By Melissa Rivera
Almost two-thirds of Americans say uncertainty about the country’s future is causing them stress, according to the American Psychological Association’s yearly report, “Stress in America: The State of Our Nation.”
It’s understandable. By the end of September, the nation had already seen 15 natural disasters costing $1 billion or more. And neither the latest California wildfires or the Christmas winter storm were yet included in 2017’s count. According to USA Today, 2017 was also the deadliest year for mass killings since the news organization began tracking them in 2006. Money was the second-highest stressor, according to the APA. Four out of five Americans are in debt, according to data from LendingTree.
“When things go as planned, we feel in control. But when life throws a curve ball, it can leave us feeling anxious and stressed,” the APA said.
What can you do to reduce next year’s stress? Set some goals.
“If the person is involved in a goal-oriented activity, it’s a source of resilience. It can buffer the effects of extreme stress,” Shmuel Lissek, a professor at the University of Minnesota who studies what happens in the brain during fear, told CNN.
Maybe make a goal to be financially prepared.
More than a quarter of Americans don’t have a plan to get out of debt. If you don’t, make a goal to make a debt-reduction plan. This story in USA Today has some ideas for how to do so.
Or, make a goal to make and stick to a budget. A 2013 Gallup poll found just 30 percent of middle-class households kept a detailed monthly budget, according to The Motley Fool. If you need help getting started, just do an online search for budget apps..
Make a resolution to save. More than two-thirds of Americans had less than $1,000 in savings, according to a 2016 survey from GoBankingRates.com. Financial planners recommend you have at least that much in short-term savings.
Do you have an emergency kit that you can grab and go? If not, make a resolution to get or make one. The blog at beprepared.com can give you many tips. If you’ve already got one, make a goal to update it, or increase it until you have enough for two weeks.
Make a goal to be prepared in case of a water shortage. Wildfires, like those that burned all over the country in 2017, can degrade an area’s water quality for months.
Make a goal to change your smoke and carbon monoxide alarm batteries at least once in 2018.
If you don’t already have a family evacuation plan, make a resolution to make one.
Finally, the APA recommends that when things are comparatively calm, learn a new skill.
“Taking risks helps you develop confidence and skills that come in handy when life veers off course,” the APA said.
Make a goal that, sometime this year, you’ll learn a new skill. Consider something you can use in emergencies, like sewing. You can use such a skill to help other people, too, like sewing children’s surgical caps.
If you, like most people, struggle to keep resolutions, the APA has some suggestions.
Happy New Year, and may 2018 be less stressful, whatever happens, than 2017.