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American Psychological Association poll shows Americans are more stressed out than ever

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Apr 26, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-26 17:31:09-04

April is Stress Awareness Month and a recent poll found Americans are under an unprecedented level of stress.

According to a recent report from the American Psychological Association, 65% said they were stressed about money and the economy along with the war in Ukraine.

So a psychologist sat down with ABC Action News Anchor Wendy Ryan to share advice on the best ways to deal with that stress.

"We are at the beginning of a mental health pandemic. The need for services and help right now is great," explained Dr. Gregory Jantz, a psychologist and best-selling author.

Jantz said stress is at an all-time high mainly because of the ongoing crises over the last two years from the pandemic.

"People are still waking up, feeling that anxiety, feeling that stress. And after a while, you know, it takes a toll on the body physically. And we begin to look at times for some unhealthy ways of coping with this chronic stress," he said.

And a recent poll backs that up. According to the American Psychological Association, nearly a quarter (23%) of the respondents said they tried to cope with pandemic stress by drinking more alcohol and 58% had undesired weight fluctuations.

"When anxiety and stress are high over a period of time, addiction rates do go up," Jantz added.

That A.P.A. Report also found 65% were stressed about money and the economy, which is the highest percentage recorded since 2015.

And 84% felt the Russian invasion of Ukraine is "terrifying to watch."

''We've got to have guardrails around us about how much negative information are we going to allow ourselves to be saturated with,'' he explained.

80% surveyed were concerned Russia would retaliate against the United States either through cyber-attacks or nuclear threats. And Jantz said that fear can paralyze our minds.

"We need to move beyond ourselves. The fear is real, but we cannot dwell upon it. It will take us where we don't want to go," Jantz added.

So finding ways to volunteer can help calm that fear, he said.

"Where can I be of help and be of service in any way? And when we're stressed, look beyond being self-absorbed. How can I in some way help somebody else?" he asked.

Finally, if you're stressing about your kid's well-being, you're not alone.

More than 70% of parents fear the pandemic has impacted their child's social, academic and emotional development. And 68% are concerned about kids' cognitive and physical development.

"Kids need to know they're loved, they're valued, and that they have a future. Be careful about the negativity that we may be saying about our own lives. Kids absorb it," he said.

Stress can also present in physical ways, including headaches, lack of energy, a short temper, an upset stomach, difficulty sleeping, poor self-esteem and aches and pains.

Stress also causes the body to release hormones that, long-term, can lead to serious health problems including heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure and hormonal issues.

Dr. Jantz is an author and hosts a weekly Facebook live question and answer talk about how to address stress and anxiety. You can check him out by visiting drgregoryjantz.com.