming emotions that accompany chronic stress.

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