There’s a growing well of research about how where we live affects our well-being. Studies have found that the residents of certain studies sleep less, while others struggle with work-life integration. And today, new data from SmartAsset’s annual study proved that there are specific cities that are the most relaxed places to live.
The financial technology company’s fourth annual study, which measured stress levels in 493 cities nationwide, used nine metrics in its analysis: average hours worked per week, average commute, average amounts of physical activity, entertainment establishment density, unemployment rate, bankruptcy rate, housing as percent of income, hours of sleep per night and divorce rate. After collecting data on each city in the country, researchers found the top five most relaxed cities:
Iowa City, Iowa
Although each city varies in its stress measurements, the researchers found a few trends across the board. For example, they found the Midwest was the least stressed region. “Cities in the Midwest occupy eight of the top 10 least-stressed cities” the study authors write. Why? “Midwestern cities typically combine low working hours with affordable housing, leaving residents with plenty of free time without the stress of wondering if they will be able to afford their bills.”
The study also revealed a strong connection between relaxation and college towns. “Seven cities in our top 10 are college towns where major universities are an important part of the local economy,” they stated. “So, if you’re looking to find a youthful, low-stress city, college towns are a good place to start your search.” Lastly, they found that some cities that are thought of as vacation spots, like Miami Beach, were found to be more stressed than one would think. “Miami, Miami Beach and Miami Gardens were the bottom three ranked cities,” the data found. “Miami seems to be a stressful city to live.”
While it might not be practical to get up and move based on the data, but studies like these serve as an important reminder that our environment truly makes a difference when it comes to mental well-being and stress levels. If you’re not sure why you feel burnt out, it’s worth taking a look around and seeing if an external change would help internally. And just remember, if you’re mentally drained from your environment, it’s okay to put yourself first and make a necessary change.