Many Americans Fall into the "Highly Stressed" Category — Can You Guess How They Handle It?

Many Americans Fall into the "Highly Stressed" Category — Can You Guess How They Handle It?

Work, family, and school can drive people insane.

By Marianne Garvey

Stress is more than just an uneasy feeling in the pit of your stomach.

Headaches, irritability, depression, muscle tension, chest pain, and sleep issues can often be traced back to stress. In fact, one study says between 75 and 90 percent of doctor visits are due to stress-related health concerns. And 24 percent of Americans fell into the “highly stressed” category.

Stress is often caused by home, work and school. It can also stem from personal relationships, self-esteem issues, or financial duress. (Basically ... life.)

So how do people cope?

The study asked 1,000 people to talk about their stress management strategies.

Entertainment was the one thing they turned to almost universally at every age. TV and music were found to be forms of therapy, while others listed “relaxation” as their main form of stress relief.

Women were more likely to indulge in relaxation than men (75 percent vs. 67 percent). Taking a moment to decompress during a hot shower, for example, has been known to yield a surprising number of health benefits. Women also preferred tackling chores (64 percent vs. 42 percent of men) at a significantly higher rate.

Men, on the other hand, tended toward higher-octane stress-coping strategies. They were much more likely to turn to exercise and sex (77 percent vs. 65 percent of women) and substances (60 percent vs. 50 percent of women).

When it came to their substances of choice to handle stress, people’s coping habits varied wildly from coast to coast. People in the West were the most likely to turn to marijuana at nearly 61 percent. The Northeast reported marijuana use as a coping method at almost 45 percent.

Alcohol and cigarettes were the most prevalent in the Midwest, at roughly 31 and 29 percent, respectively — meanwhile, this region was the least likely to use prescription drugs to combat stress. It was the South that led the pack for prescription drug consumption, with 14 percent of residents reporting having used these substances to take the edge off their stresses.

Therapy was a fix for 11 percent of respondents.

For all, watching TV and exercising were people’s most frequently used soothing habits. Those worried about family, friends, and school reached for the remote control, while work, money, and romantic life had people heading to the gym.

Hobbies like video games and meditation were next in line, followed by cleaning, TV, and unplugging from technology.

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