America’s Top 10 Most Stressed-Out Cities
How Stress Ages You

America’s Top 10 Most Stressed-Out Cities

Find out where residents battle the most stress.

1 / 12 How Stress Ages You

We all get stressed out from time to time. But if you constantly battle high levels of stress, it can make your RealAge up to 3.6 years older if you’re a man and 2.3 years older if you’re a woman. “There’s no doubt that increased stress is associated with a higher risk of heart disease, cancer and of death from all causes,” says Keith Roach, MD, Sharecare's chief medical officer and co-creator of the RealAge® Test. We asked RealAge Test takers to rate how much stress they have at home and work, how much financial stress they have and how many stressful life events they’ve had in the last year, to figure out the most stressed cities in America.

Find out how stress is affecting your RealAge.

10. Charlotte, NC

2 / 12 10. Charlotte, NC

Residents from The Queen City aren’t doing so well when it comes to stress. Despite being in the top 10 for happy marriages (which should provide stress relief!) Charlotte residents rank number 10 for being the most stressed out. Not being able to relax could contribute to the city’s high blood pressure problems. “High levels of stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisone, can cause abnormalities in heart rhythm and lead to hypertension,” says Dr. Roach. “Relieving stress can therefore help relieve high blood pressure.”

Related: Try this 12-step stress management plan.

9. Jacksonville, FL

3 / 12 9. Jacksonville, FL

A couple of factors in particular may contribute to residents’ chronic stress problems. Jacksonville is in the bottom 10 for income and for having health insurance. “Financial stress turns out to be a big issue, especially for women,” says Roach. “They are more likely to get a heart attack from being financially stressed than men.” Financial stress can also put you at risk for weight gain (think stress eating), diabetes and heart disease.

Related: Manage financial stress.

8. Tampa, FL

4 / 12 8. Tampa, FL

Tampa, the city with the fourth oldest RealAge, is the second spot in Florida to make our most-stressed list. Aside from also being one of the worst cities for insurance and income, Tampa residents have high rates of unemployment—another big cause of stress. How to cope? Besides getting exercise, eating a healthy diet and reaching out to your support network, “Realize that if you lose a job in this economy, it’s not necessarily a reflection of your abilities,” says Roach. “Recognizing this may make it easier to avoid potentially self-destructive behaviors, such as alcohol use, and reduce stress associated with being in-between jobs.”

Related: Give stress the soft touch.

7. Oklahoma City, OK

5 / 12 7. Oklahoma City, OK

You may be able to tell a lot about a city’s stress level by residents’ eating habits. OKC is a prime example: Too much red meat and too few fruits, vegetables and whole grains are on the menu for many residents here. “When we’re stressed we tend to make worse food choices,” says Roach. That’s because when stress hits, cortisol tells our brains that we’re hungry, so we reach for food—especially sugary, fatty foods. Sound like you sometimes? Mehmet Oz, MD, recommends keeping a food diary and trying proven ways to reduce stress, like meditation or yoga.

Related: Get more tips for dealing with emotional eating.

6. Memphis, TN

6 / 12 6. Memphis, TN

Memphis may have some great outlets for stress relief, like the Beale Street Music Festival and the World Champion Barbecue Cooking Contest, but the people in Bluff City can’t seem to manage their stress. According to RealAge data, they also have high blood pressure and don’t get enough exercise. Fortunately, residents here can improve all that pretty easily: regular exercise, like brisk walking and running, can lower high blood pressure and release tension.

Related: Start an exercise program.

5. Rochester, NY

7 / 12 5. Rochester, NY

Rochester, New York, takes the number five spot on our most-stressed cities list. While residents here have a lot of happy marriages and strong social networks—both of which can relieve stress—the women here are still the least optimistic in the country. According to Roach, the inability to have a sunny outlook on life is often a result of dealing with high levels of stress.

Related: Follow these tips to become more optimistic.

4. Providence, RI

8 / 12 4. Providence, RI

Providence residents do a lot to stay healthy. They don’t overdo the red meat, they manage their anger well and they have low rates of diabetes and high cholesterol. But this New England city has some of the highest stress levels in the country. Why? One reason could be that Providence has some of the lowest rates of happy marriages. “Marital status is for most people the most important social interaction,” says Roach. “If your marriage isn’t good, thatt causes more stress.”

Related: How to have a happy marriage.

3. Knoxville, TN

9 / 12 3. Knoxville, TN

Some of the factors that make Knoxville our current “oldest city in America”—including lack of exercise and sleep—contribute to the high stress levels here. “There’s a cause and effect relationship between stress and sleep,” says Roach. “If you have a sleep disorder that can increase your stress levels, and if you’re stressed it can affect your sleep.” Knoxville also has a high unemployment rate and poor income, meaning a double dose of financial stress.

Related: Sleep better in 9 steps.

2. Louisville, KY

10 / 12 2. Louisville, KY

Louisville is our second-oldest city in America, and the second-most stressed-out. It makes sense: Factors that increase Louisville residents’ RealAge also contribute to, or are reflective of, high levels of stress. Folks here tend to have high blood pressure and smoking rates, don’t get enough exercise, and also rank low for nutrition, optimism and income. Men in Louisville are also the angriest in the nation. According to Roach, men who are stressed are more likely to have temper issues.

Related: Control your temper with this anger-management plan.

1. Greenville, SC

11 / 12 1. Greenville, SC

When it comes to stress, Greenville residents are in the number one spot. Aside from being one of the worst cities for nutrition, blood pressure, smoking, cholesterol, sleep and exercise, one factor sets apart residents here—especially the women—from the others: high alcohol consumption. “Some people deal with stress by drinking more,” says Roach. “It doesn’t relieve the cause of the stress. It just helps you forget about it for a little while.” Maybe if residents leveraged their strong relationships (Greenville is number 4 for happy marriages and 17 for social networks) they might be able to relieve some of that chronic stress.

Related: Could you have a drinking problem?

America’s Top 10 Least Stressed-Out Cities

12 / 12 America’s Top 10 Least Stressed-Out Cities

When you manage stress well, you're doing your health a big favor—you can lower your RealAge by up to to 2.4 years if you're a man, and 1.1 years if you're a woman. These are the cities where people stress the least:

10. Austin, TX

9. Atlanta, GA

8. Denver, CO

7. Washington, DC

6. Milwaukee, WI

5. Grand Rapids, MI

4. San Diego, CA

3. San Francisco, CA

2. Raleigh, NC

1. Minneapolis, MN

Check out all of our Top Cities reports.