- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 16, 2017

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

Stop hitting the recall button on your remote. Stop hitting the play button on online videos and music sites. Instead, hit your personal reset button.

A new report says we are all stressed out — buffeted by politics and public safety, national security and public education, the past and the future — and politics. Oh, and did I already mention politics?

You needn’t be D.C.-centric, a Trump opponent or a Trump supporter to get the points I’m about to make. So breathe. Inhale. Exhale.

The latest annual “Stress in America” survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), compiled by people who should know a thing or two about our anxiety levels, sends out warning signals: Americans are more stressed out today than a decade ago, when the first stress survey was released.

Why?

“The stress we’re seeing around political issues is deeply concerning, because it’s hard for Americans to get away from it,” said Katherine C. Nordal, PhD, APA’s executive director for professional practice. “We’re surrounded by conversations, news and social media that constantly remind us of the issues that are stressing us the most.”

That Americans these days gallop from rally to rally and protest to protest adds to the heightened coverage of our never-ending global news cycle.

So we should hit the pause button before hitting the reset button for our deep-breathing exercises.

The APA survey also noted the number of Americans saying personal safety is a “very” or “somewhat” significant source of stress increased from 29 percent to 34 percent, which is the highest percentage noted since the question was first asked in 2008. By comparison, stress over personal safety was at its lowest level in 2014 — 23 percent.

What else are we worried about? The future of America.

Two-thirds of APA survey respondents said they feel stressed about our nation’s future. The breakdown — 59 percent of Republicans worry about the days to come, compared to 76 percent of Democrats, which isn’t surprising since the Dems lost the White House.

That news and social media cycles are now 24/7/365 is a good thing. That some of us try to stay plugged into them 24/7/365 is not. Don’t tune us out (for selfish reasons, of course), but do take time to hit your own reset button occasionally.

I say that because another recent survey, this one by LifeWay Research, says the Roman Catholic observance of Lent doesn’t have solid crossover appeal (which reminds me of the frowns Beyonce received from traditionalists after her Country Music Awards performance).

According to Nashville-based LifeWay, 76 percent of Americans say they don’t typically observe Lent, which also lacks the broad appeal of other Christian traditions such as Christmas and Easter.

I mention Lent, which begins March 1, as a timely opportunity (spiritual or otherwise) to de-stress — to step away from binge-watching, chocolate jags, shade-throwing and hanging onto our smartphones as if we’d fall off the edge of the earth if we unplugged.

Here’s another bit of news regarding the APA: The second part of its survey will be released Feb. 23, and it will highlight how technology use affects stress among Americans.

Breathe. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat as necessary.

Deborah Simmons can be contacted at [email protected]

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