2022 in a Word: Permastressed
Neverending crises have caused unprecedented stress and anxiety. Before we can get better, we must acknowledge the seriousness of the problem.
“Why is everyone so messy right now?” the journalist Jasmin Malik Chua asked earlier this month on Twitter. I responded that messy sounded like the word of the year. “I would also vote for permastressed,” Chua wrote back. She’d heard the word when a CEO in a panel discussion said, “Being in a permacrisis means I’m permastressed.”
A whopping 27% of U.S. adults say they’re so stressed most days that they can’t function normally, according to a survey released in October by the American Psychological Association. Younger adults are particularly permastressed.
The rest of the country isn’t doing so well, either. Three-fourths of respondents said stress had caused feelings of nervousness, anxiety, sadness, depression, fatigue or a headache at least once in the past month.
The neverending crises
Rooted in political polarization, sowed by disinformation and online hate speech, and fertilized by a neverending pandemic of plagueish proportion, 2022 grew into a year in which stress and anxiety exceeded our ability to cope. Everyday concerns blossomed like a blood stain into chronic worry, anxiety, and stress that just won’t go away. Yes, we’re permastressed. And not by just one gut-wrenching crisis but by multiple ongoing permacrises.
I get stressed just generating a woefully incomplete list of the things that fueled permastress in 2022:
- Russia invaded Ukraine.
- We didn’t emerge from the pandemic.
- A respiratory illness known as RSV began attacking children with unusual virulence.
- Raging fires and floods brought the threat of global warming from tomorrow to today.
- Mass shootings became even more routine and mind-numbing.
- The stock market tanked again and crypto imploded.