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Hey Iowa, Nice Job Being a ‘Least-Stressed’ State!

More and more often, other states are catching on to the great things we have going on in the Hawkeye State1! Our state and communities continue to receive many national accolades from various publications, many of which are quite flattering, such as:

A recent national benchmark ranking, coming from WalletHub, suggests that Iowa is the fourth LEAST-stressed state when compared to all other states (including the District of Columbia). Iowa’s placement follows only (in order), Minnesota, North Dakota and Utah. For comparison purposes, Iowa was the third least-stressed state in 2017 (Minnesota and North Dakota were No. #1 and No. #2, respectively). There appears to be something magical about the upper Midwest.

To determine the rankings, WalletHub compared the 50 states (and D.C.) across four dimensions (and 38 relevant metrics). The four dimensions were:

  1. Work-related stress (7 metrics)
  2. Money-related stress (10 metrics)
  3. Family-related stress (6 metrics)
  4. Health- & safety-related stress (15 metrics)

As we know, stress is related to both external and internal factors that affect each of us. Sometimes we are unaware of how stress can impact our health. External factors may include our job, relationships with others, our home, other physical environmental situations, challenges, difficulties, and expectations we are confronted with on a daily basis. How we respond to, and deal with, the external stress-inducing factors affects our nutritional status, emotional well-being, overall health and fitness levels, and the amount of sleep we get. Each of us deal with stress differently, but if we are not careful, it can wreak havoc on our personal (and professional) lives.

For each of the four dimensions mentioned above, the state of Iowa ranked as having the 16th least work-related stress, sixth least money-related stress, fifth least family-related stress, and third least health- & safety-related stress. Metrics that relate to the work-related dimension, the lowest scoring of the four dimensions, include:

  • Average hours worked per week
  • Average commute time
  • Average leisure time spent per day
  • Job security
  • Unemployment rate
  • Underemployment rate
  • Income growth rate

The economy can have a big influence on this particular dimension. Iowa has a very low unemployment rate (2.9% in 2017), a factor that causes employers to struggle with finding qualified workers in jobs difficult to fill. According to the Iowa Workforce Development, the weekly wage increase in 2016 was below two percent (2017 data will be available very soon), showing that wages are depressed.

Iowa Healthiest State Initiative

To help Iowa avoid resting on its’ laurels, a wonderful ‘movement’ occurring in Iowa is the Iowa Healthiest State Initiative (HSI). Executive Director Jami Haberl, and her team are working to make a meaningful difference in how Iowa communities and employers can improve the daily lives of how we live, work and play. One HSI approach attempts to address the stresses we face in our environments, and will annually monitor this stress through our resiliency. Resiliency is an often-used term that describes the ability to overcome challenges of all kinds – such as trauma, tragedy, personal crises, everyday problems – and our ability to bounce back stronger, wiser and healthier. If you are not aware of the HSI resources, please check them out here.

Receiving national accolades are wonderful, but these don’t just happen out of sheer luck. It takes hard (and smart!) work and perseverance, coupled with the belief that implementing new initiatives and approaches to positively impact our communities and those living in it will be best for all of Iowa. 

As the saying goes, “Prepare and prevent, not repair and repent.”

Let’s keep it up, Iowa!

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1Sorry Cyclone fans, but the official state nickname for Iowa is ‘The Hawkeye State.’  Honestly, I’m trying to be as impartial as possible!

Giving to Others May Impact Your Health!

Make A Difference in Your CommunityA blog I wrote last February, ‘100+ Men – A Creative Community Effort,’ discussed a Des Moines-based program, 100+ Men on a Mission, which was founded to help make charitable contributions to cash-starved community organizations. The sense of fulfillment for all who participate is quite profound.

A recently published study substantiates how donating to charity and helping others may actually improve the physical and emotional well-being of the giver. The Journal of Economic Psychology’s report also suggests that increases in charitable tax subsidies may actually spur the behavior of giving and ultimately improve one’s perceptions of his/her own health.

To embrace this concept of giving throughout the state, perhaps representatives from the Healthiest State Initiative and the Blue Zones Project might consider recruiting 100+ Men and 100+ Women to help develop opportunities for other Iowa communities. It’s certainly something to think about…

Imagine giving back to others and feeling good (and healthy!) about making a difference. This is a win-win proposition for all Iowans!

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100+ Men – A Creative Community Effort

Local Charities - 100+ MenThe power of numbers can be inspiring! Making a difference in your community can be so simple yet fulfilling – just look at 100+ Men on a Mission!

Two years ago I was invited to attend a ‘kick-off’ meeting for 100+ Men on a Mission, a Des Moines-based organization started primarily by Mike Schneider, a long-time friend. From this initial event, I was hooked on the great impact that a seemingly disparate number of individuals can do in just one community. About $40k is raised annually for local charities.

THIS IS HOW 100+ MEN ON A MISSION WORKS*:

  • Each member must commit to donating $100 per meeting ($400 per year). 
  • The donations will be given to Des Moines Metro charities/non-profits/worthy causes serving the Des Moines area only. No national charities will be considered.
  • The purpose is for the contribution to stay 100% in the community.
  • Each charity/non-profit/worthy cause that is under consideration will be given five minutes to make a presentation at the meeting by a member of the 100+ MEN ON A MISSION, not by the charity/non-profit/worthy cause.
  • Three charities/non-profits/worthy causes will be presented at the meeting. The group will vote by ballot and majority rules. Although it may not be your first choice, you are still obligated to donate.
  • If your name is drawn and you make a presentation and your charity is not chosen, you will still be eligible to put your name in the drawing at the next meeting.
  • For tax purposes, all checks will be made out to the chosen organization. If you are unable to attend, give your check to a member to deliver on your behalf.\
  • The charity/non-profit/worthy cause must agree to NOT use the donors’ names for future solicitations or give the information out to the public. If the charity/non-profit/worthy cause does not adhere to this condition, they will be removed from any future consideration.

*Taken from the 100+ Men on a Mission website

By helping a segment of our community that, in many cases, we never knew existed, we receive a personal sense of fulfillment. The process of 100+ Men is both simple and very rewarding for all who are touched by this ‘organic’ philanthropic collection of individuals.

In previous blogs, I have discussed the Healthiest State Initiative and the Blue Zones Project. Perhaps through these initiatives, Iowa should consider embracing the 100+ Men concept. What a great way to make a difference statewide! And, it does not have to stop with men. Des Moines also has a 100+ Women organization. In addition, employees from various companies are stepping up and embracing random acts of kindness within their own organizations.

Philanthropic creativity can be quite powerful within our communities. Don’t miss your opportunity to make a difference!

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