Stress Levels Soar in the South Due to Poverty, Tension at Work and Home, and High Crime Rates While the North Has Low Stress Levels With Good Health and Low Poverty and Divorce Rates

Where you live can affect your stress levels.

And a recent study showed just that when it named Louisiana the most stressed state in the US.

A new review, compiled by WalletHub, determined the Creole State to be the worst when it came to tension in work and personal life.

Louisiana had among the worst rates of poverty, the most average hours worked per week and the highest crimes rates per capita.

The bottom five all fell in the south: Mississippi, Arkansas, Kentucky and West Virginia.

Meanwhile, Minnesota took the top grade as the least stressed state in the country.

The North Star State had the best median credit score and lowest ratio of people in poor health, and had among the lowest poverty levels and divorce rates.

Rounding out the top five were states mostly in Middle America: Utah, North Dakota, South Dakota, Iowa – and Massachusetts on the east coast.

THE MOST STRESSED STATES… 

1. Louisiana

2. Mississippi

3. Arkansas

4. Kentucky

5. West Virginia

6. New Mexico

7. Alabama

8. Nevada

9. Alaska

10. Oklahoma

…AND THE LEAST STRESSED STATES 

1. Minnesota

2. Utah

3. Massachusetts

4. North Dakota

5. South Dakota

6. Iowa

7. New Hampshire

8. Wisconsin

9. Hawaii

10. Montana

Although stress levels reached their lowest point in 2016 in nearly a decade, they’ve been on the uptick ever since.

During the 10-year period when stress was declining, Americans commonly identified ‘money, work and the economy’ as their biggest sources of worry.

Today, anxiety centers on the current political climate, uncertainty of our nation’s future and fear of violence.

Negative stress can manifest physically including headaches, elevated blood pressure, and chest pain.

These can all raise the risk of – or worsen – diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma and arthritis.

Additionally, the increase of cortisol, known as the stress hormone, can increase the amount of fat tissue in the body and cause weight gain.

To reach its findings, WalletHub compared the states across four key dimensions: work-related stress, money-related stress, family-related stress, and health and safety-related stress.

Several categories were looked at including average hours worked per week, percent of the population living in poverty, job security, divorce rates and the share of adults getting adequate sleep.

After assessing each state’s provisions, the researchers provided grades out of 100, with the least amount of points indicating a better score.

WORK-RELATED STRESS

Minnesota scored just 26.81 out of 100 while Louisiana earned 59.94 out of 100.

In a surprising twist, Alaska came in first as the state with the most average hours worked per week.

Researchers have found that working long hours is linked to a multitude of ailments including heart disease, diabetes, stroke and mental health problems.

Meanwhile, Utah had the lowest average of weekly work hours.

A recent analysis from Business.org found that Alaskans worked an average of 41.6 hours per week – above the national average of 38.8 hours – while Utahans worked about 37.7 hours per week.

Despite being among the least stressed states, North Dakota had the lowest job security.

Meanwhile states on the west coast, with the exception of Massachusetts, had the highest job security.

MONEY-RELATED STRESS

Mississippi, which came at number two for the most stressed states overall, was found to have the highest poverty rates.

According to a 2017 report from the US Census Bureau, nearly 20 percent of people live in poverty in Mississippi.

Meanwhile, New Hampshire, which was in the top 10 of least stressed states, came in first for the lowest poverty rate.

In US census data, just eight percent of persons in the Granite State were found to live in poverty.

Mississippi also came in first for the lowest median credit score while Minnesota came out on top with the highest average.

Experian’s 2017 State of Credit Study found that the average credit score in Minnesota is 709, which is above the national average of 673. The same ranking found Mississippi’s average to be 647.

FAMILY-RELATED STRESS

Surprisingly, Hawaii took the number one spot as the state with the least affordable housing. Unsurprisingly, California and New York took second and third, respectively.

Meanwhile stated in mainly Middle America had the most affordable housing with Iowa, ranked among the least-stressed states, coming in first.

HawaiiNewsNow reported in September that the average price of a four-bedroom, two-bathroom home in Hawaii climbed to $904,954, up from $654,648 in 2017.

In a stark contrast, according to real estate site Zillow, the median listing price for a home in Iowa is $170,000 – a 81 percent difference from Hawaii.

Also impacting family stress were divorce rates. Nevada was ranked as the state with the highest divorce rate at around 12.3 per 1,000 people, which was two times higher than the rate of Utah.

HEALTH AND SAFETY-RELATED STRESS

In the ranking, New Mexico was named the state with the highest crime rate per capita and Maine came in first with the lowest.

FBI statistics show that Mew Mexico had a violent crime rate of 596.7 per 100,000 residents, while Maine had a rate of just 76.9 per 100,000 people.

Hawaii was ranked first for the lowest average hours of sleep every night. South Dakota, which was the fifth-least stressed state, had the highest average hours of sleep.

It is well-known that those who get less than the recommended eight hours of sleep each night have higher levels of stress.

The American Psychological Association’s 2017 Stress in America Survey found that 40 percent adults who reported less than eight hours of snoozing said their stressed has increased in the past year – compared to 25 percent of adults with more than eight hours.

SOURCE: Daily Mail, Mary Kekatos