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Quiet Stress in the Pandemic

american addiction centers photo
October 26, 2020

Half of Americans say they have suffered from ‘quiet stress’ this year, reveals survey.

  • Over a quarter of adults say social distancing and loneliness has been their biggest stressor this year.
  • 19% say they are more likely to turn to alcohol to alleviate stress as compared to pre-pandemic times.
  • A third admit to suppressing their emotions and say these feelings emerge after they’ve been drinking.
  • 48% say the reason they would hide their feelings if suffering from stress is so not to worry family or friends.
  • Infographic included.

With a global pandemic still raging across America, resulting in separation from loved ones due to social distancing, as well as growing unemployment rates and economic uncertainty for many, it is perhaps no wonder there has been an increase in the need for mental health treatment. With disruptions to many Americans’ social lives, it may be difficult to reach out for help during this time, which can lead to people restraining their emotions and keeping them inside. This is often referred to as ‘quiet stress’ and while it may not sound serious, it can contribute to a range of different illnesses, such as addiction, lowered immunity and heart disease.

American Addiction Centers, a leading provider of substance addiction treatment resources, conducted a survey of 3,000 adults across the US, which found that almost half (48%) say they believe they have suffered from ‘quiet stress’ this year. More widely known symptoms of stress often include visible outbursts, shouting, swearing and anger. By comparison, ‘quiet stress’ can cause an individual to underreact and not speak up about how they feel. This can lead to a state of inertia, whereby even though we feel overwhelmed, we ignore important tasks and don’t act on certain situations that require change. Therefore, ‘quiet stress’ can result in a sense of emotional paralysis, which could leave us unable to emerge from negative situations.

View the table below to see the % of Americans who have suffered from ‘quiet stress’ this year.

State % who have suffered from quiet stress
Alabama
38
Alaska
25
Arizona
47
Arkansas
67
California
53
Colorado
45
Connecticut
57
Delaware
54
Florida
58
Georgia
35
Hawaii
75
Idaho
33
Illinois
38
Indiana
52
Iowa
60
Kansas
59
Kentucky
62
Louisiana
67
Maine
33
Maryland
26
Massachusetts
35
Michigan
53
Minnesota
60
Mississippi
43
Missouri
39
Montana
57
Nebraska
39
Nevada
53
New Hampshire
33
New Jersey
53
New Mexico
43
New York
44
North Carolina
46
North Dakota
57
Ohio
59
Oklahoma
48
Oregon
54
Pennsylvania
48
Rhode Island
47
South Carolina
39
South Dakota
50
Tennessee
46
Texas
52
Utah
50
Vermont
50
Virginia
48
Washington
32
West Virginia
20
Wisconsin
51
Wyoming
75

Based on a survey of 3,000 adults (18+) (Google Surveys; October 2020)

It appears that being isolated ranks high up as a stress trigger for many people, as over a quarter (28%) of respondents say the thing that has made them the most stressed this year is social distancing and loneliness. This was followed by personal finance (23%), being unable to see loved ones (20%), personal health (15%) and relationship issues (13%).

Although it is possible to learn to subdue your body’s stress responses, eventually these emotions will emerge and could manifest negatively in the form of a suppressed immune system, social withdrawal or unhealthy habits like excessive drinking. The survey also discovered that nearly 1 in 5 (19%) respondents admit they are more likely to turn to alcohol now to alleviate stress as compared to pre-pandemic times.

Additionally, 1 in 3 (33%) people who say they usually internalize their emotions within admit these feelings emerge after they have been drinking. Moreover, for many, the pandemic has resulted in heightened anxiety levels, as well isolation, loneliness and boredom that may be brought on my spending more time at home – all of which can become potential triggers for excessive drinking.

Finally, the survey revealed that nearly half (48%) of people say the reason they hide their feelings when suffering from stress is because they don’t want to worry friends or family. And nearly a quarter (23%) said the reason they hide their feelings is out of fear of appearing weak. Additionally, 17% said it’s because they want to avoid dealing with it, and 13% don’t believe it is an issue that needs to be discussed.

‘Compared to traditional symptoms brought on by stress, it can be difficult to diagnose those caused by ‘quiet stress’ as they may manifest in different ways. If you notice you are procrastinating on tackling important tasks, excessively drinking, more prone to getting colds or feeling ‘stuck’ in difficult situations, it could be worth evaluating whether you are internalizing your body’s responses to stress,’ says a spokesperson for American Addiction Centers. ‘If you feel overwhelmed at the thought of reaching out to a loved one about it, contact your local care clinic for help from a trained professional, such as a counsellor.’

 

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