South-east is most affluent, but miserable and stressed

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The Independent Online

People living in the South-east might generally be more affluent. But they are also more stressed and miserable than people in any other parts of the UK, a survey by YouGov has found.

By contrast, those in the South-west, including Devon and Cornwall, are the happiest.

Only 28 per cent of people from the South-east, including counties such as Surrey and Kent, considered themselves "very happy" in their lives. And 22 per cent of people living in the region said they were "not very happy" in their work.

Phillip Hodson, a fellow of the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy, suggested that life in the South-west was less materialistic than in the rest of the country. Mr Hodson, who bought a house in Cornwall 12 years ago, said: "People are inspired by the scenery, the sea and the light. The air is clean and fresh, crime levels are low and there is an easy-going tolerance to the region.

"The South-east is a more money-focused world. While not having money creates problems, having money itself generates worries about losing it, what to do about it, how to look after it."

More than 2,500 people were asked questions on happiness, home life, work life, stress levels and work-life balance.

All agreed that access to open spaces and the countryside was the most important factor to personal well-being.

The West Midlands scored the highest for levels of happiness at work and the lowest levels of stress. But the work-life balance rated poorly.

The South-east appears bottom of the index largely due to low scores for happiness at home, happiness at work and for having the highest stress levels.

London, which has the highest income per head in the UK, occupied a mid-table position for well-being.

David Lewis, a psychologist, said: "The study shows the symbiotic relationship between happiness and work-life balance in ensuring a high level of well-being. Both must be present to a reasonable degree for someone to feel in control of their life. And it is only by being in control that stress levels can be kept low and the sense of well-being maintained."