New survey reveals 61% of Americans say their stress levels are peaking despite looser restrictions from a year ago.
NEW YORK — The Omicron variant of COVID-19 is beginning its rapid spread throughout the U.S., adding more strain on a healthcare system already burdened by those diagnosed with the Delta variant. Still, the country continues its slow return to some level of pre-pandemic normalcy. That said, the stress and resulting physical effects are still present with more than half the population – who say events and gatherings stress them due to health concerns.
A survey of 2,000 Americans finds 59 percent are hesitant about social interactions in general in the post-pandemic world because of stress. Nearly three-quarters (73%) fear this could affect seeing family and friends during the holidays. However, even before the pandemic, people were prone to breaking off social engagements due to things like social anxiety (41%), illness (34%), back or joint pain (33%), and potential heartburn (32%).
Commissioned by Nexium 24HR and conducted by OnePoll, the study reveals a connection between the mental toll of the pandemic and the physical effects resulting from that stress.
Sixty-one percent of respondents feel their stress is now at its highest level after enduring 2020. In fact, 64 percent went so far to say the uncertainty around COVID-19 variants and rising case numbers is so stressful that it is heartburn-inducing.
Nearly three in five (58%) add their stress-management skills have worsened since the onset of the pandemic and 60 percent of those who turn to comfort food when experiencing stress recognize the negative impact of their poor dietary choices.
Sixty-three percent also worry about the world’s return to normalcy, citing COVID health concerns (61%) and potential new variants (60%) as top stress factors. Thirty-seven percent also cite the return of physical discomforts, like heartburn, are another cause for worry. For those who experience heartburn, 39 percent say high stress levels exacerbate their heartburn symptoms, affecting many areas of their life, including sleep (48%), eating habits (44%), productivity (39%), and mood (37%).
“The cyclical relationship between stress, food intake and heartburn can wreak havoc on many areas of overall wellbeing,” explains internal medicine expert and Nexium 24HR spokesperson, Dr. Clenton Coleman MD, in a statement. “With the increased strain caused by the pandemic, it’s extra important to be proactive in addressing health issues, like heartburn, getting good nutrition, and managing stress levels so that you’re not held back from living your life to the fullest.”
Results also show that health-related anxiety has prevented 54 percent from participating in activities or attending events. Another 56 percent say it prevents them from eating a meal at a social event, a staple at practically every gathering.
Nearly half of Americans say heartburn keeps them from best life
Over half the poll (54%) bring items with them to social events in order to combat social pressure. Of them, respondents say bringing their own beverages (57%), foods (57%), and chairs (39%) to functions are essential to stave off aches, pains, and heartburn.
Seven in 10 of those who suffer from heartburn note it forces them to give up things they love, preventing enjoyment of some of their most treasured activities, like eating their favorite meal (42%), attending social gatherings (36%), and traveling (35%).
Forty-six percent add heartburn prevents them from living their life to the fullest.
“With so much uncertainty in the world right now, it’s safe to assume that the anxiety exacerbating symptoms of heartburn is not likely to go away any time soon,” Dr. Coleman adds.
“The ability to enjoy the company of others at any given moment shouldn’t be interfered with by momentary physical discomfort such as heartburn. Rather than enduring through it, being proactive in addressing the physical symptoms, particularly for those suffering from frequent heartburn, should be a priority and is key to getting back to the simple joys in life.”