Stress – a concept that is today woven into the average working day of the vast majority of employees, regardless of their job positions and responsibilities. Although it represents a mechanism inherited from our distant ancestors for dealing with dangers, the dangers they faced and those that cause stress today have very few contact points. How many of us worry that stress might eat us alive, no metaphor? The stress we feel today is much different and, unfortunately, more consistent over time.
According to a recent survey conducted by the American Psychological Association (APA), more than one-third (36%) of employees feel that they are constantly under tension or stress during their working days, while 20% say that their average working day is saturated with stress to the level 8 or 9, on a scale of 10.
A Survival Mechanism Working Against Us?
“One of the differences between our ancestors and us is that we still, on the mental and emotional level, live as if the tiger that poses a danger to us is constantly present. This can cause our nervous system to be constantly on alert,” says Karen Sorters, a San Diego-based stress reduction expert.
Soters is not surprised that most employees feel stressed. She points out that the ubiquitous degree of uncertainty employees feel in their workplaces due to turbulent economic conditions exponentially increases the level of “stress”.
“Office” And “Field” Stress
When it comes to jobs, not every job carries the same level of stress. Many environmental factors are incomparable to each other – like a soldier protecting his base, a policeman chasing a thief, or a firefighter running into a burning building. In the list of the most stressful jobs in 2012 by “Jobs Rated”, all three listed professions have their place.
“Being in the military is physically and mentally demanding and can be extremely stressful, especially in combat,” said one professional soldier who withheld his real name to protect privacy. “Although military service is quite stressful, it has some good sides. We have guaranteed pay and health insurance, plus 30 days of paid vacation to help us deal with the stress of combat.”
Of course, stress is in the minds of those who experience it, which does not diminish its harmful effects and consequences. “Compared to soldiers, police officers, firefighters, there aren’t many jobs that are quite as stressful,” said Stratis Zervos, an award-winning photojournalist. “My job is not stressful on a daily basis. It can be an individual story, depending on the circumstances and whom you are taking photos of, but a large part of the job is not as stressful as other jobs are. It’s exciting and fun every day!”
Here are the top 20 most stressful jobs in the world:
1. Professional Soldier
There is an extensive list of duties a professional soldier undertakes in his workplace. From serving food in the canteen to fighting in the front lines to avoiding land mines, a soldier’s duties vary widely, and each carries a different level of responsibility and challenge. Taken as a whole, the professional soldier is the most stressful profession when you take into account the factors of exposure to danger, the expected level of mental and physical fitness, as well as the respect for strict hierarchy and other specifics of military life.
Doctors’ profession requires “building” a defensive “wall” which necessarily includes indifference and cynicism because they face suffering, pain, and death daily. That is why many doctors have an unusual sense, which is a defense mechanism that the psyche has created to become resistant to stress and fear. The habit of hiding emotions and treating every situation calmly eventually becomes an obstacle to emotional commitment and the absence of the desire to share everyday worries, problems, and happiness with a partner. Doctors are used to always being physically and mentally ready to help others, but this also affects their private life.
Whether entering a burning building to save lives or controlling flaming elements on roads or other areas, firefighters often risk their own lives to save others. The high degree of real danger mixed with making life-important decisions places them in second place on the list of the most stressful jobs for 2012.
Educators go through a training to control large groups of children, which is why they become very strict at home. The characteristics to observe in teachers are most often authoritarianism, conservatism, the tendency to monologue, and adherence to established forms. If a person works with children every day, all day, after some period of time he will start to treat adults and close people like children – he will give advice, feel the need to be prepared for everything, and always have to explain everything ten times.
The pressure to which commercial flight pilots are exposed is not insignificant. Not only do they have to guarantee the safety of their passengers, but they also have to make sure that flights start and end on schedule, even when weather conditions threaten to sabotage the agenda. Frequent overtime hours and routes that often require transfers in various cities around the world lead not only to stress caused by the nature of the job, but frequent changes in time zones also contribute to this.
5. Military Commander
A military commander is a high-ranking position within the service of armed units. They command troops during military training, but also in combat. The complex and dangerous nature of their job, and the inevitability of making life-important decisions for their troops, make them one of the most stressful jobs in general. In addition, one should not ignore all the specific factors of military service, with additional, “leadership” stress: military commanders manage their troops and are responsible for their results.
Police officers are obliged to provide citizens with the necessary protection against crime, and also participate in investigations of criminal activities. Their work is public, often full of crime prevention and education activities, as well as a quick response in case of serious accidents and dangers. They are a constant target of criminals, which makes this profession extremely stressful.
Only mentally strong people can do this job because being a lawyer involves a lot of daily pressure. Talking about problems is not common among lawyers, so they rarely seek help and support, which can lead to depression. A successful career as a lawyer requires a sharpened ability to foresee all negative consequences for the client, which is why they mostly begin to look at the world negatively and look for the bad in everything, so their psyche changes. In addition, lawyers are among the hardest-working professions, so they are often overtired and hide health problems.
People often decide to study psychology to discover how to deal with themselves. They analyze other people’s problems and try to find their roots. Psychologists become emotionally exhausted over time because they constantly need to listen and understand other people’s suffering and issues. Every professional in this field knows that the well-being of his client depends on his actions, and such great responsibility is very stressful and causes the fear of making a fatal mistake.
Architects are known as workaholics, who often joke about their appearance, which is often unsightly due to fatigue. Staying in the office until late, working even on days off, and lack of sleep often seriously damage their health. An architect’s friends are usually architects themselves because other people are generally not interested in them. They are under constant emotional tension, great responsibility, stress, frequent conflicts with clients, creative crises, and often delusions about their greatness end up driving them into depression very often.
10. Event Coordinator
The event coordinator is responsible for planning all activities and logistics related to the events he is in charge of. Although they can organize many events throughout the year, some can be once-in-a-lifetime opportunities for the people participating. Therefore, such events are usually closely followed by the public, and all the organizational abilities of the person in charge are under scrutiny.
11. PR Manager
Employees in executive public relations positions are responsible for creating and maintaining a positive image of companies, non-profits, and government agencies in the eyes of the public. They usually give presentations and speak in front of many people and media representatives. That is a highly competitive field, and the work involves very short deadlines, meaning that specialists of this type are often under a lot of long-term stress. Some men are obliged to communicate with potentially aggressive media representatives, especially after accidents or events closely followed by the public.
12. Executive Director (Senior)
CEOs’ profession requires formulating rules and strategies for their companies while also managing the processes that are part of the strategy. People often expect them to have comprehensive knowledge in many areas – simultaneously! Directors face decisions that can affect the entire company, meaning they can have (and do have) an impact on the lives of a large number of employees.
Photojournalists record their stories through the lens of a camera. They often find themselves in dangerous situations to succeed in getting their stories, with some of these situations being fires and battlefields. External danger, tight deadlines, and the potential disobedience of technology are factors that make this job stressful.
14. Taxi Driver
Driving in a city that is overcrowded with vehicles, traffic jams and the chaos that comes with rush hour, the job of a taxi driver is quite far from the idea of it being a light job in which you only need to pick up passengers and drop them off at the desired location. Taxi drivers are the first target of many criminals and are paid minimally for their overtime work.
A very social person with strong self-discipline can become a successful freelancer – It’s a person who works on projects from home, creates his working hours, and can work on several jobs at once. But unstable and uncertain income and isolation from society while working all day at the computer can cause great insecurity. For freelancers, home is also an office, so there is no chance to separate private from the business. Undetermined working hours and constantly thinking about work hurt the psyche of a person, so it is important for freelancers to change the interior often and to relax emotionally.
It is difficult for people who work in this business to separate their business life from their private life because they are constantly concentrating on numbers. Over time, years of monotonous work take their toll, they become very boring but pretentious. Accountants are obsessed with order – everything must be in its place and completed by a certain deadline. They plan the family budget very carefully, and the whole house must always be clean, which is why they become “grunts” who annoy the environment.
Many people believe that serving drinks and hanging around at bars while being paid aren’t even actual jobs. But the reality is that it may be stressful due to the extra strain of inebriated clients insisting on being served first, being on your feet for long period, and to having commute home late at night.
18. IT Manager
Although many people appear to assume that IT professionals have it easy, managing all of the company’s IT operations may be very demanding, especially if there are any errors and the system as a whole fails. In this capacity, you’ll need to swiftly develop your leadership abilities and be able to think on your feet and come up with quick, effective answers – and this may be stressful, to say the least.
19. Social Worker
When the workday begins, social workers never know what challenges they may encounter. Depending on their field of employment, they might care for persons who are old, children or unwell, or have mental health difficulties. Long hours and late nights might be detrimental to their personal lives and health, but the thrill of changing someone’s life can make all the stress worthwhile.
20. 911 Dispatcher
Responding to 911 calls, as well as communicating with police and other emergency responders, is the responsibility of dispatchers. The work is stressful, and it requires cool composure to direct the caller through their next actions. Meanwhile, some calls may be upsetting.
Some jobs require handling delicate activities where even a small error might have serious repercussions. For instance, while a patrol officer’s job may appear straightforward at first appearance, poor calculation or judgment might increase the likelihood of a traffic accident. Other professions that entail delicate work and intense concentration include those of doctors, chemists, and accountants. This can make those positions unpleasant because they require a lot of mental effort.
It’s reasonable to argue that all these vocations have increased stress aspects, but their advantages significantly exceed the downsides. That being said, regardless of your line of work, you should get professional treatment if you are showing extreme indications of stress and are having problems with your mental health.
Some occupations are demanding because they call for challenging duties. For example, occupations like investing, law, and finance demand extensive hours of research and analysis of hard issues. Many of these positions also have stringent educational and training requirements. These tasks are particularly difficult since they require a lot of mental effort.
Although we can’t completely avoid stress, we can influence how we react to it. Stress is a fact of life. Avoid unhealthy coping strategies like turning to junk food or alcohol to quell anxiety. Exercise or engage in whatever activity makes you feel relaxed, such as doing a crossword puzzle or spending time with loved ones. If complaining to someone about your job makes you feel better, do it. The secret is to find peaceful things to partake in; look into artistic, social, or physical outlets.