NEW YORK (MainStreet) – An outbreak of tornadoes that killed more than 300 people in late April was the source of the most stressful day of 2011, according to year-end data from Gallup.
The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index polls Americans on a daily basis on various health-related topics, among them their levels of stress. By asking various questions related to levels of happiness and stress, the organization is able to determine a “mood index” – the percentage of people who have a lot of stress and very little happiness, as well as the percentage who are happy and have little stress.
Using this methodology, the Index was able to determine that the most stressful day of 2011 was April 27, which fell during an outbreak of tornadoes in the southeastern U.S. that killed hundreds of people and left many more homeless. On that day, 16% of Americans reported that they had a lot of stress and very little enjoyment.
Coming in at a close second was April 15, which many will recognize as Tax Day (though taxes were actually due on April 18, 2011, due to a holiday in D.C.). Close behind were a few dates associated with such international events as the Japanese tsunami and the unrest in Egypt, though it’s unclear how much these events really contributed to stress levels in the U.S.
On the flipside, the happiest days of the year were all linked to major holidays, which according to Gallup is usually the case. Two-thirds of Americans reported being happy and unstressed on Christmas and Thanksgiving, with similar happiness levels reported on Easter, Independence Day, New Year’s Day and the day after Christmas.
On the whole, stress levels for 2011 were about in line with averages for the past few years, with an average of 11% Americans reporting high stress on a daily basis and about half of Americans reporting high levels of happiness on any given day.