With 1 in 4 essential workers having been diagnosed with a mental health disorder since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report on 2021’s Most & Least Stressed Cities in America, explores the topic and solutions.

In order to determine where Americans cope best with their stress, WalletHub compared more than 180 cities across 41 key metrics. The data set ranges from COVID-19 cases to average weekly work hours to divorce and suicide rates.

Most Stressed CitiesLeast Stressed Cities
1. Cleveland, OH173. Burlington, VT
2. Detroit, MI174. Lincoln, NE
3. New Orleans, LA175. Bismarck, ND
4. Baltimore, MD176. Overland Park, KS
5. Newark, NJ177. Fargo, ND
6. San Bernardino, CA178. Columbia, MD
7. Birmingham, AL179. Nashua, NH
8. North Las Vegas, NV180. Madison, WI
9. Philadelphia, PA181. Fremont, CA
10. Memphis, TN182. South Burlington, VT

Best vs. Worst

  • Lincoln, Neb., has the lowest unemployment rate, 2.20 percent, which is 5.5 times lower than in Newark, New Jersey, the city with the highest at 12.20 percent.
  • Fremont, Calif., has the lowest divorce rate, 9.21 percent, which is 4.4 times lower than in Cleveland, the city with the highest at 40.77 percent.
  • Fargo, North Dakota, has the lowest share of adults in fair or poor health, 10.20 percent, which is 2.4 times lower than in El Paso, the city with the highest at 24.90 percent.
  • Columbia, Md., has the highest median annual household income (adjusted by cost of living), $98,861, which is 3.4 times higher than in Newark, N.J., the city with the lowest at $28,757.

Experts Weigh in on How to Combat Stress

How can employers reduce work-related stress?

“Employees tend to have less stress when they have a sense of control over their schedules, have a clear sense of expectations, and open communication with an empathetic boss with the option for flexibility when needed. Employees tend to be more productive and loyal when they know that their boss is listening, understanding, and supporting. Do not underestimate the power of genuine praise for keeping morale up,” according to Deirdre Bowen, an associate professor, at the School of Law, Seattle University.

“Parents often report increased work-related stress during the pandemic is due to balancing multiple competing roles, including work and supervising children. This was especially the case when many children were home because schools and daycares were closed. One way employers can help reduce this stress would be offering flexible work arrangements, such as continuing to allow employees to work from home for all or part of the time and offering flexible work schedules,” added Johnna Swartz, an associate professor, at the University of California, Davis.

What are the most effective ways for people to manage stress levels caused by the COVID-19 pandemic?

“Research shows the most effective way to manage stress caused by COVID-19 is to do three things: 1. List the things that are causing stress. 2. Develop a plan for the things you realistically have control over. 3. Seek out help from others for the things you cannot currently control. Do not be afraid to ask for help from a wide array of sources. For an immediate sense of relief, do a few minutes of exercise, even if it means doing jumping jacks in your bedroom for one minute or going for a walk around the block, or doing deep yoga breathing for thirty seconds,” Bowen added.

“Exercise proved to be very effective in managing stress and anxiety, so a regular exercise routine could be one of the best ways to combat stress. Other ways to manage stress include yoga, mindfulness meditation, or finding hobbies outside of work such as baking, art, or gardening. In addition, seeking out a therapist could help with identifying more personalized strategies to manage stress,” Swartz said.

What tips do you have for a person who wishes to relax on a budget?

“Get creative in your thinking. Investigate free events in your area. Check out books and movies from the library instead of buying or renting online. Instead of going out to dinner, have a picnic in a park. No money for live performances? Look for free concerts online. Dig out board games and have a potluck game night. Are gym memberships too pricey? Check out all the free exercise classes online. Travel not in the budget? Stay close to home and explore a neighborhood that you have never been to before,” Bowen said.

“Many forms of exercise such as running around your neighborhood or taking a walk are free. And hobbies such as baking, art, or gardening can be done very affordably with the purchase of a few supplies. I would recommend when trying to relax to physically and mentally separate yourself from work — for example, try to do fun, relaxing activities in a different room or space from where you do work, and try not to check work e-mails when taking the time to relax,” Swartz said.

To view the full report and your city’s rank, please visit here.
Source: WalletHub