Stress by Gender

A stressful imbalance

The Stress in America™ survey continues to uncover interesting differences in the way women and men experience and manage stress.* While both genders report stress levels beyond what they consider healthy, women are more likely than men to say their already high stress levels are on the rise and they are less likely to believe they are doing a good job of managing their stress.

Average Stress LevelsWomen continue to report higher stress levels than men (5.3 vs. 4.6 on a 10-point scale where 1 is “little or no stress” and 10 is “a great deal of stress”). Both genders agree, however, that 3.6 is a healthy level of stress, pushing women nearly two points beyond the level of stress they believe to be healthy.

More women report experiencing extreme stress than men. Twenty-three percent of women report their stress level at an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale, compared to 16 percent of men.

What’s more, women are more likely than men to say their stress is on the rise. More women say their stress levels have increased in the past five years (43 percent vs. 33 percent of men) and in the past year alone (38 percent vs. 32 percent of men).

Men and women both turn to exercise (52 percent for both genders) and listening to music (48 percent for both genders) as their top stress management techniques. However, women are more likely to engage in social and sedentary activities to manage stress such as reading (50 percent vs. 29 percent), spending time with friends or family (43 percent vs. 34 percent) and shopping (18 percent vs. 6 percent). Women are also more likely than men to say they eat to manage stress (27 percent vs. 22 percent).

In fact, men increasingly report doing an excellent or very good job at managing stress (2010: 30 percent; 2011: 35 percent; 2012: 39 percent). While women acknowledge the importance of stress management, few feel they are doing a good job of it. Sixty-eight percent of women say managing stress is important to them, but only 34 percent say they are doing an excellent or very good job at it.

Top sources of stress are the same for men and women, including money (66 percent and 72 percent), work (64 percent and 66 percent) and the economy (60 percent and 62 percent).


 *This report focuses only on men (2007 n=771; 2008 n=789; 2009 n=729; 2010 n=530;2011 n=539; 2012 n=929) and women (2007 n=1077; 2008 n=1002; 2009 n=839; 2010 n=604;2011 n=687; 2012 n=1091) within the general population (2007 n=1848; 2008 n=1791; 2009 n=1568;2010 n=1134; 2011 n=1226; 2012 n=2020).
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