West Virginians are stressed.
A new Gallup poll puts the Mountain State at the top of the list when it comes to stress levels nationwide. The other states in the top five are Rhode Island, Kentucky, Utah and Massachusetts.
“Our great state has a lot of issues that wear on us and make it difficult for us to stay happy and healthy and it’s a challenge that we’ve been faced with for some time,” said Dr. Jeff Hammond, past president of the West Virginia Psychological Association.
The question in the survey of about 353,000 Americans was “Did you feel stressed during a lot of the day yesterday?”
Dr. Hammond says there are many possible reasons why so many West Virginians answered “yes.”
“We do a lot of mining and a lot of farming in West Virginia. Those are difficult, dangerous, stressful jobs. We have a lot of veterans in West Virginia and we all know the stress that veterans have to deal with,” he said.
“There’s a lot of tobacco use and a lot of obesity and that really adds to feeling stressed out as well.”
Researchers say the causes of high stress levels are not completely clear, but there are indications of a small link between unemployment and stress levels.
“Stress is necessary. You have to have a certain amount of stress to feel motivated, to know that you’re alive. You have to have that push back from your world,” Dr. Hammond said.
However, he says too much mismanaged stress causes physical health problems. “Both our psychology and our physiology interact with each other. They stimulate each other. They enhance each other and you really can’t separate those,” he said.
According to the Gallup poll, the five least stressed states, in order, are Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, Iowa and Wyoming.
Dr. Hammond was a guest on Thursday’s MetroNews Talkline.