Stress affects everyone: It creeps into every aspect of our lives and is now considered to be one of the biggest hazards to our health and well-being. Stress has been steadily on the rise in America and with the holidays right around the corner, our stress levels tend to amp up with the added pressure of cooking meals, organizing parties, buying gifts, and of course, one of the biggest stressors of all — family (this year, be sure to tell Aunt Cindy that your choice of throw pillows is fine. Just fine.)
WalletHub conducted a recent study to discover which US states are the most stressed. To determine which states are the most and least stressed they looked at four different categories: Work-Related Stress, Money-Related Stress, Family-Related Stress, and Health and Safety-Related Stress. Every state was evaluated in each category by giving a score to 38 relevant metrics that include stressors such as average hours worked per week, commute time, median income, debt, divorce rates, parental stress, adult health, crime rate, and more.
The study looked at all 50 states and the District of Columbia. In general, the study found some of the most common stressors for Americans include money worries, concern over the direction of the country, and health care.
So how stressed out are we Minnesotans?
Well, you might be just as surprised as I was. Minnesota ranks at #51 meaning us Minnesotans living here in the frozen tundra are in fact the least stressed state in the union.
Granted, I think if the stressor metrics included driving in rush hour during a blizzard the study may have come to a different conclusion. And even if you may not feel so stress-free yourself, the study bodes well for the health of Minnesotans and hopefully we can continue on this stressless trajectory.
Those states who join us in the top five least stressed out states are: North Dakota in second, followed by Utah, Iowa, and then South Dakota as the fifth least stressed state. Apparently the midwest radiates a calming atmosphere.
The most stressed states are Louisiana ranking as the #1 most stressed, followed by New Mexico, West Virginia, Mississippi, and Nevada.
Looking more closely at Minnesota, we scored incredibly well when it came to our health and safety-related stress as well as our money-related stress.
Minnesota ranked in the top five for having the lowest percentage of adults in poor health, most psychologists per capita, the lowest divorce rate, lowest percentage of the population living below the poverty line, and the highest credit score.
Even though Minnesota is the least stressed in the nation, that doesn’t mean stress won’t find its way into our lives. So what can you do to help ease your stress? WalletHub turned to the experts.
Aris Karagiorgakis, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pennsylvania State University recommends, “Exercise, nutrition, and [get] a consistently good night’s sleep. Find whatever makes you happy and engage in that activity, so long as it is healthy, and maybe even set aside 20-30 minutes each day for that activity.”
Janice G. Weber, Associate Professor in the Child and Family Studies Program at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette advises, “To reduce stressing over finances, do some planning. A family life educator can teach you how to make a spending plan… but we may also need to work on our beliefs about spending with a counselor [who] can help us explore and correct those beliefs to reduce stress over finances.”
Following this advice could certainly help us keep our sanity and our health especially with the holiday season bearing down on us. This is the perfect time to implement some new habits and focus on managing stress so your holidays and new year will be as stress-free as the rest of the state.
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