A new study confirms what you many already suspect -- people are more stressed-out today than they were 25 years ago.
"The data suggest there's been an increase in stress over that time," said psychologist and lead author Sheldon Cohen, director of Carnegie Mellon's Laboratory for the Study of Stress, Immunity and Disease. The analysis is published online in the June issue of Journal of Applied Social Psychology.
In three separate studies done in 1983, 2006 and 2009, results find that women, people with lower incomes and those with less education experience the highest levels of stress. Men were more susceptible to stress during difficult financial periods.
But it's not all bad news: findings show that as you age, your stress decreases.
"Thirty-year-olds have less stress than 20-year-olds, and 40-year-olds have less stress than 30-year-olds," says Cohen, who has studied the relationship between stress and disease for 35 years. Retirees reported the lowest levels of stress.
All three surveys used Cohen's Perceived Stress Scale (PSS), which assesses the degree to which situations in life are perceived as stressful -- with each of the 6,300 survey respondents answering a series of questions designed to evaluate their stress levels. Higher scores indicate more stress.
Cohen's team also recently found that stress reduces the body's ability to regulate inflammation, which in turn bumps your chances of getting sick.
Medical resource WebMD recommends learning better ways to cope with stress, such as relying on a support system of friends or family. Be sure to get plenty of rest and regular exercise. Also eat well, don't smoke, and limit your alcohol consumption.