While people run around New York and America’s other major cities frantically seeking success and money, residents of Hawaii barely experience any stress at all. It does not take much evidence to understand why. A postcard from or commercial about a visit to the island state is enough to make a strong case for a state of serenity.
A new report from Gallup shows that Hawaii is the state where residents feel “least stressed.” Following Hawaii are Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa and Wyoming. These states do not share much in common, at least on paper, with the exception of the two in the deep South.
At the other end of the spectrum are West Virginia, Rhode Island, Kentucky, Utah and Massachusetts. Once again, other than the two states that are considered part of the Old South, these five have nothing in common, at least on the surface.
The lack of commonality among demographics, weather and the industries that are the largest employers in each of these states makes the elements that go into the lists even more mysterious. Mississippi and Louisiana usually are considered poor states, as measured by poverty, income and education. But the same holds true for West Virginia at the other end of the list. And on the most stressed continuum, if there is a financially poor state in the North, Rhode Island with its high unemployment and ruinous deficits would be at or near the top of the list.
Gallup research shows a bond between stress and “enjoyment” that is ill-defined. The research firm explains the relationship between stress and enjoyment this way:
While the relationship between stress and enjoyment is not clear, states with the highest stress levels tend to report less daily enjoyment. Further investigation into what drives stress, how it impacts people, and ways to mitigate its effects are important, as 40% of American adults consistently report experiencing it a lot of the day “yesterday.”
However, the basis of enjoyment likely is different in Wyoming and Hawaii. Clearly the difference in geographic location does not matter. People who do not experience stress do not experience it. But that may be wrong, too.
Methodology: Results are based on telephone interviews conducted as part of the Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index survey Jan. 1 to Dec. 31, 2012, with a random sample of 353,564 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia, selected using random-digit-dial sampling.