Stress

We’re on an emotional rollercoaster. It’s been a wild ride since March with a global pandemic, economic upheaval, and now ongoing protests over police brutality and systemic racism.

According to a new Gallup Poll, more Americans reported experiencing negative emotions in the first week of June than the last week of May. But the next week, June 8-14, the same emotions of anger, sadness worry and stress returned to their former levels. Similarly, positive emotions of happiness and enjoyment dipped and went back to where they were.

As Gallup noted, “Reports of feeling anger changed more than any emotion, rising from 25% in the last week of May to 38% in the first week of June, before falling back to 27% the following week. There was a nearly double-digit increase in the percentage of Americans feeling sadness, with smaller increases for worry and stress.”

A new survey report by the American Psychological Association shows that more than 8 in 10 Americans say the nation’s future is a significant source of stress. Following George Floyd’s death while in police custody on Memorial Day — set against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic — 72% of Americans say this is the lowest point in the country’s history that they can remember, the report showed.

“We are experiencing the collision of three national crises — the COVID-19 pandemic, economic turmoil and recent, traumatic events related to systemic racism. As a result, the collective mental health of the American public has endured one devastating blow after another, the long-term effects of which many people will struggle for years to come,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., Ph.D., APA’s chief executive officer.

Stay-at-home orders, job losses, and business and school closings this past spring upended our daily lives. Many have reported having trouble sleeping, along with increased eating and consumption of alcohol. Mandatory mask orders and social distancing turn even the most ordinary errand into an ordeal. But as public health restrictions begin to lift, we’re able to get out more and perhaps get that long overdue haircut or visit a favorite reopened store.

But what does all of this point to? The need to take care of yourself, physically, mentally and emotionally. Take a walk. Exercise. Eat healthily. Call your loved ones. Watch a comedy. Remember: This too shall pass.

— Pamela Stallsmith

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