These Are the Most and Least Stressful Cities to Live In, According to a New Study

None of the 20 least stressful cities are in the U.S.

The pursuit of a less stressful life has led to people to search for more nature walks, CBD clothing, and even a stress vaccine. But perhaps it can come down to the environment where you live.

According to the The Least and Most Stressful Cities Index 2021 released this month, Reykjavik, Iceland, earned the top spot as the least stressful city around the world, followed by Bern, Switzerland, and Helsinki, Finland. For the study commissioned by the CBD and hemp brand Vaay, researchers looked at 15 stress indicators, including safety, unemployment rate, weather, gender equality, and health access, in 500 global cities before narrowing it down to to the top 100 with the most reliable data.

Rounding out the top 10 least stressful cities are Wellington, New Zealand; Melbourne, Australia; Oslo, Norway; Copenhagen, Denmark; Innsbruck, Austria; Hanover, Germany; and Graz, Austria. The least stressful U.S. city was Houston, coming in at 25, with Seattle at 39, Chicago at 40, Boston at 43, Miami at 44, Los Angeles at 45, and Washington at 47.

On the other end of the scale, Mumbai, India, was the most stressed city, followed by Lagos, Nigeria, and Manila, Philippines. Others on bottom were New Delhi, India; Baghdad, Iraq; Kabul, Afghanistan; Moscow, Russia; Karachi, Pakistan; Jakarta, Indonesia; and Kiev, Ukraine.

Elevated view across Reykjavik, Capital Region, Iceland
Harald Nachtmann/Getty Images

"Our objective with this study is to show what cities can achieve for their citizens through effective governance, robust environmental policies, and well-resourced social welfare systems," Vaay cofounder Finn Age Hänsel said in a statement. "The aim is not to single out the cities which may lag behind in any of these areas, but rather highlight those which are leading examples of what can be done to improve the well-being of their inhabitants."

Breaking down some of the individual categories within the study, Reykjavik also snagged the top spot for gender equality and least air and noise pollution, while Doha was the best for safety and security; Oslo for healthcare access; and Bern for least financial stress.

As part of the indicators, COVID-19 Response Stress Impact was also considered, with Tokyo having the best response that caused the least stress for its citizens. Among its actions leading up to hosting the Olympics this summer were a 17-day state of emergency in the spring and mass vaccination centers that opened in May.

Other indexes have also shown indication of stressfulness in cities in other ways, like the World Happiness Report, which has called Finland the happiest country for four years running.

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