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People were not living their best lives in 2017, well-being report shows

USA TODAY logo USA TODAY 2/13/2018 Ashley May
a hand holding a pink dress: Nearly half of states saw their well-being scores decline from 2016 to 2017 in the most recent Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index. © baona, Getty Images/iStockphoto Nearly half of states saw their well-being scores decline from 2016 to 2017 in the most recent Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index.

If you thought 2017 was a bad year, you weren't the only one.

Nearly half of the states in the U.S. saw their scores decline and zero states saw a significant improvement in well-being from 2016 to 2017, according to the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index released Tuesday. 

The annual index ranks well-being based on five elements: Purpose (liking what you do and going after goals), social (having supportive relationships and love), financial (economic life reduces stress and increases security), community (liking where you live) and physical (having good health and energy). Results, which are based on telephone interviews with more than 160,400 adults, dropped to the largest year-over-year decline in the Well-Being Index's 10-year history. 

It was "a rotten year for wellbeing for America," said Dan Witters, Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index research director.

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West Virginia residents reported the lowest levels of well-being in 2017 for the ninth consecutive year and Louisiana came in right behind, falling to its lowest rank ever at No. 49. 

States that were historically high and low in the past fell, including Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Oregon, Arizona, Washington, California, Mississippi, Arkansas, South Carolina, Georgia, Texas, North Carolina, Florida, Maine, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Missouri and Ohio. 

Witters said elements that declined the most were purpose and social. People reported more worry, little interest in doing things, depression symptoms and perceiving less "positive energy" from family and friends. Less people reported having a leader in their lives who makes them "enthusiastic about the future." There was also a decline in people who said they are reaching their goals and happy with their standard of living. 

Researchers took caution aligning results with the presidential election, but they do believe it played a role, Witters said. 

The report is meant to be a call to action for leaders to improve the quality of life for their residents, Witters said. The best practices of high-ranking states include fostering holistic lifestyles, creating an active living environment, creating a workforce that meets employee needs, and measuring and identifying growth opportunities.

South Dakota and Vermont took the top two spots on the list. South Dakota was in the top five for financial and community well-being. Vermont residents scored highest in community and physical well-being, but also ranked among the top states for social and financial well-being, according to the report. 

See the complete report on the Well-Being Index website

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