It's official. If you live within the delivery area of this column, you can relax, unwind, calm down, chill out. After all, this is the Provo-Orem area - a.k.a. low-stress city.
That's the word from Psychology Today magazine, that is, if you believe low stress is synonymous with psychological well-being. According to an article in November's issue, the Provo-Orem area placed eighth out of 286 metropolitan areas in terms of psychological salubriousness. Findings for the rankings were based on rates of crime, suicide, alcoholism and divorce.The ranking vaulted local residents from the pages of obscurity to the editorial section of Saturday's Deseret News to be named winners in "The winners and the losers" column.
Even local municipal leaders got on the bandwagon, after the article's results were announced, to remind us all that Brigham Young apparently was off by just one valley to the north when making his famous "right place" declaration. (Salt Lake, by the way ranked 201st.) The Utah County Travel Council, undoubtedly, has already set the promotional wheel in motion to tout the area's low-stress lifestyle in an effort to boost tourism.
I can hear the slogans now: "Provo-Orem - A pretty, great state of mind" or "Provo-Orem: good time, great pace" or "We love to unwind, and it shows."
It will take more than an advertising slogan or national stress-rating study to convince the doubtful of the area's psychological sedateness. Had the Psychology Today article researchers talked with me, I'd have set them straight. Sure, Utah Valley's a nice place to live, but low stress? Hardly.
Ever tried to eat at a local family restaurant or find a seat in a movie theater? If so, you've likely discovered the small sources that generate most of the area's stress: kids. They're everywhere, thousands of them. Whatever the activity, if it's reasonably priced or family-oriented, you'll think you've barged in on the latest Osmond family reunion.
Second only to the number of children we have in the Provo-Orem area is the number of meetings and gatherings held annually, monthly, weekly, daily and hourly. Talk about stress.
Try keeping up with all the town meetings, business gatherings, Tupperware parties, family reunions, sports activities, political meetings, missionary reunions and educational gatherings. Not to mention church meetings. Top each gathering off with the requisite sugar-saturated refreshment, and you'll really tip the stress scales.
According to the Psychology Today article, Las Vegas and Reno, Nev., ranked as the worst areas. Gambling, presumably, played a part in the cities' low rankings. But keeping up on church offerings can easily be more costly and stressful than gambling, and a lot less fun.
Gone to a BYU football game the past couple years? The Cougars still manage to win quite a few, but if you're used to the good ol' days when WAC championships were a given, you're no doubt learning to live with the agony of defeat. Cougar fans used to prepare for games by stuffing their pockets with tortillas and bathroom tissue in anticipation of a victory celebration; now it's Ro-laids and Tums, just in case Wyoming shows up or Sean Covey gets dinged.
Add the fact that Orem's wells are beginning to dry up, Utah Valley air is becoming more and more polluted and the Miss BYU pageant is history, and you really have a recipe for stressful existence.
If that weren't enough, it's an election year.