CHARLOTTE, NC — How’s your stress level? If you’re like most people in North Carolina, it’s more stressed than chill, according to personal finance website WalletHub.
Who’s the most chilled out? Minnesota is the least stressed in the country, according to a new ranking. The opposite is true in Louisiana, the Pelican State, which WalletHub said is the most-stressed state in the country.
WalletHub released its rankings of 2018’s Most and Least Stressed States to coincide with Stress Awareness Month and to bring attention to research that shows American stress levels have been increasing since 2016.
The rankings cover four basic areas — work-related stress, money-related stress, family-related stress. and health and safety-related stress. The analysts looked at everything from the average number of hours people work to personal bankruptcy rates to how much sleep average Americans get.
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When it comes to the most stressed out states, North Carolina comes in at an overall No. 20, just behind Ohio and before Michigan. When it comes to the category of family-related stress, however, the Tar Heel state ranks much higher on the stress scale, coming in at No. 14. By comparison, North Carolinians ranked lower and felt less stress when it came to safety and money related issues (No. 21 for both) and were relatively chill about work (ranked No. 27).
For more information on state rankings and WalletHub’s methodology, click here.
The 10 least-stressed states are:
Minnesota North Dakota Utah Iowa South Dakota Wisconsin Colorado Massachusetts Hawaii Nebraska
The 10 most-stressed states are:
Louisiana New Mexico West Virginia Mississippi Nevada Arkansas Oklahoma Alabama Kentucky Tennessee
So, what can you do to reduce stress?
"There are many angles on both the roots of stress and how to manage it, and I would hesitate to say there is a one-size-fits-all solution," Heidemarie Kaiser Laurant, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, said in a news release announcing the study. "However, one approach with a compelling history and increasing research support is mindfulness, which does not in itself does not cost any money."
The idea is that much of what is experienced as stress isn’t about life experiences, but rather internal resistance or struggles that we bring to those experiences. While the mortgage payment or long work week may loom large, just dealing with it — instead of complaining about it — is a better approach, she said.
"A commonly used metaphor involves two arrows: The first arrow is the pain of a difficult or psychological experience and the second (more damaging) arrow is the suffering that comes from adding judgments like ‘this shouldn’t be here/I can’t deal with this,’ " Laurant said. "By cultivating an attitude of greater acceptance — which does not mean passive resignation, but rather an active embrace of things as they are and our own capacity to work with these conditions — we can significantly reduce stress in our lives."
Some other findings from the analysis:
Hawaii has the lowest unemployment rate, 2.4 percent, which is three times lower than in Alaska, the highest at 7.2 percent. New Hampshire has the lowest share of population living below the poverty line, 8.5 percent, which is 2.6 times lower than in Mississippi, the highest at 22.3 percent. Utah has the lowest separation & divorce rate, 16.18 percent, which is 1.8 times lower than in the District of Columbia, the highest at 28.63 percent. Utah has the lowest share of adults in fair or poor health, 11.98 percent, which is two times lower than in Arkansas, the highest at 24.44 percent. The District of Columbia has the most psychologists per 100,000 residents, 97, which is 6.9 times more than in Alabama, the fewest at 14.
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