Stress during the pandemic has made basic decision-making for millennials harder, survey shows

·3 min read

Stress can be a debilitating feeling, affecting everyday life. And the COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the percentage of Americans who are struggling to complete simple tasks, a new study shows.

The American Psychological Association’s “Stress in America” survey found that 32% of adults sometimes are so stressed they struggle to make basic decisions, such as what to wear or what to eat. The survey, conducted by Harris Poll, also found that millennials saw the highest percentage of such stress, at 48%.

“What seems probably counterintuitive to some is that while the average stress levels stayed the same compared to last year, what we’re seeing is that, that continued level of stress is starting to take its toll on people,” Vaile Wright, a clinical psychologist and the senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association, told USA TODAY.

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The survey found that millennials, parents and people of color had the highest stress levels compared with older generations like Gen-Xers and baby boomers, which were at 32% and 14%, respectfully.

Generation Z, defined as those ages 18 to 24, reported struggling to complete daily tasks at 37%, coming in second behind millennials, which the survey defined as those ages 25 to 42. Other adults in the survey, ages 76 and older, saw only 3% of people struggling.

The pandemic-related stressors affected Hispanic and Black adults more than white adults, with Hispanic adults reporting the highest levels of stress at 44%. The survey also shows Hispanics were more likely than non-Hispanic white adults to know someone who had been sick or died from COVID-19.

“Hispanic adults are more likely to be working in these front-line essential kinds of jobs where part of why they know somebody who has caught COVID or died is because they had to expose themselves to more dangerous situations to continue to put food on the table and care for their families,” Wright said.

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Besides everyday tasks, the survey, which was done in August with 3,035 adults, also found that the pandemic is affecting people’s ability to make bigger decisions. Sixty-one percent of respondents said the pandemic made them rethink the way they were living life, and 49% said it made planning for the future feel impossible.

Overall, 74% of those surveyed said stress had affected them in some way over the past month, whether that be headaches or feeling overwhelmed. That stress resulted in 24% of respondents avoiding social situations, 23% altering eating habits and 22% procrastinating in their responsibilities.

Wright says high levels of uncertainty will continue to keep the stress levels high. However, she thinks the survey also shows there are high levels of optimism about the future – the survey shows 70% reported feeling confident that things will work out after the pandemic ends.

“I think reflecting on that and reminding ourselves that as individuals and as a nation, we’ve overcome adversity before, so we can do it again,” Wright said.

Follow Keira Wingate on Twitter: @KeiraRenee

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: COVID pandemic stress makes simple decision making harder: survey

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