Average American feels their best just 15 days each month

Over the last year, Americans have lost 26 hours with loved ones, missed eight social events and canceled nine dates due to not feeling their best. A survey of 2,000 adults split evenly by generation reveals that the average American is only on their “A game” or feeling their best about 15 days each month, or six months out of the year.

What’s holding them back? According to the survey, the top three reasons Americans tend to feel badly are not getting enough sleep (43%), stress (43%) and being sick (22%). Almost three in five (57%) Gen Xers are likely to be brought down by stress, more than any other generation.

➡️ Who’s Who In America, By Generation

  • The Silent Generation: Born 1928-1945
  • Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964
  • Generation X: Born 1965-1980
  • Millennials (or Generation Y): Born 1981-1996
  • Generation Z: Born 1997-2012 (Note: As of 2024, the oldest members of Generation Z are adults, while the younger ones are still reaching adulthood)
  • Generation Alpha: Born 2013 onwards

Employed respondents (62%) estimate that they’ve missed four days of work and spent another four whole days in bed over the last year simply due to being sick. In that same timeframe, the average respondent lost an average of $361.90 by way of either missing work, going to the doctor or purchasing medications.

Interestingly, millennials forked over the most — $507.90 — on those expenses, nearly three times what baby boomers spent ($185.90).

But that isn’t what’s keeping Americans up at night — 46 percent admit that they’re more concerned about missing out on experiences with loved ones than their job.

Infographic on survey about Americans feeling bad.
(Credit: SWNS)

When We Feel Good

Conducted by OnePoll on behalf of Mucinex, the survey also looks at Americans’ habits when they are feeling at their best. That list includes spending time with family (42%), cleaning (27%), reading (26%), and hanging out with friends or their pets (26%) in the evenings.

Millennials are the most likely generation to spend their healthy hours getting creative (24%), while baby boomers are most likely to go out to eat (32%).

If more hours in a day were readily available, many respondents would double down on socializing by visiting family and friends (25%), volunteering (9%) and even dating (9%). Spending time with family and friends is especially important to Gen X (30%) and baby boomers (33%), while 15 percent of millennials would look for love.

On the flip side, respondents would also enjoy their peace and quiet and indulge in “me time” (27%), take a nap (25%), learn a new skill (16%) and catch up on work (16%).

But if given the choice, Americans are more likely to opt for some R&R if an extra 12 hours were added to their day, rather than do something productive (47% vs 39%). 

And though they may not be considered the hardest working generation by many, Gen Zers are the only age group that’s more likely to be productive with their additional 12 hours than they are to rest and relax (48% vs 38%).

“These days, our schedules are busier than ever, and time is a precious commodity,” says spokesperson Jeffrey Kozlowski, Brand Manager on Mucinex 12-Hour, in a statement. “Wouldn’t it be great if we could seize every moment and make the most of our days from sunrise to sunset? During cold and flu season especially, it’s so important to take good care of ourselves so we can spend our time doing what we love – not suffering from a cough or cold.” 

Productivity In The USA

The average American feels productive only about seven hours each day, though 13 percent of baby boomers are in their groove between 11 and 12 hours a day.  

Results also reveal that three in five (60%) respondents agree that even when they are healthy, there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything they want done. This may be why half tend to try and carry on as usual when they’re sick.

Respondents also react to being sick by immediately reaching for over-the-counter medications (38%), drop everything and go back to bed (26%) or call up their doctor (17%).

Millennials, on the other hand, are most likely to head straight to the doctor (28%) or expect their partner to give them the prince/princess treatment (28%).

But at the end of the day, 70 percent of Americans agree that it’s difficult to make up for lost time when you’re sick. 

“Everyone responds differently to being sick, but it’s a universal feeling to want to get back to feeling like yourself again, doing what you love — and with the people you love. This is why finding long lasting relief is key for allowing you to make the most of your day,” says Kozlowski. 

Survey methodology:

This random double-opt-in survey of 2,000 Americans split evenly by generation (500 Gen Z, 500 millennials, 500 Gen X and 500 baby boomers) was commissioned by Mucinex between Dec. 1 and Dec. 5, 2023. It was conducted by market research company OnePoll, whose team members are members of the Market Research Society and have corporate membership to the American Association for Public Opinion Research (AAPOR) and the European Society for Opinion and Marketing Research (ESOMAR).

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