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Do You Live in One of America’s Most Stressful Cities?


Stress has been called America’s number one health problem. Not only does it interfere with your immune system, making you vulnerable to illnesses like the flu, it impairs your body's ability to respond to its anti-inflammatory signals, putting you at an increased risk of allergies, autoimmune diseases and heart disease.

Serious stress, of course, is extremely widespread … felt by every one of us on a nearly daily basis.

And yet, it’s hard to imagine being overly stressed if you’re gazing out at a tropical beach with a tranquil blue sea behind it, tucking your toes into the soft warm sand. Likewise if you’re frolicking through a grassy meadow, gazing at a late summer night sky or sitting on the edge of a gentle brook, as a fawn leans down to take a sip of the clear bubbling water.

Ah yes, your location can and does have an impact on your stress levels, but unfortunately it’s not always in a good way.

After examining quality of life factors, including population density, unemployment rates, housing prices, air quality, sunny days per year and cost of living, Forbes has identified the most stressful cities in the United States (out of the 40 largest metro areas) -- and if you’re lucky you do not live in one of them.

The 10 Most Stressful Cities in America

  1. Chicago, IL: An 11 percent unemployment rate, second-worst air quality in the country and a high population density.

  1. Los Angeles, CA: Very high population density and cost of living.

  1. New York, NY: Earned the number one spot for both cost of living and population density and was the fifth-worst for air quality.

  1. Cleveland, OH: Ranked high for population density, home price drops and unemployment rate, with few sunny days to make up for it.

  2. Providence, RI (actually tied for fourth place): An unemployment rate of 12%, relatively high cost of living and population density.

  1. San Francisco, CA: A whopping year-over-year median home price drop of 43% coupled with a very high cost of living (the second highest overall).

  1. Detroit, MI: A very high unemployment rate of 17%, high population density and a relatively low number of sunny days.

  1. Boston, MA: High cost of living and a high population density.

  1. Washington, DC: Low air quality coupled with a high cost of living.

  1. San Jose, CA: Year-over-year median home prices were 42% and the city has a high 12% unemployment rate with a very high cost of living.

Of course, even these most stressful cities have their saving graces. San Francisco, for instance, has sunny weather and fabulous air quality, while New York City’s unemployment rate is below the national average at 8.8 percent in June. Boston and Washington, DC also have lower unemployment rates (8.3% and 6.6% in June, respectively).

The fact of the matter is, you can be stressed out in any city … but you can also be calm and serene if you play your cards right. And fortunately, in this case playing your cards right is much more about knowledge and choices than it is about luck.

How to Live a Stress-Free Life No Matter Where You Are

When you're feeling anxious and harried, it can be hard to shift gears into relaxation mode. Sometimes it takes a bit of a push to get your mind and body to really calm down, and that's why the staff at Sixwise loves the CD Pure Relaxation: Guided Meditations for Body, Mind & Spirit.

In it Mary Maddux, a leading meditation expert, has captured the essence of everything she's learned over the years about how to help people relax effortlessly.

Relax and Sleep Easy With the Premier Guided Meditation Music CDs

relaxation cdPure Relaxation CD

The Pure Relaxation CD will calm your mind, soothe your emotions and create a state of deep relaxation in your body. These meditations are unique in that they guide the listener to relax in a natural, effortless way.

sleep cdSleep Easy CD

If stress is keeping you up at night, the Sleep Easy CD -- with music by a renowned meditation music composer with 20 years experience -- will help you find deep rest and sleep. Users have reported falling asleep faster, waking up less throughout the night, falling back to sleep faster when awakened during the night and feeling more rested the next morning.

Learn more about the Pure Relaxation and Sleep Easy CDs, and their special combo price and FREE SHIPPING, now!

How to Protect and Manage Your Personal Data in 50 Simple Steps

It's not a series of instructions giving you yet another thing to do. Instead the guided meditations on the Pure Relaxation CD help you to let go of effort, invoking your body's natural relaxation response.

Mary's voice-guided relaxations are accompanied by relaxing, soothing music thanks to her husband, Richard, who specializes in music for relaxation. It's designed to be an ideal tool for stress reduction, and using it repeatedly helps to develop a "relaxation habit" so that you find yourself automatically relaxing during the day.

The Pure Relaxation CD also makes a great gift for friends and family who need some help unwinding, and for a limited time you can get free shipping to anywhere in the world.

Mary also recommends you add these five stress-reduction strategies to your relaxation arsenal so that no matter where you live, you can still find it a peaceful place to relax.

1. Stop and "Do Nothing"

Take "mini relaxation breaks" by stopping and doing nothing from time to time.

Give yourself room to "simply be."

Rest is the basis of activity, and those pauses to rest will help you "reset." One woman once confessed that when she got home from work, she liked to "sit and stare at the wall." She thought there was something wrong with her, but I assured her it was her body and mind telling her she needed some complete "down time."

2. Take a Deep Breath

"Take a deep breath" has become a cliché -- you hear it on sitcoms, in conversations, everywhere -- and for good reason. It helps!

3. Observe the Natural Flow of Your Breath

This is perhaps the easiest way to relax with the breath. Take a break and simply bring your attention to your breathing. Notice how the breath moves in and out, how it feels, how your body moves as you breathe.

Take time to become aware of all the details of the experience of breathing. Not only does this remind you to breathe (it's common to have shallow breathing in response to stress), but it can be comforting to connect with this natural rhythm of life. (It's a lot like watching the waves washing in and out at the ocean.)

4. Lie Down and Rest

Even five minutes of lying down can be refreshing. Don't mind if you feel restless and your mind keeps coming up with reasons to get up.

When you've been revving up the engine on a car, it takes a while for it to come to idle when you take your foot off the pedal. It can be like that when we take time to relax -- we need to let the body and mind gradually unwind.

5. Stretch and Exercise for Your Mind and Body

Simple stretching can do wonders. If you sit at a computer or do any work that causes you to remain in the same position for long periods of time, it is highly stressful. Stretch your arms and legs, bring your attention to your body and notice how it wants to move naturally. Watch little children before they've been trained to "sit still."

It's natural to move and the body loves it!

It takes just 15 to 20 minutes of stretching a day to experience the beneficial effects. And while there are countless stretches out there, it takes just 15 of them to stretch 95 percent of your body, according to Jacques Gauthier, a top stretching expert. Gauthier's highly recommended Stretching Toward a Healthier Life DVD shows you all 15 of these most effective stretching exercises, and the full program takes just 15 to 20 minutes a day.

You will also want to include a form of physical activity that addresses your mind-body connection, and we are extremely excited to introduce for you a one-of-a-kind fitness program called SheaNetics.

SheaNetics is a unique fitness and self-help philosophy dedicated to providing you with life-improving ideas and the inspirational motivation needed to achieve complete well-being, no matter where you live. You can find out more and view an introductory video at

Recommended Reading

Some Startling Stress and Anxiety Statistics and What You Can Do to Eliminate Your High-Stress

It's Time to Relax: 15 Quick Tips to Help You Shift Your Gears to Relax Mode Quickly

Sources August 20, 2009

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