The Many Sources of Stress and the 14 Hassles of Daily Life

We live in a world with many sources of stress, with many things to do and to worry about. When shown a list of 14 different "hassles" which tend to be associated with stress, the hassles which are experienced by the largest numbers of people are related to money:

  • rising prices, 74% 
  • concerns about money for emergencies, 53% 
  • not having enough money for basic necessities, 36% 
Other hassels include having too many things to do (56%); having trouble sleeping (53%); concerns about health (43%); and the illness of a family member (36%). Several people say they experienced having too much information to process at any one time (33%), feeling lonely (29%) or problems at work (24%). And, of course, some people experience many more hassles, and experience much more stress than others.

These are some of the results of a nationwide survey of 2,747 adults surveyed online between September 7 and 13, 2006 by Harris Interactive - The Harris Poll.

The one group that stands out as having much less stress than all of the others is older adults - only 9%, aged 61 and older, report experiencing a lot of stress in their lives, compared to 25% or more of other generations. 

The survey finds very strong associations between almost all of the 14 hassles and feeling stressed. For example:

  • 80% of those who experience a lot of stress say that they have had too many things to do in the last month. This falls to only 29% of those who do not experience much stress.
  • 76% of those who experience a lot of stress say they had trouble sleeping compared to only 29% of those with little stress.
  • 71% of those who have a lot of stress say they experienced concerns about money for emergencies in the last month compared to only 30% among those whose lives are not much stressed.

Have you experienced the following in the past month?

September 2006

2000

2002

%

%

%

Rising prices

74

77

69

Too many things to do

56

57

62

Trouble sleeping

53

N/A

N/A

Concerns about money for emergencies

53

51

51

Concerns about health in general

43

48

47

Illness of a family member

36

42

37

Not enough money for basic necessities

36

33

35

Too much information to process at one time

33

N/A

N/A

Being lonely

29

18

15

Problems with your work, boss or fellow workers

24

22

20

Problems with aging parents

21

22

23

Frequent or excessive noise

20

17

18

Problems with my children

19

N/A

N/A

Abuse of your personal privacy

13

15

18

Average Score (see note 3)

35

34

33

Source: Harris Interactive - The Harris Poll.

Notes: 
1. The 2000 and 2002 surveys were conducted by telephone, while this survey was conducted online

2. The question asked in 2000 and 2002 was slightly different. "Please tell me if (read item) has affected you in the last month or not?"
3. Average score is based on the 12 items which were asked in all three surveys.

A recent survey published in The Journal of the American Medical Association compared the health status of comparable groups (middle-aged whites) in England and the United States and found that Americans were much more likely than their English counterparts to suffer from seven common diseases including diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and cancer. The research did not set out to explain these differences. However, one hypothesis is that Americans tend to experience more stress than the English. And, of course, a growing body of research has reported that increased stress is associated with higher incidence of a number of common diseases, including cardiovascular disease and cancer.

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