Who’s Feeling Stressed from COVID-19?

ClosedBelieve it or not, we are still in the early days of coping with the pandemic of COVID-19. Yes, if you live in New York City or Italy or China, you might think you’re well into it. But the truth is that the effect of this biological disaster will come in waves. It’s going to re-order our lives for some time. So we’re intrigued to see survey research from the Pew Research Center giving us a glimpse of who’s feeling stressed from COVID-19.

Different Experiences for Different People

We’re not surprised that people are feeling stressed in different ways, to different degrees. A little less than half of American adults – 44 percent – said this pandemic has changed their lives in a major way. Of course, this is a moving target. These are results of polling done from March 19 to 24.

Women feel it more than men (47 vs 41 percent). That’s not entirely surprising because women tend to be more health-conscious in many ways. Surprisingly, Black Americans feel it less than either Whites or Hispanics. Only 34 percent say it’s had a major impact. They were more than twice as likely to say things have stayed about the same for them.

Higher income people are feeling it more than lower income by a margin of 15 percentage points. Likewise, more education translates into feeling more impact. But age doesn’t make much difference. Young or old, people of different ages all are about equally likely to feel a big impact. Finally, political orientation seems to make a difference. Our Republican president played down the significance of this pandemic for weeks. So we’re not surprised to learn that Republicans are less likely to it’s a big deal. However, we must note that the virus cares nothing about politics. How we feel about our politics has no effect on whether or not we’ll be infected.

Parties Are Out, Food Is In

One thing everyone seems to understand is that crowded parties are a bad idea. Ninety-one percent of respondents are uncomfortable with attending one. Thank goodness.

But getting food is another matter. Roughly 60 percent are comfortable with going out to the grocery store. About one in five are getting food delivered, and these tend to be younger people.

Researchers from the University of Tennessee say they see signs that stress eating and less physical activity could be an issue for many people. In their ongoing survey, two-thirds of respondents say they’re eating more than usual in response to the stress they’re feeling. More than 80 percent say they’re eating more because they’re bored. And 60 percent say that they’re sitting more.

Disruption and Stress

The stress of this disruption is only beginning. Maybe some normalcy will return in June. But the economic disruption is something that we’re only starting to feel. And as we’ve mentioned, the disruption in our routines is a big deal.

So coping strategies are paramount. We can find ways to be active, even if the gym is closed. Embracing a new definition of what’s normal will help. Look for support from friends and loved ones and give as much as you get. In this way, we can find a way to cope with the new order of things.

Click here for the report from Pew. Here you can find results from the University of Tennessee and here is a bit of background. For more on getting things done in a new routine, we found this article to be helpful.

Crossing, photograph © Alex Naanou / flickr

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April 2, 2020

3 Responses to “Who’s Feeling Stressed from COVID-19?”

  1. April 02, 2020 at 1:58 pm, Valerie Lawrence said:

    “But getting food is another matter. Roughly 60 percent are comfortable with going out to the grocery store.”

    No, not “comfortable,” not at all. But I do it, sparingly, as infrequently as possible, because I need to, and take every safeguard I know of to try to stay safe and keep others safe, including confronting others who are crowding my space (this is VERY uncharacteristic of me!) and washing my hands when I get home. (Just to be clear, in my case, “need” does NOT include “I’ll just run to the grocery because I’m missing one ingredient for this recipe I’d like to try.”)

    This seems to imply that no one should go out to get groceries. What are the alternatives?

    • April 02, 2020 at 4:16 pm, Ted said:

      Good point, Valerie. Thank you.

      You are absolutely correct. No judgement implied here. I don’t feel comfortable with going to the grocery store either, so I do it on a much more limited basis than I once did. Some people, especially younger people, do not. They have groceries delivered instead. But the question in this survey was, quite literally, “would you feel comfortable or uncomfortable with going out to the grocery store?” Not, “do you go out to the grocery store?”

      So you and I would answer “uncomfortable” and yet we must.

  2. April 02, 2020 at 5:23 pm, Valerie Lawrence said:

    Ah, got it. Yes, it matters a lot how a question is phrased! Thank you, and stay safe :^)