Florida Isn’t All Sunshine And Beaches, 13th Most Stressed State
Normally Florida paints a pretty picture of sunshine and relaxing waves, but a recent study shows the state is far from that.
According to WalletHub’s annual study, Florida is the nation’s 13th most stressed state. The methodology used to calculate this included work-related stress, family/relationship-related stress, money-related stress and health-related stress.
Dr. Kathleen Hall is the founder and C.E.O. of The Mindful Living Network & The Stress Institute. She defines stress in two parts.
“Stress is a physical, mental or emotional response to change,” said Dr. Hall. “The second (part of) stress is caused by when you feel like you’re in control you have less stress, but the less control you feel the more stress you experience.”
Now take that definition and apply it to the methodology WalletHub used for this study.
“If you live there (Florida) you have things like people vacationing and coming and going. When Wallethub was rating Florida as the 13th state it was also work-related stress, which is job security and we know unemployment went down a little this month, but Florida also has under employment,” explained Dr. Hall. “That causes stress and also working too many hours. They found that a lot of people were working way too many hours and having less leisure time.”
The next category WalletHub used was family/relationship-related stress. This was the category that Florida ranked the most stressful in.
“Florida has one of the highest divorce rates in the country. A lot of people view it as a fantasy, a place to start over,” said Dr. Hall. “You also have the people that move down to Florida for new jobs, opportunities and when they do they lose a lot of social support networks, they lose their family, their neighborhoods where they grew up. That causes tremendous stress.”
“Another thing is Florida has an aging population and the highest divorce rate is for people over 60. “
According to SuburbanStats, there are over four million people over the age of 60 living in Florida. As Dr. Hall explained, Florida is a state that many people come to retire in. Having an older population also makes healthcare concerns more of a hot topic.
“As far as healthcare, there are a lot of people in Florida without healthcare. There’s also not many psychologists per capita and there’s a whole lot of drinking,” said Dr. Hall.
Also keep in mind that healthcare was a big part of the recent Presidential Election.
“I believe we are still on the wave of political and post-election stress. So still 60-70% of Americans are very, very stressed still post-election, post-political stress. When this poll was done, Florida had just come out of that (election).”
Beyond the stress points that WalletHub analyzed, Dr. Hall has a couple of her own factors that she believes play a big part into why Florida is a stressed-out state.
“We have great studies that show how climate change is affecting Florida. Not only is the sea level rising, it’s getting a lot hotter. What that does is it can lead to depression, anxiety and stress because you have to really stay in air conditioning,” said Dr. Hall. “The heat is very stressful and forces you inside causing depression from being isolated inside.”
According to myPalmBeachPost, Florida has set records the past two years when it comes to high temperatures. 2016 was the second warmest year on record following behind 2015. The average annual temperature in 2016 was 72.5 degress, which is 2.4 degrees above the 20th century average, but just under the 2015 average of 73.4 degrees.
The heat isn’t the only thing stressing out Floridians in Dr. Hall’s opinion though.
“Another big one is your population and commuter stress. Commuter stress is one of the biggest drivers of all diseases,” said Dr. Hall.
“Florida has a lot of people on the road and a lot of geriatric people on the road. One in 12 heart attacks is directly related to traffic. This traffic, not only in the cities, but because you have geriatric people plus vacationers causes tremendous stress.”
This might be the most relate able stress point for many Florida residents as Interstate 4 was recently named the most dangerous highway in the U.S.
“Stress is affecting more Americans now than it has in 20 to 30 years,” said Dr. Hall.
So Floridians might not be alone, but they surely aren’t as relaxed as the Sunshine State portrays they are.