Hell Is Other People. This New List of the Most Stressed Out States Proves It

It makes sense to me. People do seem a little more high strung here.  

But then I looked deeper. The least-stressed state? Iowa, supposedly. Followed by Minnesota and North Dakota. (I think I’d be stressed out about the cold, alone.)

And right behind New Jersey, second-most stressed? Georgia, according to this study, and then Florida. Hmmm. Neither really struck me as particularly in the same category.

And then it hit me. They say that “hell is other people.” So I compared this list to a ranking of the most urbanized states–and the correlation was stunning. For a strong majority of the states, their ranking on the most-stressed out list was within 10 spots of their ranking on the most-densely populated list.

Here’s the list of most-stressed states, coupled with their rankings in terms of how urban they are. Yes, there are a few outliers, but by and large, “more urban equals more stressed.”

Let us know in the comments what you think of your state’s placement on the list.

1. New Jersey

Stress Rank: 1

Urban Rank: 2

Difference: 1

Most stressed state. Second most urbanized. We’re off to a strong start.

2. Georgia

Stress Rank: 2

Urban Rank: 23

Difference: 21

Okay, already we have a problem: Ranked #2 for stress, and #23 for urbanization. But, this was one of the biggest stress/urban gaps. The folks at Zippia, who complied the list, explain it partly by saying that because the state is so sprawling, many people live in a less urban area, but have to commute into one each day.

3. Florida

Stress Rank: 3 Urban Rank: 6 Difference: 3 Back on track. The difference here is just three. Florida is a lot more urban than many people realize. (Also, there’s a really high rate of people who don’t have health insurance.)

4. California

Stress Rank: 4

Urban Rank: 1

Difference: 3

Don’t let the beaches, deserts and farms fool you; when you add up the cities, California is by far the most urban state. And it’s #4 for stress.

5. New York 

Stress Rank: 5

Urban Rank: 12

Difference: 7

Obvious a high urban ranking, and a high stress rate. What do you expect from a state that contains the city that never sleeps?

6. Louisiana

Stress Rank: 6

Urban Rank: 27

Difference: 21

A bit out an outlier, but not radically so. Zippia opines that it’s because people work an especially high number of hours a week.

7. Maryland

Stress Rank: 7

Urban Rank: 13

Difference: 6

No surprise. Quite urban, very stressed.

8. North Carolina

Stress Rank: 8

Urban Rank: 36

Difference: 28

The high uninsured rate in North Carolina made it rank more stressed than it otherwise would have.

9. Virginia

Stress Rank: 9

Urban Rank: 22

Difference: 13

Similar to Georgia: the urban rank isn’t super high, but the percentage of people commuting from exurbs and rural areas to Washington D.C. leads to higher stress.

10 Mississippi

Stress Rank: 10

Urban Rank: 47

Difference: 37

Mississippi was one of the few states with a very high urban/stressed differential. According to Zippia, it’s because the state just isn’t doing very well, period. Comparatively high unemployment, very low insurance rates, and long hours worked for those who do have jobs.

11. South Carolina

Stress Rank: 11

Urban Rank: 34

Difference: 23

Another one of the slight outliers, but with a similar likely explanation: people live in rural areas, but have to commute to urban ones. Also, high uninsurance rates.

12. Texas

Stress Rank: 12

Urban Rank: 15

Difference: 3

Big state, big urbanization, big stress.

13. Illinois

Stress Rank: 13

Urban Rank: 10

Difference: 3

Again: the stress rank and urbanization rank are very close.

14. Nevada

Stress Rank: 14

Urban Rank: 3

Difference: 11

So many people live in and around either Las Vegas or Reno. Urban rank is very high, stress level is high, too.

15. Arizona

Stress Rank: 15

Urban Rank: 9

Difference: 6

A small differential between Stress Rank and urban rank.

17. Alabama

Stress Rank: 17

Urban Rank: 42

Difference: 25

Again, we see one of the southern states with a fairly high differential, which seems to be explainable by a lower standard of living from a financial standpoint, including low insurance rates.

18. Hawaii

Stress Rank: 18

Urban Rank: 5

Difference: 13

I’d be interested to see Hawaii broken down by island in terms of stress rates. Once you get off Oahu, it’s pretty mellow. But even so, stress and urbanization rates are pretty similar.

19. Alaska

Stress Rank: 19

Urban Rank: 37

Difference: 18

Alaska has some of the same stress explanations as some of the southern states, despite its outlier differential between urbanization and stress level.

20. Massachusetts

Stress Rank: 20

Urban Rank: 4

Difference: 16

Why does Massachusetts have a lower stress rating than you might expect? One key reason would seem to be the very high rate of medical insurance.

21. Connecticut

Stress Rank: 21

Urban Rank: 11

Difference: 10

Having lived in Connecticut, I would have thought it would rank higher for stress. But its cities are smaller, and the state is less urban.

22. Washington

Stress Rank: 22

Urban Rank: 16

Difference: 6

Moderately urban, moderately stressed.

23. Colorado

Stress Rank: 23

Urban Rank: 14

Difference: 9

Pretty close on both urban and Stress Rankings.

24. Delaware

Stress Rank: 24

Urban Rank: 17

Difference: 7

Hardly worth mentioning the difference.

25. Rhode Island

Stress Rank: 25

Urban Rank: 7

Difference: 18

A bit of an outlier, but not by much.

26. Pennsylvania

Stress Rank: 26

Urban Rank: 19

Difference: 7

Very close in terms of urban and Stress Ranking.

27. New Mexico

Stress Rank: 27

Urban Rank: 21

Difference: 6

Again, very close.

28. West Virginia

Stress Rank: 28

Urban Rank: 48

Difference: 20

Once again, a very low urban rate would predict less stress, except for the financial stress that residents are under. Low health insurance rate doesn’t help, either.

29. New Hampshire

Stress Rank: 29

Urban Rank: 40

Difference: 11

Pretty close urban and Stress Rank.

30. Oregon

Stress Rank: 30

Urban Rank: 18

Difference: 12

Similar to New Hampshire, except it’s going the other way: ranks a bit less stressed than you might imagine, but still pretty close.

31. Arkansas

Stress Rank: 31

Urban Rank: 45

Difference: 14

A 14 point difference pushes the boundaries a bit, but once again, the low health insurance rate is a big factor.

32. Oklahoma

Stress Rank: 32

Urban Rank: 35

Difference: 3

Not very urban, not very stressed.

33. Kentucky

Stress Rank: 33

Urban Rank: 43

Difference: 10

Same thing: less urban, less stressed.

33. Tennessee

Stress Rank: 33

Urban Rank: 33

Difference: 0

One of two states where the differential was zero.

34. Indiana

Stress Rank: 34

Urban Rank: 29

Difference: 5

Once again: Fairly rural, fairly unstressed.

35. Missouri

Stress Rank: 35

Urban Rank: 31

Difference: 4

Another with a low differential.

36. Wisconsin

Stress Rank: 36

Urban Rank: 32

Difference: 4

And yet another.

37. Ohio

Stress Rank: 37

Urban Rank: 20

Difference: 17

A small outlier, but not too far off. I don’t have a great explanation for this one, but good for Ohioans who are in a fairly urban state, but don’t have as much stress.

38. Wyoming

Stress Rank: 38

Urban Rank: 38

Difference: 0

My second favorite state for this purpose, because its urbanization and stress rates are identical.

39. Montana

Stress Rank: 39

Urban Rank: 46

Difference: 7

Seven points difference isn’t that much.

40. Idaho

Stress Rank: 40

Urban Rank: 30

Difference: 10

Within 10 points. It’s a pretty nice place to visit, by the way.

41. Maine

Stress Rank: 41

Urban Rank: 50

Difference: 9

I hadn’t realized Maine was the least urban state in the country. But it is, and it’s also one of the least stressed.

42. Kansas

Stress Rank: 42

Urban Rank: 25

Difference: 17

A little bit of an outlier… but not too far off.

43. Utah

Stress Rank: 43

Urban Rank: 8

Difference: 35

Okay, there is just something about Utah. I don’t think I’ve ever met a high strung person from there. But its differential is an outlier.

44. Michigan

Stress Rank: 44

Urban Rank: 24

Difference: 20

Fairly close. A tough regional economy could explain a lot of this.

45. Vermont

Stress Rank: 45

Urban Rank: 49

Difference: 4

Tiny differential.

46. South Dakota

Stress Rank: 46

Urban Rank: 44

Difference: 2

Even tinier differential.

47. Nebraska

Stress Rank: 47

Urban Rank: 28

Difference: 19

While Nebraska has a higher urbanization rating than you might expect, it’s still not very densely populated, which sort of offsets the differential.

47. North Dakota

Stress Rank: 47

Urban Rank: 41

Difference: 6

Very cold, but very low differential.

49. Minnesota

Stress Rank: 49

Urban Rank: 26

Difference: 23

Fairly high urbanization and low stress. Let’s call it an outlier and chalk it up to Minnesota Nice.

50. Iowa

Stress Rank: 50

Urban Rank: 39

Difference: 11

The least-stressed state in the country. Congratulations Iowa. And a low differential. I rest my case.