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World’s stress at record levels: Gallup

Capri Isidoro, Charlotte Isidoro
Capri Isidoro, of Ellicott City, Md., looks at her one-month-old baby Charlotte, Monday, May 23, 2022, in Columbia, Md., during a lactation consultation. Charlotte was delivered via emergency c-section and given formula by hospital staff. Isidoro has been having trouble with breastfeeding and has been searching for a formula that her daughter can tolerate well. “If all things were equal I would feed her with formula and breastmilk,” says Isidoro, “but the formula shortage is so scary. I worry I won’t be able to feed my child.” (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

Record numbers of people around the world reported experiencing stress and worry last year, according to a new report by Gallup.

The survey giant’s annual Global Emotions report shows record percentages of respondents globally experiencing a lot of stress (41 percent) and worry (42 percent). 

Gallup’s Negative Experience Index, which polls people on five separate negative experiences and then creates an index for the results, was at its highest yet in 2021 at 33. The index has been slowly trending upward, only taking two dips downward since 2006.

By comparison, Gallup’s Positive Experience Index, which operates similarly to its Negative Experience Index but polls people instead on positive experiences and indexes them, also dropped from 71 in 2020 to 69 in 2021. 

Though the Positive Experience Index for 2021 is not the lowest recorded by Gallup — 68 is the lowest that Gallup has recorded for the index — the decrease between the years demonstrates that the second year of the COVID-19 pandemic appeared to take a more negative toll than the first year.

Gallup noted, however, that the poll did find several silver linings: For example, the percentage of respondents worldwide reporting anger in 2021 as compared to 2020 dropped by 1 percentage point.

Additionally, slightly more people reported learning something interesting and said they started laughing and smiling again.

The report comes amid a lagging COVID-19 pandemic, now more than two years old, which has disrupted everyday life for those around the world. People are also experiencing increasing inflation, impacted by the pandemic and Russia’s invasion in Ukraine. 

The Gallup Global Emotions 2022 report polled adults in 122 areas and countries in 2021 and early 2022. Around 1,000 adults were polled by Gallup in each country, though more were polled in several countries. The margin of error is between 2 and 5.5 percentage points. 

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