Which areas of the UK are the most stressful places to live? New survey reveals surprising results
Frazzled? You're not alone. Recent research has revealed one in 14 of us feel stressed every single day, but turns out certain areas of the UK are feeling the pressure far more than others.
While you may think the frantic pace of London would incite feelings of anxiousness, it turns out the capital isn't among the top 10 most stressful places to live.
Instead, the accolade of most stressed town or city falls to Blackpool, followed closely by Chesterfield while Kingston upon Hull in Yorkshire comes in third spot.
The research, by UK residential rehab provider Abbeycarefoundation.com, looked at various traits that either might make a person feel stressed or relate to stress, with factors such as life satisfaction, anxiety levels, percentage of physical inactivity and median weekly pay all taken into consideration.
Other factors measured include the percentage of smokers, average hours worked per week and percentage of people who have never worked from home.
These particular indicators were chosen due to the impacts that they have on a person’s wellbeing and therefore potential levels of stress. Each factor was given a score which were then combined to give a rating on the stress index – and the results were not what you'd expect.
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Step forward Blackpool leading the way with an overall stress index scoring of 89.7.
While considered a popular tourist destination due to its beaches and attractions, for residents it seems the historical Lancashire town is not quite as alluring.
With relatively low median weekly pay of £400 per week, a high percentage of smokers and high levels of physical inactivity, which can lead to a deterioration in mental and physical health, the seaside resort was considered to have increased factors contributing to stress.
The market town of Chesterfield, didn't fare much better in the stress stakes with higher levels of anxiety and lower than average life satisfaction. The median wage in Chesterfield is also £432, which is £80 lower than the average in England at £512.
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Then, despite Hull having the same levels of anxiety as Blackpool, and lower life satisfaction, the median weekly wage is slightly higher and people in Hull are, on average, more active, making this area the third most stressed in the UK.
The key factor here could be that 75% of people in this city have never worked from home and this may negatively impact the residents – after all, not commuting to work can lead to a better work-life balance and a perceived improvement in mental wellbeing.
Coming in fourth, fifth and sixth spot on the stress index were Sunderland, Thanet in Kent and Carlisle in Cumbria, while Lincoln, Hartlepool, Manchester and Mansfield make up the remainder of the top 10.
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Commenting on the results a spokesperson from the Abbeycarefoundation.com said: “Modern life has become fast-paced, expensive and often complicated. These additional stressors can have many adverse impacts on our mental and physical health. Reports have shown that increased stress can cause many people to smoke, drink and take less care of their bodies. Therefore, it's important to manage our stress wherever possible to improve overall quality of life.
"The research shows a clear correlation of how location, job and personal health can impact mental and physical health. Those with higher wages and better work-life balances will often feel less stress due to having more free time to spend with friends and family, and the ability to also engage in hobbies that they enjoy and find pleasure in outside of their career."
Thankfully there are some ways to feel somewhat calm in an increasingly stressful world.
Be more mindful
When it comes trying to relieve feelings of anxiousness it can help to bring ourselves into the moment and to de-stimulate our nervous system.
"Utilising our breath, and literally taking a moment to breathe slowly and deeply can help to centre us, reduce physical distress and give us the space to focus," explains Lee Chambers, psychologist and wellbeing consultant.
When the weather is grim, the last thing you might want to do is head outside, but simply going outdoors can have benefits for both your mental and physical health and help you to feel less overwrought.
"Taking a brisk walk around the block can give us headspace and get our blood flowing so we can process things more clearly," Chambers adds.
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Cut yourself some slack
Being kind and compassionate to ourselves is vital. "Planning in some simple self-care can re-energise and balance us and help us to see the things to be grateful for, rather than what might have gone wrong or potentially happen," Chambers suggests.
Journal yourself calmer
Chambers says journaling thoughts and feelings can be a great way to get clarity and express negative emotions in a healthy way. "It also allows you to see on paper precisely what might be eating away at you, and give you an element of power to address and prepare for that event," he adds.
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Have a calm-down plan
According to Natalie Costa, founder of Power Thoughts and confidence coach, deep belly breaths help lower cortisol, trigger the rest-and-digest response and help calm the nervous system.
"Simply breathing in for a count of three and out for five, really slowly and repeating a few times will start to help," she explains.
Breathe through the stress
Kristy Lomas, meditation teacher and founder of The Ki Retreat agrees that deep-breathing exercises have the ability to calm the nervous system, reducing the likelihood of anxiety.
"Deep breathing helps you to avoid the fight or flight response," she says.
Try this breathing exercise to help:
1. Find a place free from distraction. This could be a place in the house, or even a toilet cubicle in work.
2. If you're unable to lie down, simply sit and relax the body.
3. Place one hand on your stomach and another on your chest. Inhale, taking a deep breath from your stomach. You should feel the hand on your stomach move, and not your chest. Breathe in for a count of three.
4. Hold the breath for short pause
5. Release the breath for a count of four. As you exhale, imagine that you are releasing all stress and tension from the body. If you wish, you can imagine saying a mantra, such as "Calm" as you exhale.
She also had a second exercise to bring rapid relief to a racing mind.
"Another quick tip for helping calm your mind is the 5-4-3-2-1 method," Lomas adds.
"Bring awareness back to your body and the present by simply thinking of and naming:
Five things you can see
Four things you can touch
Three things you can hear
Two things you can smell and...
One thing you can taste."
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Perform a 'brain dump'
Another top tip for helping to manage life overwhelm, according to Lomas, is to carry out a "brain dump".
"A brain dump can help release some of the mental pressure by creating a bullet point list of everything that's on your mind," she explains. "This may be things we need to do, worries or things completely unrelated."