Money, Work, Economy and Housing Top Stressors for New York City Residents, APA Survey Finds

NEW YORK, Oct. 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — By simply turning on the news or opening a newspaper, it is easy to see that money, work, and the economy are worrying many Americans. And while the fast pace of New York City may appear to cause more stress for its residents, a survey released today by the American Psychological Association (APA) shows that New Yorkers actually mirror adults nationally as to what causes them stress and how they manage that stress. The survey, conducted in June, highlights the already stressed state of Americans before the recent financial crisis took hold.

Although fewer New Yorkers report managing their stress well than the rest of the country — 74 percent versus 81 percent of Americans nationwide — what they are stressed about is on par with the Nation as whole. Housing costs marked the starkest difference between New Yorkers and Americans, with 67 percent of New York survey responders citing it as a significant source of stress versus 47 percent nationally. In addition, New Yorkers are more stressed about workplace issues, with 56 percent reporting job stability (42 percent nationally) and 59 percent of employed New Yorkers reporting low salaries (49 percent nationally) as significant sources of stress.

The APA survey also found that slightly more New York City residents are using exercise or walking as a way to handle their stress than the rest of the country — 51 percent of them say they turn to exercise or walking to relieve their stress, whereas 47 percent do so nationally. Furthermore, 8 percent of New Yorkers and 9 percent of Americans nationwide play sports to manage their stress.

"Exercise, walking and other forms of physical activity, are healthy and proactive ways to handle your stress," says psychologist Dr. Katherine Nordal, Executive Director for Professional Practice of the American Psychological Association. "People often turn to overeating, drinking or other destructive behaviors in times of stress; however, such activities are harmful to their physical and emotional well-being. Remember, the healthy choice is always the best choice."

How New York City fares with the rest of America:

     --  79 percent cited money as a significant source of stress (72 percent         nationally)     --  79 percent cited work (68 percent nationally)     --  74 percent cited the economy (69 percent nationally) 

APA's annual survey reveals that money (72 percent), the economy (69 percent) and work (68 percent) are the most frequently cited causes of stress by Americans. Housing costs are a source of stress for almost half (47 percent) of Americans and job insecurity causes stress for more than one-third of employees (34 percent).

In fact, a later nationwide poll conducted in September found that stress about the economy has increased further with 80 percent of Americans citing it as a significant cause of stress, a jump from the 66 percent in April[1].

Nationally, stress is having an increased physical impact on Americans, with 53 percent reporting fatigue (51 percent in 2007) and 61 percent reporting irritability or anger (50 percent in 2007). Other symptoms include lack of interest or motivation, feeling depressed or sad, headaches and muscular tension. More than half of those surveyed (52 percent) said that stress had caused them to lose sleep in the past month.

APA offers these tips in dealing with your stress:

Understand how you experience stress and identify your sources of stress. Everyone experiences stress differently. How do you know when you are stressed? How are your thoughts or behaviors different from times when you do not feel stressed? What events or situations trigger stressful feelings? Are they related to your children, family, health, financial decisions, work, relationships or something else?

Learn your own stress signals. People experience stress in different ways. You may have a hard time concentrating or making decisions; feel angry, irritable or out of control; or experience headaches, muscle tension or a lack of energy. Gauge your stress signals.

Recognize how you deal with stress. Determine if you are using unhealthy behaviors (such as smoking, drinking alcohol and over-/under-eating) to cope. Is this a routine behavior, or is it specific to certain events or situations? Do you make unhealthy choices as a result of feeling rushed and overwhelmed?

Find healthy ways to manage stress. Consider healthy, stress-reducing activities such as meditation, exercising or talking things out with friends or family. Keep in mind that unhealthy behaviors develop over time and can be difficult to change. Don't take on too much at once. Focus on changing only one behavior at a time.

Take care of yourself. Eat right, get enough sleep, drink plenty of water and engage in regular physical activity. Ensure you have a healthy mind and body through activities like yoga, taking a short walk, going to the gym or playing sports that will enhance both your physical and mental health. Take regular vacations or other breaks from work. No matter how hectic life gets, make time for yourself — even if it's just simple things like reading a good book or listening to your favorite music.

Reach out for support. Accepting help from supportive friends and family can improve your ability to manage stress. If you continue to feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist, who can help you better manage stress and change unhealthy behaviors.

Survey Methodology

The 2008 Stress in America research was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Psychological Association between June 23, 2008, and August 13, 2008, among 1,791 adults aged 18+ who reside in the U.S. and an oversample of 228 adults aged 18+ who reside in New York. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 148,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students. Through its divisions in 54 subfields of psychology and affiliations with 60 state, territorial and Canadian provincial associations, APA works to advance psychology as a science, as a profession and as a means of promoting human welfare.

[1]The September data was collected online within the United States between September 19 and September 23, 2008, among 2,507 U.S. residents 18 or older. The April data was collected online within the United States between April 7 and April 15, 2008, among 2,529 U.S. residents aged 18 or older. Data for the April and September polls were collected using an omnibus survey; the causes of stress question included a "not applicable" response. Data presented here were calculated excluding those who responded "not applicable."

SOURCE American Psychological Association