If your nerves are a bit frazzled chances are you live in West Virginia. According to the new Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index released earlier today, residents of this state are the most stressed out in the nation.
Gallup has been tracking the daily stress levels of Americans since 2008. To find out how much the average citizen feels emotional and psychological stress and enjoys life on a daily basis, they polled more than 350,000 people by phone — despite the fact that numerous studies show increased phone usage can increase anxiety.
Besides West Virginians, more people who live in Rhode Island, Kentucky, Utah and Massachusetts reported a case of frayed nerves the previous day. In all those states over 40 percent of those surveyed admitted they felt some level of stress the day before being interviewed.
And more people from Rhode Island, Kentucky, New Jersey, New York, and West Virginia seem to be having a miserable time. Nearly 20 percent of people in those states told interviewers they did not enjoy themselves the day before.
Hawaiians, on the other hand, are mellow compared with those who live in the lower 48. For the second year in a row, they seemed to be the most immune to emotional stress and more likely to feel enjoyment. A mere 32 percent of Hawaiians reported feeling stressed out and nearly 90 percent said they were enjoying life. (President Obama was born in Honolulu, Hawaii.)
Other states with the fewest anxious residents included Louisiana, Iowa, Mississippi and Wyoming. After Hawaii, the states with the highest reported enjoyment levels were Wyoming, Utah, North Dakota and Idaho.
The researchers aren’t clear what the association is between stress and enjoyment but many of the states with the highest stress levels were also states where people seemed to be having the least fun. And rankings have remained fairly consistent, with stress levels in all states remaining statistically unchanged in 2012 compared with 2011.
For example, Hawaii has ranked as the state with the lowest percentage of residents reporting stress on the prior day all five years the survey has been conducted. West Virginia, Kentucky, and Utah, have each ranked within the top five most stressed states for the past five years. West Virginia ranked as the most stressed state in 2012, Kentucky was the top state for stress in 2008 and 2011, and Utah was the top state for stress in 2009 and 2010.
Residents in other high-stress states, Kentucky and West Virginia, were also among the least likely to experience enjoyment. Both of these states have appeared among the bottom five states for experiencing enjoyment at least three times since Gallup began reporting this measure, including last year’s poll.
Regionally, states with stress levels at or above 42 percent were clustered in the Northeast and Midwest, but also included Utah, Oregon, and Washington. Utah is unique in that it routinely ranks among both the highest stress and highest enjoyment states. The researchers said they believed this underscores the complex relationship between stress and other emotions.
On average, 40.6 percent of Americans reported feeling stressed “yesterday” in this year’s survey and almost 85 percent reported feeling enjoyment “yesterday.” To see where your state ranked, click here.