The 10 Most Stressed States in the U.S. and the 10 Least
Last Updated: May 03, 2017
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Stressed out? You’re not alone. For the first time since it began releasing its “Stress in America” report in 2007, the APA found a statistically significant increase in stress this past January. To find out which places are under the most pressure, WalletHub’s analysts compared the 50 states and the District of Columbia across 33 different indicators of stress, including everything from average hours worked per week to the number of adults getting adequate sleep. Here are the 10 most stressed-out U.S. states (in order of more to most stressed) along with the 10 least stressed-out states (in order of less to least stressed).
MOST STRESSED: ARKANSAS
Each of WalletHub’s stress indicators falls under one of four categories: Work-Related, Money-Related, Family-Related and Health- and Safety-Related Stress. Arkansas performed poorly in both the Money-Related Stress category, coming in third place, and the Health- and Safety-Related Stress category as the runner-up. WalletHub also found that the state has the fifth highest percentage of its population living below the poverty line, the fifth highest crime rate per capita and the second highest percentage of adults in fair or poor health.
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MOST STRESSED: TENNESSEE
Like Arkansas, residents of Tennessee are particularly burdened with money-related stress, coming in fifth place in that category. “For financial stress, start with a list of your expenses,” suggests WalletHub expert Anthony R. Wheeler, associate dean and professor of human resources management in the College of Business at Bryant University. “And instead of thinking about cutting a specific expense, consider how to reduce the cost of that specific expense.” For example, instead of stopping at your local cafe for a daily latte, brew your own coffee at home to save a few dollars. Feeling more in control of your finances — and seeing results when you save — will help to lower you stress levels.
MOST STRESSED: GEORGIA
Georgia earned eighth place primarily because people there are experiencing a lot of family-related stress. WalletHub ranked them third in that category, which accounts for indicators like divorce rate and share of single parents. Cynthia A. Thompson, professor of management and EMBA academic director in the Zicklin School of Business at Baruch College, recommends that parents who want to help minimize their child’s stress “be present — psychologically and emotionally as well as physically — when you are with them,” she tells WalletHub. Showing that you’re there for them will boost their confidence and resilience, giving them the skills they need to cope with stress later on.
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MOST STRESSED: NEVADA
Nevada’s population also suffers from family-related stress, coming in second place in that category. They have the third fewest psychologists per capita and the second highest divorce rate. According to a 2006 study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, divorced women reported “significantly higher levels of psychological distress” than married women during the years immediately after their divorce, and they experienced significantly higher levels of physical illness a decade later.
MOST STRESSED: NEW MEXICO
New Mexico ranked third in the Work-Related Stress category. It has the second highest crime rate per capita and the second highest percentage of its population living below the poverty line. According to WalletHub, Americans commonly named money, work and the economy as stressors. However, this year people are also reporting “increased anxiety” over current events and an increased fear of violence. In 2015, the crime rate in New Mexico was 656.1 per 100,000 people, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, almost double the national average of 383.2. If you’re feeling inundated with bad news about current events, check out the tips in the link below for what to do when you’re freaked out by all the negativity on the news.
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MOST STRESSED: KENTUCKY
Kentucky has the lowest job security in the country, with an unemployment rate of 5 percent as of March 2017. It also has the fifth highest percentage of its population living below the poverty line and gets the second fewest average hours of sleep per night. According to the Cleveland Clinic, not getting enough sleep affects not only your physical health, but also your mental well-being. “Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke,” the center reports. Aim to get seven or more hours of sleep every night, recommends the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
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MOST STRESSED: WEST VIRGINIA
West Virginians top the country in health- and safety-related stress, with the highest percentage of adults in fair or poor health. It’s clear that physical illness can cause a lot of stress, but according to WalletHub expert Lesley L. Rennis, associate professor at CUNY-Borough of Manhattan Community College, stress also contributes to physical illness: “According to most statistics, 75 to 90 percent of all doctor visits are for stress-related ailments and/or complaints” she says. “Stress plays a part in just about every illness.” Insurance companies should invest in more preventative stress-relief techniques like massages and yoga, Rennis argues, in order to improve our country’s health and save money.
MOST STRESSED: MISSISSIPPI
Mississippi got a smattering of bad scores across the board. It is top of the heap for having the most money-related stress in the country. Plus, it has the fourth most family-related stress and the seventh most health- and safety-related stress. Here’s the breakdown: Mississippi has the highest percentage of its population living below the poverty line (22 percent), the lowest credit score, the third highest percentage of adults living in fair or poor health and, to make things worse, the fifth fewest psychologists per capita.
MOST STRESSED: LOUISIANA
According to WalletHub, Louisiana residents have the second most work-related stress in America. They’re tied with Oklahoma and our No. 1 most stressed state for having the fourth highest percentage of adults in poor or fair health, and they’re also tied with South Carolina for having the fourth lowest credit score. Louisiana also has the third highest percentage of its population living below the poverty line (19.6 percent), the fourth highest divorce rate and the fourth highest crime rate per capita (539.7 per 100,000 people). Like in Mississippi, the situation is made worse by the lack of accessible mental health practitioners there: Louisiana has the fewest psychologists per capita in the nation.
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MOST STRESSED: ALABAMA
Alabama is the most stressed state in the U.S. It ranked high in all four of Wallethub’s categories, gaining second place in the Money-Related Stress category, fifth place in both the Work-Related Stress and Family-Related Stress categories and sixth place in the Health- and Safety-Related Stress category. It tied with Georgia for having the second lowest credit score, and it tied with Louisiana and Oklahoma for having the fourth highest percentage of adults in fair or poor health. People there also get the fourth fewest average hours of sleep per night and have the second fewest psychologists per capita. Read on to find out which states are taking it easy.
LEAST STRESSED: WISCONSIN
Wisconsin is the 10th least stressed state in America, scoring particularly well when it came to work-related stress. Work-life balance is important for job satisfaction and happiness. The Washington Post overviewed several studies that linked long work hours (49 to 55 hours a week) to different health risks, including heart disease, diabetes, heart attack and depression. Other factors that contribute to job satisfaction, according to Forbes, include appreciation for your work, good relationships with colleagues and good relationships with superiors.
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LEAST STRESSED: COLORADO
Colorado is WalletHub’s ninth least stressed state, due in part to the fact that it gets the second most hours of sleep per night on average, which is important for both physical and mental health. A recent study, released by County Health Rankings & Roadmaps, found that seven of the 10 most active counties in the U.S. are located in Colorado. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, physical activity produces endorphins, chemicals in your brain that act as painkillers, and improves your ability to sleep.
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LEAST STRESSED: VERMONT
Vermont made WalletHub’s list of least stressed states for having the second lowest amount of family-related stress in the country as well as fourth least amount of health- and safety-related stress. For one thing, it has the third most psychologists per capita. People there also work the fifth fewest hours per week on average. It has the lowest crime rate in the nation — 118 reported crimes per 100,000 people (compared to the national average of 383 per 100,000). The state also has the second lowest percentage of adults with poor or fair health.
LEAST STRESSED: NEW HAMPSHIRE
The people of New Hampshire have the fourth least work-related stress in the country and the fifth least money-related stress. The state has the third lowest crime rate per capita (199.3 reported incidents per 100,000 people), the lowest percentage of adults in fair or poor health and the lowest percentage of its population living below the poverty line (8.2 percent).
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LEAST STRESSED: NEBRASKA
Nebraska had great scores across the board: It came in ninth place in both the Family-Related and Health- and Safety-Related Stress categories and 12th place in the Work-Related and Money-Related Stress categories. It has the fifth highest average credit score in the country, the fourth most hours of sleep per night on average and the second most affordable housing.
LEAST STRESSED: UTAH
Utah has the second least amount of work-related stress in the country, which is probably due to the fact that people there work the fewest hours per week on average. Utah also has the lowest divorce rate in the country, which, as mentioned in an earlier slide, is important for reducing risk of depression and physical illness down the road.
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LEAST STRESSED: IOWA
According to WalletHub, Iowa boasts the most affordable housing in the nation. An estimated 12 million people in the U.S. pay more than 50 percent of their incomes for housing. The Johns Hopkins Center to Eliminate Cardiovascular Health Disparities reports that families who can’t afford adequate housing may be forced to live in homes that are too small for their needs or too crowded. “This makes it difficult for them to maintain healthy relationships and to handle personal stress,” the center’s website reads. “High levels of stress can lead to or exacerbate a number of health issues, including higher blood pressure.”
LEAST STRESSED: NORTH DAKOTA (TIE)
North Dakota tied with WalletHub’s No. 1 least stressed state for having the highest average credit score in the nation. It also topped the nation for having the least family-related stress, which makes sense when you consider that it has the fourth most affordable housing in the U.S. and the second lowest divorce rate.
LEAST STRESSED: MINNESOTA (TIE)
Minnesota is America’s least stressed state. It tied with North Dakota for having the highest average credit score. It also has the fourth lowest divorce rate, the fourth most psychologists per capita and the third lowest percentage of adults in fair or poor health. Plus, residents there get the third most hours of sleep per night on average. There are plenty of ways to de-stress, including exercise, breathing deeply and confronting sources of stress. You can download an anti-anxiety app, eat certain stress-relieving foods or adopt a pet. Whatever you do, it’s important to recognize when you’re feeling stressed and establish balance by taking care of yourself. Start practicing self-care with our tips for stress-relief linked below.
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