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Balancing act: Survey: Utah residents are least 'emotionally recharged'

Little things in life often leave me stressed. But some news that popped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago has helped lower my stress levels. That's because a new survey seems to indicate that my emotional exhaustion is all about where I've lived.
Little things in life often leave me stressed. But some news that popped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago has helped lower my stress levels. That's because a new survey seems to indicate that my emotional exhaustion is all about where I've lived.
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Little things in life often leave me stressed and, as a result, emotionally exhausted.

In fact, I sometimes get stressed about being stressed. Not good.

Fortunately, some news that popped into my inbox a couple of weeks ago has helped lower my stress levels.

Based on this information, I'm choosing to believe that my stress isn't due to anything I can control. On the contrary, it's all about where I've lived for most of my life. And if it's not my fault, I can chill, right?

We'll see.

But back to that email. It came from a San Francisco-based company called Lantern that says it offers a "personalized program designed to help you achieve greater mind health across five key dimensions: stress and anxiety; sleep; mood; social life; and body image."

The company's press release said it surveyed 3,000 Americans between Dec. 26, 2014, and Jan. 9, 2015, to create the Lantern Emotional Balance Index. The index is meant to determine "how frequently respondents are taking action to renew, refresh and recharge their emotional well-being."

The survey breaks this all down by state. The most "emotionally recharged" states, the press release said, "have residents who regularly learn something new, share a moment of closeness with a loved one, have a meaningful conversation with a friend, do a good deed for someone else, or engage in other activities that help them truly rest, recharge and unwind."

That sounds awesome, right? And I'm sure we all try to do those kinds of things.

But if you're living in Utah, like I am, it would seem that you're not succeeding. That's because Utah is the least "emotionally recharged" state, according to the survey. Only 40 percent of our residents fall into that category, meaning they had engaged in an emotionally recharging activity within the past two weeks at the time they were surveyed.

I've been a Utah resident for more than 19 years, so I guess it's no surprise if I'm not fully "recharged." And when you consider that I grew up in South Dakota, you can see that I never really stood a chance. My home state is the fifth-least emotionally recharged area, with only 43 percent of residents hitting the mark.

So where do the emotionally balanced people live? According to the survey, New Hampshire is at the top of the list, with 75 percent of its residents classified as emotionally recharged. I guess that "Live Free or Die" motto keeps them going strong, although it's always seemed a bit threatening to me.

Second on the list is Indiana, with 73 percent of its residents emotionally recharged. It's followed by Louisiana at 71 percent, Kansas at 69 percent and Arkansas at 68 percent.

In addition to Utah and South Dakota, the least emotionally recharged states in the survey included Texas at 41 percent, Alaska with 42 percent and Arizona with 43 percent.

The big shock to me was Hawaii, which was the 14th-least emotionally recharged state, at 49 percent. I think I was probably more emotionally recharged while vacationing in Hawaii five years ago than I've been at any other time in my life, but I was just visiting paradise. Maybe it's different if you actually live there.

And all joking aside, I do question some of the results of this survey. The Utahns and South Dakotans I know spend time seemingly every day connecting with loved ones, serving others and learning new things. They also recharge by engaging in things like prayer or meditation, not to mention enjoying the natural beauty of the mountains or prairies, depending on the state.

But no matter what you think about the survey results, this all gets back to the goal of building a balanced life. I write each week about my ongoing measuring of time and commitment between work and home or family. I firmly believe those work-life balance goals are important.

And I should say that I do like what Lantern is trying to do. The company's press release said that it offers a free online assessment to evaluate a person's emotional well-being. Based on the results, you can hire a professional to guide you along a path to better balance.

I took the online quiz and discovered that the area in which I need the most work is — shockingly — "stress and anxiety." Like I didn't already know that.

I was a little surprised that it indicated I'm "strong" in the sleep category because I always feel tired. But I guess six hours of sleep each night really should be enough to get me through the day. I only wish it was eight ... or 10.

But I digress.

The bottom line is that we all need to recharge ourselves now and then. Thinking back on just the last couple of days in my life, I'm grateful that I had the opportunity to spend time with my children, go on a date with my wife, enjoy a meal with good friends, play basketball with guys from church, read part of a good book, attend church services and write this column.

These are the kinds of things that recharge me, and even though I remain a fairly stressed-out person, I can't imagine what my life would be like without such activities.

What do you think of this survey? Are you surprised by the states at the top and bottom of the list? How emotionally recharged are you, and how do keep that balance?

Leave a comment online or send me an email with your ideas, and I'll share some of them when I revisit this topic in the future.

Email your comments to kratzbalancingact@gmail.com or post them online at deseretnews.com. Follow me on Twitter at gkratzbalancing or on Facebook on my journalist page.