Stress in Seattle

Seattle adults* report declining stress levels and have been doing so steadily since 2008. Adults in Seattle cite less concern about job stability than Americans overall and, consistent with their reported lower stress levels, they report fewer physical and emotional symptoms of stress now than in previous years. However, an increasing number of Seattle residents have reported that they have been diagnosed with high blood pressure or high cholesterol.

Less Stress in Seattle

Adults in Seattle say they’ve been feeling less and less stressed over the past several years.

  • For the first time since 2008, more adults report having “little or no” stress (31 percent report a stress level of 1, 2 or 3 on a 10-point scale) than a “great deal” of stress (20 percent report a stress level of 8, 9 or 10 on a 10-point scale). In 2008, 12 percent of Seattle residents reported having “little or no” stress and in 2009, 30 percent reported low stress levels.

  • The average reported stress level in Seattle has declined significantly since 2008. Seattle residents reported an average stress level of 5.1 (on a 10-point scale) in 2010, down from 5.4 in 2009 and 6.1 in 2008.

  • Seattle residents are more likely than Americans overall to say their stress levels have decreased over the past five years (41 percent vs. 25 percent).

  • The majority of Seattle residents (62 percent) report they feel they are doing enough to manage their stress. The proportion of those who say they are not doing enough dropped significantly from last year, from 26 percent to 18 percent.

  • In keeping with this trend, Seattle residents also report fewer physical and emotional symptoms of stress in the last month. Over the past two years, they are less likely to cite that they experienced irritability or anger (60 percent in 2008, 52 percent in 2009 and 42 percent in 2010), headaches (52 percent in 2008, 39 percent last year and 30 percent now) or a lack of motivation (59 percent in 2008, 49 percent last year and 40 percent in 2010) as a result of stress.

Stress Related to Work

  • Although more than four in 10 employed Seattle residents (42 percent in 2009 and 2010) still say they feel stressed during the workday, Seattle workers are less likely than Americans overall to report job stability as a source of stress (39 percent vs. 49 percent).

  • Workers in Seattle are more likely than Americans overall to say they are satisfied with their employer’s health and safety initiatives (51 percent vs. 38 percent).

Stress and Health

Seattle residents report that they’re healthier than ever. And, in fact, many say they are engaging in healthy behaviors that support these personal health assessments. However, barriers to healthy living remain, and it’s clear Seattle residents — more of whom reported being diagnosed with high blood pressure this year and who report depression in greater numbers than Americans overall, despite other health gains — still have room for improvement.

  • The proportion of Seattle residents reporting they are in excellent or very good health has risen since last year (44 percent vs. 37 percent). More Seattle residents than Americans overall report that their health is excellent or very good (44 percent vs. 40 percent).

  • Seattle residents are more likely than Americans overall to report eating healthy foods always or almost always (34 percent vs. 24 percent).

  • People living in Seattle say they are more likely than Americans overall to exercise or walk to relieve stress (66 percent vs. 48 percent).

  • Seattle residents are more likely than Americans overall to say they exercise because it gives them energy (60 percent vs. 47 percent).

  • Regardless of their likelihood to report that they are in good health and engage in healthy behaviors, Seattle residents report gaps between the importance they place on some behaviors associated with well-being and their ability to succeed in these areas. The biggest gaps between importance and achievement were for managing stress (63 percent say it is extremely/very important vs. 33 percent who say they are doing an excellent/very good job of achieving it) and getting enough sleep (65 percent say it is extremely/very important vs. 37 percent who say they are doing an excellent/very good job of achieving it).

  • Despite their self-reported lower stress levels, a far greater proportion of Seattle residents report having been diagnosed with high blood pressure this year than last (26 percent in 2009 to 36 percent in 2010) and they report being diagnosed with depression at rates that are higher than Americans overall (23 percent vs. 14 percent).

  • Of those who have had a health care provider recommend lifestyle and behavior changes, nearly three in 10 Seattle residents (29 percent) cite willpower as a barrier that prevents them from making the changes. They are more likely than Americans overall to report that having more time would help them overcome their lack of willpower (54 percent vs. 34 percent).

Take a Coffee Break

When asked how often they take coffee breaks to reduce stress, three in 10 Seattle residents say they take coffee breaks at least once a week to help manage stress.

*This section of the report focuses only on the views of residents within the Seattle MSA (2008 n=259; 2009 n=200; 2010 n=214) and the general population (2008 n=1,791; 2009 n=1,568; 2010 n=1,134).