The level of stress in the lives of Americans doesn't seem to be diminishing, and has likely increased since the early 1980s, according to a recent Carnegie Mellon University study.
Phone survey data collected on Americans over the age of 18 in 1983, as well as data from two similar online surveys in 2006 and 2009, showed 18 percent higher stress levels reported by women, and a 24 percent increase for men over the 26-year study period.
The three surveys of a total of 6,300 people were analyzed by researchers Sheldon Cohen and Denise Janicki-Deverts from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh.
SAM SHAWVER The Marietta Times
Parents Rich and Angie Puskarich of Parkersburg de-stress as they take a bike ride at East Muskingum Park in Marietta Sunday afternoon.
The results have been published in the Journal of Applied Social Psychology, and indicate that women, low-income individuals, and people with less eduction were the most stressed in all three surveys, according to the university website.
Brad Tamplin, 45, of Cincinnati said his stress level is definitely rising.
"I'm a science teacher of fifth- and sixth-graders, which is a new career for me," he said. "I'm also working on a master's degree."
Tamplin said constant deadlines, and clock-watching add to the stress in his life.
"Time can be the enemy," he said.
Exercise helps, Tamplin said, noting that he has a treadmill and weight equipment at home.
"And I love to hike during warm weather-it can be a real stress reliever," he said. "I also try to maintain a routine quiet time every morning."
His wife, Carla, 48, an occupational therapist assistant, said Brad probably carries the most stress at this point in their lives.
"But we try to set aside date nights to get away every Friday," she said. "It's a time we have to guard-a time to reconnect, which helps relieve the stress."
Minta Ann Schlotterbeck, 93, of Marietta, has lived through some stressful times.
"I was a child during the Great Depression years, but I don't remember the hardships because my father saw to it that we always had enough to live," she said.
Schlotterbeck could not recall a time of her life when she felt stressed out, crediting that to a good marriage with her late husband.
"He always treated me with respect," she said. "I think if people would first respect themselves, and then respect others, there would be a lot less stress in the world."
The Carnegie Mellon researchers found that stress lowers with age, and retirees consistently reported lower levels of stress.
Local businessman Mike Iaderosa, 58, of Marietta agreed.
"I think there's less stress in my life now than there was 10 or 15 years ago," he said. "There's a lot more going on in the business, but as I get older it seems to create less stress. When we're younger I think some of our stress is self-imposed."
Iaderosa's wife, Joyce, 53, said the type of stresses people encounter change over time.
"I think the stress is just different now," she said. "There are working environment and family changes over the years, so our types of stress change, too."
The Iaderosas were relaxing by hitting a few golf balls on the Marietta Country Club's driving range Sunday afternoon.
"We like to play on Sunday and often walk through a course of nine holes," Mike said. "But we've also had a routine of running and walking for several years, which helps keep the stress levels down."
Rich Puskarich, 37, and his wife, Angie, 39, from Parkersburg, were preparing to take a bike ride in East Muskingum Park Sunday.
Parents of two children, ages 3 and 8 months, the couple were enjoying some time away, thanks to some babysitting grandparents.
"I think a lot of stress comes from trying to balance work and home time-it can be a challenge," said Rich, an IT worker with DuPont.
"I go to the YMCA for an hour a couple times a week, that helps to unwind after work," he said.
But as a stay at home mom, Angie faces her own kinds of stress.
"A lot of my stress comes from keeping us all going," she said. "And that's not easy when you have two little ones who don't always want to cooperate. It takes a lot of coordination."
Angie said the grandparents and other family members help out, and she belongs to a couple of local moms groups who are always willing to share child-rearing tips.
"We also try to get away as a couple-although we're not always successful," she said. "And this is the first time I've been able to ride my bike in a few years."