During a year that has brought sky-high reports of stress and anxiety, residents of Overland Park may be more insulated from some factors that can cause stress than most other cities.
The city was named the third-least stressed among 150 cities in the country by WalletHub, which analyzed data across four broad areas to arrive at its conclusion. Overland Park only trailed Plano, Texas and Fremont, Calif. in the ranking.
Kansas City is among the top-third most stressed cities in two individual categories: health and family stress. Springfield is the fifth-most stressed city in the health category but the third-least stressed city in terms of work stress, the analysis found.
WalletHub often ranks cities based on different metrics and recently named Olathe as among the best beach towns in the country. (No joke.)
And stress, especially job related, is a “vague and amorphous construct that doesn’t really lend itself to clean answers,” according to Matthew Grawitch, the director of strategic research at Saint Louis University. Stressors will cause different stress responses depending on the person.
That said, WalletHub did report analyzing a broad range of factors to arrive at its conclusions.
The health and safety index considered factors such as depression diagnoses, suicide rate and insured population. Financial stress was determined in part by median household income, bankruptcy rate and poverty rate. Family stress was measured in part by divorce rates, share of single parents and median duration of current marriage. Work stress was measured by an analysis of average length of workweek, commuter stress, unemployment and underemployment rates and income growth.
Two of the areas analyzed, work stress and financial stress, are tied to employment.
Grawitch said his department published an article in 2015 that identified causes of workplace stress. Among them: lack of fit between employee and job demands, excessive number of demands, health issues caused by workplace stress and a lack of relevant skills for a given job.
Money, or a lack thereof, is also a common cause of either stress or security.
“If resources generally exceed demands, then one can be more relaxed,” Grawitch said.
Despite Overland Park’s strong ranking in the financial category, studies have found that higher-class individuals are less attuned to others’ distress compared to lower-class individuals.
One of the first questions Grawitch asks people suffering from stress is whether they have enough financial resources to meet expenses.
He advised employees consult with their human resources department to request resources on managing stress or to do some reading on optimally managing resources.
Overland Park, though ranking 148th out of 150 cities (with the most-stressed city’s rank being 1), ranked in the bottom third in the work stress category.
Overland Park did rank in the top 10, however, in the other three categories.
Family interaction is waning in general, according to Grawitch, which can lead to family stress.
“Quality interaction is a lost characteristic in some families that are dominated by social media,” he said. “Designate some time each week to family interaction.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention offers these tips for managing stress:
▪ Eat healthy, well-balanced meals
▪ Exercise regularly
▪ Get plenty of sleep
▪ Talk to others and share your problems about how you’re feeling
▪ Avoid drugs and alcohol
▪ Take a break from stressors, especially news stories if they are causing you stress