Entries in Stress (54)


W.Va. the Most Stressed State, Hawaii the Least

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If your nerves are a bit frazzled, chances are you live in West Virginia. According to the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released earlier Wednesday, residents of this state are the most stressed-out in the nation.

Gallup has been tracking the daily stress levels of Americans since 2008. To find out how much the average citizen feels emotional and psychological stress and enjoys life on a daily basis, they polled more than 350,000 people by phone — despite the fact that numerous studies show increased phone usage can increase anxiety.

Besides West Virginians, more people who live in Rhode Island, Kentucky, Utah and Massachusetts reported a case of frayed nerves the previous day. In all those states over 40 percent of those surveyed admitted they felt some level of stress the day before being interviewed.

More people from Rhode Island, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia seem to be having a miserable time. Nearly 20 percent of people in those states told interviewers they did not enjoy themselves the day before.

Hawaiians, on the other hand, are mellow compared with those who live in the lower 48. For the second year in a row, they seemed to be the most immune to emotional stress and more likely to feel enjoyment. A mere 32 percent of Hawaiians reported feeling stressed out and nearly 90 percent said they were enjoying life. (President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.)

Other states with the fewest anxious residents included Louisiana, Iowa, Mississippi and Wyoming. After Hawaii, the states with the highest reported enjoyment levels were Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota and Idaho.

The researchers aren’t clear what the association is between stress and enjoyment, but many of the states with the highest stress levels were also states where people seemed to be having the least fun. And rankings have remained fairly consistent, with stress levels in all states remaining statistically unchanged in 2012 compared with 2011.

For example, Hawaii has ranked as the state with the lowest percentage of residents reporting stress on the prior day all five years the survey has been conducted. West Virginia, Kentucky, and Utah, have each ranked within the top five most stressed states for the past five years. West Virginia ranked as the most stressed state in 2012, Kentucky was the top state for stress in 2008 and 2011, and Utah was the top state for stress in 2009 and 2010.

Residents in other high-stress states, Kentucky and West Virginia, were also among the least likely to experience enjoyment. Both of these states have appeared among the bottom five states for experiencing enjoyment at least three times since Gallup began reporting this measure, including last year’s poll.

Regionally, states with stress levels at or above 42 percent were clustered in the Northeast and Midwest, but also included Utah, Oregon, and Washington. Utah is unique in that it routinely ranks among both the highest stress and highest enjoyment states. The researchers said they believed this underscores the complex relationship between stress and other emotions.

On average, 40.6 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed “yesterday” in this year’s survey and almost 85 percent reported feeling enjoyment “yesterday.”

You can find your state's ranking in the full report.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Time-Saving Tips Help Make the Most of Your Day

George Doyle/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- If you feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day, you are not alone. But there may be time slipping through your fingers that you can get back each day. All you need is a little organization.

On average, people waste around 40% of their workday due to poor organization. Productivity expert Julie Morgenstern has some tips to help you reclaim some of your precious time. Morgenstern has been dubbed the “queen of putting people’s lives in order” by USA Today and is a New York Times bestselling author of five books including Time Management from the Inside Out.

According to Morgenstern, the key to time management is planning. For each hour of planning, you can save up to four hours. But in order to successfully utilize your time, you need to know your energy cycles. Knowing when you are most productive, how you energize yourself and where your concentration threshold falls are all essential components in creating an efficiency plan that is best suited for you.

In order to execute your mounting to-dos, you have to prioritize a healthy lifestyle. Morgenstern stresses the importance of sleep, exercise, and eating right. While skipping a meal or skimming on a good night’s sleep can seem like a time saver, the effects of low energy and lack of concentration are productivity killers. Stress often deters people from taking the time to exercise but studies show that people who exercise before work or during lunch are 80% more productive.

One of the most important secrets to saving time is to learn how to use the magic word: “NO.” If you don’t have time, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you do. Being a people pleaser can get you bogged down with extra tasks and unnecessary stress, know the boundaries of your schedule and stick to them.

Using these simple tips can help you accumulate extra hours each week to do what you enjoy; whether it is pursuing a hobby, spending time with family and friends or taking the time to relax. Having time for yourself can lead to a healthier and more fulfilled life, so add ‘make a to-do’ list to your to-do list. Happy planning!

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Poll: Millennials Experiencing More Stress than All Other Adults

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Millennials are dealing with a good amount of stress, judging by a Harris Interactive poll released Thursday of more than 2,000 Americans 18 and older.  It was conducted for the American Psychological Association.

People 18 to 33 years old, otherwise known as the Millennial generation, have a stress level of 5.4 out of a scale of 10, with one being the lowest and 10 meaning “a great deal of stress.”  The average for all age groups is 4.9.

On top of that, 39 percent of Millennials say their stress level has risen over the past year, with just over half admitting that their concerns have kept them up worrying at night during the past month.

So what’s bugging the nation’s young people?  Plenty, according to one market researcher, who says the still soft job market combined with high expectations and a feeling of self-importance are stressing out Millennials.

The top source of stress for Millennials is work, followed by money worries, relationships, the economy and family responsibilities.

Even more troubling is that stress can lead to other problems such as depression and anxiety.  In fact, 19 percent of Millennials reported bouts of depression, higher than Generation Xers, Baby Boomers and Americans 67 and older.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Program Helps Flight Attendants Handle Stress of Job

Digital Vision/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The flight attendant's job has changed drastically in the past 10 years, with the stress level skyrocketing, as demonstrated by some of their own caught-on-tape, airborne freak-outs.

This past June, American Eagle flight attendant Jose Serrano roughly invited passengers to deplane in Raleigh-Durham, N.C.

"If you have balls to want to get off, I'll let you get off. Get off," he said into the flight PA system.

Then there was the 2010 case of JetBlue flight attendant Steven Slater, who grabbed a beer from his airplane's galley, cursed out the aircraft and bolted through the plane's emergency exit at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport, intentionally deploying the emergency slide to disembark.

"Due to 9/11, the job has become more stressful, because when passengers get on they're already stressed," Sheila Dail, a US Airways flight attendant, told ABC News.

Dail, a 30-year veteran, suffered her own traumatic and incredibly stressful day back in 2009 aboard the "Miracle on the Hudson" flight that crash landed in New York's Hudson River.

"There was a shudder; the plane shuddered," she said. "A few minutes later, we heard, 'This is the captain. Brace yourselves for impact.'"

Dail was unable to sleep for days following the experience and found she had nobody to talk to about her frightful flight. Dail's wish that she had someone to call drove her to set up a new peer-to-peer hotline called CIRP (Critical Incident Response Program). The hotline now is in its second year, using 46 volunteers to answer flight attendant crisis calls at all hours.

"We help people deal with death on board, serious illness on board," Dail said. "We have medical equipment to use ... security issues, weather issues, turbulence, emergency situations in the cockpit that require an emergency landing."

Incident reports show stress also comes from passengers "demanding drinks and cussing," according to the Association of Flight Attendants.

In one instance, a report said that a passenger "did some karate moves ... then rushed at her with his hands out in a choking way."

Susan Gilliam became part of the CIRP air team after an emergency landing made her afraid to fly.

"Sometimes, I'd turn around and just go back home and say it wasn't meant to be," said Gilliam, a US Airways Flight Attendant. "I used all of my sick time."

Trying to recover from anger and mood swings were difficult to accomplish alone.

"I thought I was strong enough to do it on my own, but I wasn't," Gilliam said.

Doug Parker, the CEO of US Airways, told ABC News that although pilots and flight attendants have trained for years for the stresses and traumatic events that can occur on a flight, it can "still be a traumatic event when it actually happens."

The CIRP program allows US Airways flight attendants to confidentially speak to another flight attendant after a traumatic event.

"They have a peer out there that they're able to talk to and be able to deal with it rather than telling them to go back out there and fly again," Parker said. "This program offers the flight attendants this opportunity to deal with that better and we're really happy it's in place."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Nor'easter Stress Is Normal for Sandy Survivors

EVA HAMBACH/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- At the height of superstorm Sandy, Jane Frank clung to her husband and three boys as the water rose. It flooded their basement and rose as high as the first floor of their Belle Harbor home in the Rockaway section of Queens. Despite the pounding rains and gusting winds, they were forced to open the upstairs windows because the smell of gas from leaks and fires in the area made it difficult to breathe.

Now their house is uninhabitable. She's relocated her family a hundred miles away to her parent's summer home in upstate New York.

And Frank said she's feeling overwhelmed and uncertain about the future. The nor'easter that bore down on the area Wednesday made her particularly anxious.

"With another storm coming in I feel like we are up against a clock," she said. "We're terrified it will set things back and it'll take even longer to get back home."

Simon Rego, the director of psychology training at Montefiore Medical Center in New York, said Frank's anxiety over the incoming weather is perfectly normal, considering what she's been through.

"People's brains are wired with a radar system that helps them look out for potential threats," he said. "It makes sense that after going through a traumatic event like a natural disaster we're primed to react to similar events."

Frank probably isn't the only one who's feeling nervous about the incoming storm system. Rego said anyone who weathered the worst of Sandy may already be suffering from acute stress disorder, a precursor to post-traumatic stress disorder.

Looking up at the storm clouds may make them feel anxious, fearful and depressed, he said, or they may feel a sense of emotional detachment to what's going on around them. They may have trouble sleeping and eating – or may they sleep too much and overeat. They may become obsessed with news reports about the storm or go to great lengths to avoid them altogether. Headaches, stomach upsets and other physical ailments are also typical symptoms of stress.

"For someone who has experienced Sandy, they may fear the worst is yet to come with this new storm," Rego said.

According to Rego, it's natural to feel worried about a storm coming in right on the heels of a superstorm. For people who've recently gone without power, heat, water -- or a place to live -- it brings up legitimate concerns.

But there are ways to help oneself. Rego said it's important to keep things in perspective by recognizing Sandy was a storm of historical proportions and a very rare event.

"Try to balance the extreme negative thoughts with more reality-based thoughts. There will be snow and wind this time around, but nothing that's predicted will be on the same scale as what Hurricane Sandy gave us," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Operation: Love Reunited Helps Military Families Cope Through Pictures

Tonee Lawrence, Operation: Love Reunited(NEW YORK) -- Nothing can take away the pain and anxiety of having a loved one deployed overseas, but for Karen Tebbeharris and her three children, a program called Operation: Love Reunited helped them get through it.

The program, nicknamed OpLove, involves a network of photographers all across the country who offer free sessions to families with loved ones scheduled for deployment.

Families are typically photographed once before deployment, and again as soon as their loved one returns home.  For a service member already overseas, OpLove offers sessions for their family members at home; an album with the finished photos is sent to their stations abroad.

Tonee Lawrence had the idea for OpLove in 2006 after her husband came home from duty in Qatar.

“My husband was deployed and I wasn’t able to get any pictures of our family when he came home because I was hugging him and stuff,” Lawrence said.  “The kids were really little so we really missed out on a precious moment there.”

More than 850 photographers volunteer for OpLove.  While the program does accept donations, most of the costs are covered by the photographers.

“They pay for almost everything out of pocket -- their time, printing, canvases -- all paid for by the photographers.” Lawrence said.  “We’re really proud of it and very dedicated to the clients and the service.”

Nothing shows that dedication more than Lawrence’s relationship with the Tebbeharris family.

“I met Tonee when she first moved to the area for her personal photography business,” Tebbeharris said.  “I called to schedule a session and when she found out my husband was going to be deployed, she told me about OpLove.”

The Tebbeharrises have three kids.  The oldest, Mykala, is 11.  Sebastian is 10 and the youngest, Aurora, is 4.

They had their first session before Karen’s husband, TSgt. Jayson Tebbeharris, left for Kuwait.  Karen said having the photos to look at while he was gone made all the difference.

“It was really helpful for us,” Tebbeharris said.  “The kids were able to sit and look through and say, ‘There’s Daddy!’  The older ones can understand it more so it helps them to have the photos but it makes a big difference, especially for the younger ones.  If there’s not a visual connect it makes it really difficult on their return.”

The OpLove sessions are not only free, Tebbeharris says there’s a level of closeness you don’t get from a traditional photography session.

“They make it very personal, whereas traditional photos can be kind of stiff.  They really catch the emotion,” Tebbeharris said.  “It’s been really helpful for us and I can only imagine how much more helpful it is for families who’s husband or father doesn’t come home.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Bad News May Cause More Stress for Women than Men

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- When reading the morning paper, women may take bad news to heart more than their male counterparts, a new study found.

The Canadian study of 56 people found women who read negative news stories were more reactive to stressful situations later on.

“If you are reading the paper every morning while drinking your cup of coffee and have a stressful day ahead, it is important to learn stress management techniques to help you through the rest of the day,” said author Marie-France Marin, a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal and lead author of the study, published Thursday in the journal PLoS One.

Marin and colleagues measured salivary levels of the stress hormone cortisol while study subjects were reading the news, and then again later during stressful tasks, such as a mock job interview or a math quiz.

Women who read negative news stories had higher cortisol levels than those who read neutral stories, according to the study.  They were also more likely to remember the negative details.

The finding did not hold true for men.

Dr. Redford Williams, professor of psychology and neuroscience at Duke University in Durham, N.C., said the study findings make sense.

“Women typically are more sensitive to others’ emotions,” he said.  He suggested the stress response has evolved to ensure survival of a woman’s offspring.

But Williams said women -- or men, for that matter -- who worry that the news is affecting their stress levels should ask themselves four simple questions:

  • Is the news important to me?
  • Are my feelings appropriate, and would another person be having these thoughts?
  • Is the situation modifiable and is there anything I can do to improve or change it?
  • Is it worth it to me to get involved in this story?

If the answer is no, Williams recommends letting the negative thought go.  Instead, repeat a positive thought or meditate, he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Job Stress Linked to Increased Heart Attack Risk

Goodshoot/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- "It's true, hard work never killed anybody, but I figure, why take the chance?" former President Ronald Reagan quipped at the Gridiron Dinner in 1987.

Reagan may have been onto something. A new review of research, published Thursday in the journal Lancet, shows that job strain can increase the risk of a heart attack and death.

The findings may be particularly relevant today. As the country struggles with an unemployment rate of 8.1 percent, many people are facing tremendous pressure to perform well on the job.

A team of researchers from across Europe examined a total of 13 previous studies conducted between 1986 and 2006 that looked at job strain as a risk factor for heart attack and death. In total, the researchers evaluated data from about 200,000 patients for an average of 7.5 years, more than two times the number of patients studied in a previous review.

The researchers found that people who have highly demanding jobs and little freedom to make decisions are 23 percent more likely to have a heart attack. This was true regardless of gender, age and socioeconomic status.

Additionally, if we assume that job strain causes heart attacks, the risk of having a heart attack from your job is 3.4 percent, relatively low compared to that of smoking (36 percent) and not exercising (12 percent). This study, though, cannot definitively demonstrate a cause-effect relationship.

Scientists think that the increase in job stress triggers your brain to go into a defensive "fight-or-flight" mode that can take its toll on the body, and your heart.

"The [theory] that work stress influences heart health is more than 30 years old," said lead study author Mika Kivimaki of University College London. "[But] the pooling of published and unpublished studies allowed us to investigate [this] with greater precision than has been previously possible."

Dr. Redford Williams, director of the Behavioral Medicine Research Center at Duke University Medical Center, said the new research could leave many wondering what they can do in light of its findings.

"I think this is an area where changing the job situation may not be something that we have that much control over," said Williams, who was not involved with the study. "It may be in the long run that [we need] an alternative approach, rather than changing the work environment, that might focus on workers, try to train them in coping skills."

Williams said he has seen beneficial outcomes in highly stressed patients in his anger and stress management workshop LifeSkills, which provides training in coping skills and building supportive relationships.

He also stresses the importance of other psychosocial factors involved such as depression or stress at home that may play a role in risk of heart disease. Depression and anxiety are among the 10 most common diagnoses in primary care.

Moreover, many studies show that depression occurs more often in patients after a heart attack, creating a perpetual cycle of worsening severe heart disease and major depression.

Still, the American Heart Association considers stress a contributing risk factor to heart disease, but not a major risk factor. According to the AHA, healthy measures like quitting smoking, controlling cholesterol, exercising and maintaining a healthy weight are better ways of reducing your risk of coronary heart disease.

There are also major heart disease risk factors you cannot control, such as getting older, being male and your genes.

If there is one thing that is clear, it is that heart disease is a significant problem in the United States.

An American will have a coronary event about every 25 seconds, and someone will die of one about every minute, according to the updated 2012 AHA report on heart disease.

More than 16 million Americans have heart disease. It caused one of every six deaths in 2008, accounting for more than 400,000 deaths. Almost 800,000 Americans have a new heart attack each year, and 470,000 will have a repeat attack.

Study author Kivimaki agreed that people experiencing job strain would do well to address other more significant contributors to heart disease.

"High strain is associated with an elevated risk of developing heart disease, but this excess risk is probably smaller than previously thought," Kivimaki says. "For those with job strain, adopting a healthy lifestyle seems particularly important."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Stressed Men Prefer Heavier Women, Study Suggests

Hemera/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- Gentlemen may prefer blondes, but stressed men prefer heavier women -- at least according to a new study.

In the study, published Wednesday in the journal PLoS ONE, researchers at the University of Westminster in London subjected 41 men to a stress-inducing task.  After this task, the researchers asked the men to rate the attractiveness of female bodies ranging from emaciated to obese.

Compared to a control group of 40 men who did not undergo the stress task, the stressed men rated a significantly heavier female body size as the most attractive, and they rated heavier female bodies as more attractive in general.

"Our body size preferences are flexible and can be changed by environment and circumstance," explains Martin Tovee, one of the study's authors.  "We need to understand the factors shaping body preferences."

In this case, it appears that stress alters the classic stereotype that men prefer thin women in general.

Researchers not directly involved with the study said the finding is consistent with what past work has shown regarding the way stress influences our perceptions.

"Stress, both acute and chronic, has profound effect on how we process new information both cognitively and emotionally," explains Dr. Igor Galynker, associate chairman of the department of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Beth Israel Medical Center.

In fact, earlier research has shown that men also prefer heavier body sizes when resources are unpredictable or unavailable.  Certain evolutionary theories suggest this may be because when times are tough, a thin woman may be ill, have irregular periods, and may be unable to support pregnancy.

"If you live in an environment where food is scarce, being heavier means that you have fat stored up as a buffer and that you must be higher social status to afford the food in the first place," Tovee explains.  "Both of these are attractive qualities in a partner in those circumstances."

The study also found that the stressed men gave higher ratings to a wider range of female figures than did their unstressed counterparts.  This may have implications about how we choose the people to date and marry.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Less Lying, More Truth Telling Linked to Better Health

Photodisc/Thinkstock(NOTRE DAME, Ind.) -- It may seem like conventional wisdom, but telling the truth on a consistent basis can make you healthier, according to a new study by researchers at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana.
With recent evidence showing that Americans tell an average of 11 lies per week, psychology researchers at Notre Dame were curious about the benefits of living a more honest life. They found that the fewer fibs you tell, the better you sleep at night, and that lying less was also tied to better relationships.

Lead researcher Anita Kelly says that in the small study of just 110 people, ranging in age from 18-71, those who purposefully avoided lying for 10 weeks experienced fewer physical and emotional complaints.

"Feeling blue, feeling anxious, having trouble falling asleep and that sort of thing.  Those are the kinds of mental health complaints they were reporting having fewer of those when they lied less," Kelly said.

Interestingly, the researchers also noted the ways in which people attempted to avoid lying such as avoiding troubling questions by distracting with another questions. It turns out that lying by omission or avoidance and telling those "little white lies" can also take their toll if they cause stress, they found.

"So it was very clear that … that lying less was linked to better health for our participants," Kelly said.

This study was presented at the American Psychological Association meeting and has not been peer-reviewed.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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