Introduction

New Yorkers* report stress at levels slightly higher than the national average, and more New Yorkers say that common issues like money, work and the economy are causing them stress. At the same time, the number of New Yorkers who say their health is good or excellent is on the decline, and it appears that a lack of time is a barrier to making healthy lifestyle changes for more New Yorkers this year.


* This report focuses only on the views of residents within the New York City Metropolitan Statistical Area (2008 n= 228; 2009 n=208; 2010 n=212; 2011 n=243; 2012 n=200) and the general population (2008 n=1791; 2009 n=1568; 2010 n=1134; 2011 n=1226; 2012 n=2020).
Perceptions of stress and its sources

Sources of StressThe Stress in America™ survey also shows that people in New York struggle with stress management and are not getting as much support from health care providers to help manage their stress as others across the country. New Yorkers report common sources of stress more frequently than the rest of the country. Though similar numbers of New Yorkers as adults nationwide say that their stress is increasing, New Yorkers report an average stress level that surpasses the national average.

New Yorkers report an average stress level of 5.2 on a 10-point scale where 1 is “little or no stress” and 10 is a “great deal of stress.” Comparatively, this is higher than the level of stress they define as healthy: 4.0. What’s more, 22 percent of New Yorkers report experiencing extreme stress (an 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale) and 35 percent report that their stress increased in the past year.

Several commonly reported sources of stress such as money, work and the economy are cited more frequently as stressors by New Yorkers than Americans overall (money: 78 percent vs. 69 percent; work: 78 percent vs. 65 percent; economy: 71 percent vs. 61 percent). In addition, more New Yorkers report stress related to health concerns, specifically health problems affecting their families (62 percent vs. 52 percent) and personal health issues (66 percent vs. 51 percent).

Managing stress

When it comes to stress management, it appears that New Yorkers are struggling. They are more likely than adults nationwide to say they are not doing enough to manage stress and they are less likely to say they are doing an excellent or very good job at managing stress.

Slightly more New Yorkers this year say that managing stress is extremely or very important (69 percent in 2012 vs. 67 percent in 2011), but the number who say they are doing an excellent or very good job at it has dropped (32 percent in 2012 vs. 40 percent in 2011).

In addition, New York City residents are significantly more likely than adults nationwide to say that they feel they are not doing enough to manage stress (27 percent vs. 19 percent).

In the past five years, 57 percent of New Yorkers report having tried to reduce their stress, but of those who tried to make a change, only 39 percent report having been successful at lowering stress levels.

The most commonly reported stress management techniques for people living in New York City include listening to music (53 percent), exercising or walking (51 percent) and reading (40 percent).

Just as adults in New York City are as likely as the rest of the country to think that psychologists can help a great deal or a lot with stress management (47 percent for both), they are referred to see mental health professionals at similar rates (12 percent for both).

Stress and well-being

Since 2011, fewer New Yorkers say that they are in good health. Additionally, they report similar chronic conditions as all Americans, including high blood pressure and cholesterol. Many New Yorkers have tried to eat healthy, but they are less likely to have tried exercising, losing weight and getting more sleep. They are also less likely than American adults overall to believe that stress impacts their own physical and mental health.

Less than half of New Yorkers say their health is excellent or very good, which dropped since last year (42 percent in 2012 vs. 49 percent in 2011).

Similar to other Americans, New Yorkers struggle to achieve healthy lifestyles. In the past month, 45 percent say they have lain awake at night, 34 percent say they have overeaten or eaten unhealthy foods, and 30 percent report having skipped meals due to stress.

Despite the importance New York residents place on various aspects of well-being, they appear to struggle to meet healthy living goals, like others across the country:

  • Sixty-seven percent say getting enough sleep is extremely or very important, yet just 31 percent say they are doing an excellent or very good job at it.
  • Sixty-one percent say that eating healthy is extremely or very important, yet just 40 percent say they are doing an excellent or very good job.
  • Sixty percent say being physically active or fit is extremely or very important, yet just 37 percent say they are doing an excellent or very good job.
Health, lifestyle and behavior change

Lack of time is New Yorkers’ most commonly reported challenge when it comes to making lifestyle or behavior changes. Like others across the country, a lack of willpower also continues to be a barrier to change, though for fewer New Yorkers this year.

Barriers to Change: New York TrendNot having enough time is a barrier for 27 percent of New Yorkers who have decided to or were recommended to make a change. The number reporting this as a challenge has increased steadily since 2010 (15 percent in 2010; 24 percent in 2011).

An opposite trend is occurring with willpower, however. Just 20 percent of New Yorkers who have decided to or were recommended to make a change say they that a lack of willpower is a barrier, down from 32 percent in 2011.

While similar numbers of New Yorkers as Americans overall give their health care a high grade, the same is not true when asked about the support they get for stress or behavior management from their health care provider.

Thirty-six percent of New Yorkers give their physical health care an “A” grade, while 31 percent grade their mental health care the same.

While New Yorkers appear to believe that the potential for support from health care providers for stress and behavior management exists, few say they get a great deal or a lot of support for specific lifestyle and behavior issues.

  • Similar percentages of New Yorkers and people nationwide say their health care providers can help them a great deal or a lot with stress management (25 percent vs. 24 percent nationally), depression or anxiety (31 percent vs. 35 percent nationally), poor eating habits (26 percent vs. 23 percent nationally) and lack of sleep (23 percent vs. 24 percent nationally).
  • New Yorkers are less likely than Americans overall to believe that their relationship with their health care provider supports them a great deal or a lot in managing their stress (17 percent vs. 22 percent) and making healthy lifestyle changes (22 percent vs. 29 percent).