How’s your stress level lately? If it’s low, good for you! And if it isn’t, hopefully you’re working on some inventive ways to bring yourself more into the “aaah” mode.
If you’d like to know how others are doing, American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” report for 2011 has the story. Here are highlights I think you’ll find relevant:
APA says we older adults are less likely than younger generations to report we experience high levels of stress. That’s because we’re more likely to recognize the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle or have been told by a health care provider to reduce our stress. It’s true that we boomers are more aware of our health and how to manage it than previous generations, so that gives us an edge.
About boomers specifically:
- Our average assessments of personal stress levels have declined steadily, from 6.5 in 2007 to 4.9 in 2011. Overall numbers suggest a movement to more manageable stress, and that’s a good thing, especially in light of current economic conditions which have made the lives of many increasingly difficult.
- To manage stress, we boomers are much more likely than millennials (a.k.a. Generation Y, born between 1982 and 2002) to report being flexible and willing to compromise (46 percent vs. 33 percent) and to say that we adjust our expectations (36 percent vs. 27 percent). Maybe that’s because we’ve learned to “go with the flow.”
- We find significant stress in issues around money, work and housing costs (77 percent, 64 percent and 54 percent respectively). I believe those issues are stressful for most everyone, especially in 2012.
- Reading is a stress management staple of the boomer generation (47 percent).
- Boomers (39 percent) are notably more likely than younger to pray during stressful times. I don’t find that surprising, do you?
- Six in 10 Boomers (62 percent) think managing stress is important, but less than 4 in 10 (38 percent) do it well. That means we’ve got more work to do.
Here’s a short list to get you started, and keep you going:
- Be positive (or at least try). It’s easier said than done, but it can change everything.
- Practice meditation, yoga, tai-chi.
- Work out and keep moving.
- Eat a healthy, balanced diet and go easy on caffeine and alcohol.
- Build and maintain a support network of friends you can talk to.
- Develop your hobbies, and take time to do them. This means not working all the time and managing that time efficiently.
- Know that you can’t control everything, darn it.
- Get sufficient sleep.
- If you can’t manage, it’s ok to get help from a professional, like a psychologist.