New study says that more people are sad, worried, and stressed than ever before: RECORD numbers suggest something is very wrong with our mental state
12/26/2018 // Zoey Sky // Views

If you thought 2017 was an off year for you, it looks like you weren't alone. According to a survey, people's negative emotions reached "a record high in 2017."

2017: The year of negative emotions

For the survey, researchers interviewed over 154,000 individuals from 147 countries throughout 2017.

The survey of people's daily emotions, which was conducted by the analytics and advice company Gallup, revealed that in 2017, worldwide reports of negative emotions, such as sadness, stress, and worry, increased over the last decade. The reports of these negative emotions hit "a record high" for 2017.

The survey also showed that reports of positive emotions went down in 2017 compared to 2016. Based on the reports of positive emotions, 2017's "happiest" country was Paraguay. This marked the third year in a row that the South American country earned the top spot. Meanwhile, Afghanistan was named the least happy country.

In the survey, researchers asked participants if they had specific positive or negative emotions or experiences the day before. For instance, when gauging their positive experiences, people were asked if they "felt well rested, were treated with respect, smiled or laughed a lot or enjoyed themselves" on the previous day.

Meanwhile, to gauge negative experiences people were asked if "they felt worry, sadness, stress, anger or physical pain" the day before. (Related: The many ways stress makes you sick.)

Using these responses, Gallup developed an "index score" of positive and negative experiences for each country and for the world overall. The index score had a cap of 100.


Data from Gallup's 2017 survey showed that in general, individuals around the globe had a negative-experience score of 30, the highest negative-experience score measured since the company started conducting the survey in 2006. In contrast, back in 2016, the global negative-experience score was 28. In 2006, it was 24.

Mohamed Younis, Gallup's managing editor, explained that this means the world is collectively "more stressed, worried, sad and in pain today than we've ever seen it." Increasing reports of physical pain, sadness, stress, and worry is responsible for the slight upward trend.

At a country level, the majority of countries with high negative-experience scores faced war or other disturbances back in 2017. For example, the Central African Republic (CAR), the country with the highest negative-experience score, saw fighting once again between armed groups. The conflict forced thousands of people from their homes in 2017. Gallup shared that CAR's score of 61 is the highest that was recorded in the last decade.

Other countries with high negative-experience scores include Iraq (59), South Sudan (55), and Chad (54).

The U.S. had a negative-experience score of 32, a result slightly higher than the global average. Out of the high-income countries that belonged to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the U.S. had the fourth-highest negative-experience score. The U.S. also tied with two other countries, Chile and Turkey.

At least 49 percent of Americans reported that they were feeling "stressed a lot" the previous day, which is higher than 37 percent, the global average.

Additionally, the survey determined that the global score for positive experiences in 2017 was 69 out of 100, which is slightly lower than a score of 70 in 2016 and 71 in 2015. However, Gallup assured that 2017's positive-experience score "is not out of line for scores in the past decade."

At a country level, Paraguay is in first place with a score 85, followed by Colombia, El Salvador, and Guatemala, which all tied with a score of 82. According to the Gallup, Latin American countries often dominate the list of "happiest" countries because "the cultural tendency in the region to focus on life's positives."

The U.S. had a positive-experience score of 78, which is above the global average. This score places the country in fourth place among OECD members, where it tied with Finland. The survey revealed that a whopping 82 percent of Americans reported that they "smiled or laughed a lot" the day before while 92 percent said they were treated with respect.

Younis commented that regardless of where a country falls on the Positive or Negative Experience Indexes, world leaders must track the emotional temperature of the people they lead. He concluded that leaders can't "effectively lead their societies, seek better opportunities for their citizens, and ensure that future generations will live better lives than previous ones" if they don't monitor how citizens assess their lives and try to understand the local realities they regularly face.

Tips for managing stress

If you want to keep 2019 as stress-free as possible, follow the tips below:

  1. Avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. Try to limit your smoking and drinking or avoid these vices completely to stay healthy physically and mentally.
  2. Eat healthily. Following a healthy diet will reduce the risks of diet-related diseases. Eating enough fruits, lean meat, and vegetables ensures that your diet gives your brain enough nutrients like essential vitamins and minerals.
  3. Exercise regularly. Regular physical activity can help relieve stress. If you don't have time for daily gym sessions, a walk around the park will do.
  4. Get enough sleep. When you're stressed, you may have trouble falling asleep. Try to identify your stressors and take steps to manage them so you can get enough sleep, which is essential for your well-being and peace of mind.
  5. Take a break and relax. Work is important, but you also need a break from work-related stress. Self-care is crucial for your mental health.

You can read more articles with tips about stress management and caring for your mental health at

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