Archive for November, 2011

High Anxiety, Little Sleep, Many Pills…

Americans in search of control

Julia Fullerton-Batten, NYT

We’ve become high-anxiety America – especially the half made up of women. In a “women and sleep” study, 80% of

women said they were just “too stressed or worried” to turn off the running monologue in their brains and go to sleep. (National Sleep Foundation)

“My brain is just going, going, going,” said one mother. “It’s so active I can’t slow it down.” (NYT)

SCAN findings show that all Americans – men and women – feel less in control of their lives than ever: only 48% say they “feel more in control” of their lives, down 7 points since 2007.

Meanwhile, we do believe that health and well-being is one area of life that is under our control: 66% of adults strongly agree that “my health is in my control; my behavior mainly determines how healthy I am.”

But not surprisingly, half of us believe it’s harder than ever to be healthy: “There are more obstacles to being healthy today than there were in the past.”  50% of adults strongly agree, up 10 points since just last year. (Women see the obstacles as even more daunting: 56% agree, up 13 points since last year.)

Enter the increasingly popular solution for taking charge of our well-being: pills. Melatonin, Xanax, Ambien, and a variety of antidepressants are the weapons of choice in the battle for some measure of control over anxiety and sleeplessness. According to the CDC, more than 10% of Americans take antidepressants – and that’s just the ones who acknowledge it.

But at least one nonprescription solution has become a long-term trend, steadily on the rise since 2000: simplification.

Now, 58% of adults say that “increasingly, I am taking action to simplify my life and focus only on what is really important to me.”

Watch for our culture to continue to be in search mode, seeking fixes – both prescription and otherwise – for the stress that shows no sign of abating any time soon.

Business Implications: Peace of mind has become more elusive and precious than ever. And it isn’t just pharmaceutical companies that can help consumers find it. Can your brand help Americans simplify? Or avoid risk? Get more control of something, anything?

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