Why is it so stressful to live in America in comparison to other countries? And what is the cure?
Living in the U.S. is probably more stressful than living in some countries and less stressful than others.
It’s probably much more stressful to live in a place filled with poverty, crime and disease or war. It’s pretty hard to quantify the stress of things like poverty, but one survey that tried to do that found that the most stressed countries were poor and developing countries, and the U.S. was ranked 54th out of 74 countries in terms of stress level
The key reason is that people in the U.S. tried to fit in a lot in, in order to have full lives.
One survey shows that affluent respondents in highly-stressed
countries spend more time engaged in activities — housework, leisure
activities, and working — than do their counterparts in low-stressed markets.”The choices and opportunities we associate with a full life may also create feelings of pressure,”
Some people may think that stress is bad. However, sometimes people would rather be stressed and have more choices in life. For example…
The surprising thing is that women in countries like China and Japan were less stressed than American women. The primary cause of stress in countries with the highest numbers of women under pressure? Having to juggle traditional roles and responsibilities with a modern career.
Now you might think the U.S. is really stressful because people work long hours there, but people actually work much longer hours in other countries.
In terms of the number of hours actually worked annually, the U.S. ranks only a smidgen above the O.E.C.D. average (2008 figures) and in any case below the Islanders, the Israelis, the Italians, the Greeks, not to mention most Eastern Europeans, the Japanese and the drones of the world, the South Koreans
You might think long hours or lack of job security are the biggest sources of job-related stress, but that’s not true. The largest job-related stress comes from simply not having enough time do everything you need to do.
So, people in the U.S. might have interesting, demanding jobs and they might choose those jobs in spite of the stress because they might be great, interesting jobs.
Beyond that European women do more housework than Americans women do, so the number of hours they work is understated.
Figures from time diary studies in the 1990s reveal that European women worked almost 10 hours more doing housework than their American counterparts, who spent most of that time in formal work. American families relied instead on paid labor and services to accomplish the domestic tasks that wives still perform in Europe.
Many women may prefer to find jobs they love than do housework and accept the stress that comes with that tradeoff.
It’s true that Americans may be less stressed if they didn’t try to do so much, didn’t try to achieve so much in work, and didn’t try to have so many experiences. It’s true that in some other countries people don’t try to do as much. The link between stress and happiness is complicated though
In other words, affluent people in the U.S. may be willing to accept a higher stress level in order to have a fuller life and that may not necessarily be bad.
Stress also likely varies by gender and other demographic factors.
A recent study on women in 21 different countries showed that women are definitely feeling the pressure—anywhere between 44 and 87 percent report being chronically stressed out, depending on the country. India was number one for stressed out women, followed by Mexico and Russia. The U.S. ranked 11th on the list.