Did you know that 75% of employees think their job is more stressful than their parents’ jobs were?
You will be even more surprised that 14% of your colleagues felt like hitting a coworker at least once. If your company has 300 employees, then 42 of them have had such thoughts!
Applying for a job is considered extremely stressful by 40% of workers. This is a menacing perspective, and the bad news is that the statistics are comprehensive.
Work causes more mental health complaints today than relationships, personal finances, or family. And it is even worse for people with underlying anxiety.
This article approaches the problem from a series of directions to provide helpful recommendations and employment options:
- Are you a graduate student who is already stressed out after finals?
- Does looking for a job trigger your worst fears?
- Is your current job so stressful that you cannot sleep at night?
You will find an answer to your worries here.
Here’s a spoiler before we start:
Please keep in mind that there is no universal solution for all anxious people. Everyone is an individual, so consider your circumstances, likes, and triggers before making an important decision.
😰 Stress & Anxiety at the Workplace
We worry all the time:
- Will I hear my morning alarm after the party last night?
- Will they give me a raise if I ask for it?
- Will that person love me back?
A bit of stress presents us with challenges to make our lives a bit more exciting.
What happens if there is too much?
Medical professionals differentiate between “good,” “tolerable,” and “toxic” stress levels. Chronic stress can cause irreversible damage to the hippocampus, amygdala, and prefrontal cortex. In particular, alterations in the amygdala are associated with increased anxiety and PTSD-like symptoms.
So how do you know you have exceeded the limits of “good” and “tolerable” stress?
- You fail to meet deadlines.
- You take too long to complete a task that used to take much less time.
- You forget things all the time.
- You are unable to concentrate.
- You cannot focus on anything or are too immersed in your thoughts to live in the moment.
- You have lost your productivity.
- Your family relationships worsen.
- You experience chronic tension, headaches, pressure in the chest, dizziness, or upset stomach.
Anxiety can take multiple forms. But the following 3 disorders become the most problematic in the workplace. They can impede your career development or even prevent you from getting a job.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Do you remember that dizzying sensation when you hadn’t prepared for an exam, and its outcome could decide your future? Your heart was pounding, and your hands were shaking.
That’s how GAD feels, with the only exception that there is no exam.
GAD interferes with daily life and often makes it unbearable. The most stressful thing is that people with GAD feel anxious without any evident reason, i.e., the stress comes out of nowhere.
The symptoms below can last for months or even years and make a person chronically tired and irritated:
- Feeling restless or on edge
- Waking up already tired
- Losing the ability to concentrate
- Experiencing headaches, muscle aches, or other unexplained pains
- Having an upset stomach
- Experiencing sleep problems, like difficulty falling asleep or regularly waking up during the night
Worst job choice: Personal assistant, project manager, or client manager.
These jobs have unpredictable timetables and are very stressful in general. Keep in mind that you can be a highly valued employee because your anxiety urges you to control and re-check every single detail. However, over time, these jobs can aggravate your symptoms.
People with panic disorder have unexpected panic attacks. They are often mixed with anxiety attacks because of the shared symptoms, like trembling hands and accelerated heartbeat.
A panic attack is a more intense feeling of dread. Moreover, people experiencing panic attacks report being afraid that they will die or lose their minds.
Here’s a brief list of symptoms:
- Pounding or racing heart
- Trembling or tingling
- Chest pain
- A feeling of impending doom
- Feelings of losing control over oneself
Worst job choice: Any job with high responsibility (paramedic, heavy equipment operator) and an unhealthy environment involving frequent conflicts.
A panic attack can render you totally helpless. Some jobs require the utmost attention to detail. If your panic disorder interferes with your duties and puts other people in danger, it is highly recommended to seek other employment. Below we will provide a list of low-stress jobs to consider.
Another aspect to consider is that high-conflict environments can worsen your condition. Seek a healthier team if your current employer cannot ensure a healthy working environment.
Social Anxiety Disorder
Social anxiety means an intense and persistent fear of being watched or judged by others. The dread of social situations deprives people of control over their actions and behavior. This anxiety can stand in the way of attending school, working, and, in extreme cases, even doing everyday activities like buying groceries.
The symptoms usually look as follows (and happen only in social situations or while anticipating them):
- Sweating, blushing, or trembling
- Having a pounding or racing heart
- Experiencing an upset or aching stomach
- Speaking with a strange, overly soft voice
- Maintaining a rigid body posture
- Experiencing difficulty in making eye contact
- Having recurrent thoughts about being judged
Worst job choice: Any job that requires public speaking or communication with clients, e.g., a teacher or a client support staff.
Pay attention to social situations in which you don’t experience anxiety and compare them to those that trigger your fears. You could try online jobs if you feel comfortable talking on the phone but stress out during face-to-face conversations.
⚡️ 9 Job-Related Triggers for People with Anxiety
As you can see, the triggers for anxiety are different for each person.
In other words:
There is no perfect low-anxiety job. The best recommendation is to explore yourself, your habits, and your mentality. You will learn what causes you the most stress.
Below we have listed some of the most typical anxiety triggers so you know what to look for.
Life has dramatically accelerated over the last fifty years. Unless you live in a rural setting far away from the big city life, you must keep up with the times. Still, some jobs require more adaptability to change and the capacity to handle unexpected turns. These are the worst options for people with anxiety.
Jobs with high levels of unpredictability: Nurse, childcare assistant, client retention expert.
Too Many Tasks
An excessive number of tasks usually results from an unpredictable work environment. But it can also be due to the lack of related personnel, a situation in which one person does the work that several people should do. Your task here would be to:
- Prioritize tasks, particularly when everything seems to be critical.
- Say “no” and take breaks.
Jobs with too many tasks: Personal assistant to a top manager, HR, or accountant in a large company.
Our brains have a limited information-processing capacity, although some of us are better at it than others. But what if the information you have to process is sensitive or distressful? Empathy is an in-born quality that makes us human and humane. You cannot put it on standby to do your job. Being a news editor is a great job for introverts with anxiety. But your mental health could suffer if all you do is consume news about war and natural disasters.
Jobs with information overload: Criminal investigator, prosecution officer, and Intensive Care doctor.
Deadlines stimulate us to work harder and faster. But most people with anxiety become paralyzed when deadlines are too pressing. If they sense they don’t have enough time, they may give up without trying, compromising their professionalism.
Jobs with strict deadlines: Mass media workers, staff translators, and project managers. However, it can be any job; that usually depends on the employer and corporate culture.
Too Much Communication
Having read the previous two paragraphs, you could think that being a cashier is a dream job. It is predictable, has no deadlines, and has zero complicated tasks. But that’s all pointless for a person with social anxiety disorder. The turmoil of new faces, the obligation to smile all the time, and the need to act friendly can drive anxious people crazy.
Jobs with too much communication: Front desk officer, client support staff, and shop attendant.
Remember how at the beginning of this article, we mentioned that 14% of a typical company staff has wanted to hit a colleague? These unpleasant conflicts can be harmful to your health if you have panic attacks. We spend one-third of our lives at work. If that time is spent in continuous conflict, it negatively affects the other two-thirds of our life.
Jobs with highly probable workplace conflicts: Humanitarian aid worker, family law facilitator, insurance agent, as well as any other full-time job with an unhealthy working environment.
The Need to Speak in Public
Most of us feel uneasy planning a presentation or speech at a meeting. Imagine how hard it might be for a person with social anxiety. Everything comes with practice, but throwing yourself into daily public lectures without the necessary training can undermine your mental health.
Jobs with high levels of public speaking: TV reporter, any educational worker, government official.
Commuting to Work
Unless you work from home, commuting to work is always a problem, whether you go by public transport or car. Heavy traffic, unfriendly passengers, road rage, and adverse weather conditions are just several things that can spoil your day. Many people with panic disorder suffer from panic attacks while commuting to work. Their minds are not occupied with any task during that time, and the environment of transport does not contribute to their mental well-being.
Jobs with high levels of commuting: Any located in a metropolis or requiring business trips.
No Work-life Balance
While reading this list of anxiety triggers, you may have thought that contract work is the best solution. Well, it might not be. Failure to establish a work-life balance can lead anyone to a mental breakdown. And if you have unlimited work and are paid for results instead of a salary, you can easily find yourself working in the middle of the night.
Jobs with no work-life balance: Content writers, IT professionals, sailors.
🧘 15 Low-Stress Jobs for People with Anxiety
Below you will find 15 professions in 4 spheres considered the most peaceful and even therapeutic (i.e., those you can use to recover from more stressful jobs). We have also described the pros and cons of each sphere and profession. This is essential because everyone has their own triggers.
We decided not to dwell upon the artistic sphere involving painters and creative writers.
The list below is not complete but rather intended for you to understand the general direction of the search.
Remote jobs are the most obvious option for highly anxious people. There are many benefits in them. Still, there is always a dark side.
|✅ Pros||❌ Cons|
Data Entry Specialist
Some people find data entry calming and meditative. It requires a lot of transcribing, so you’ll need good typing skills. It is a great starter job for a recent graduate, but it can get tedious over the years.
You’ll probably have developed sufficient computer intelligence to progress to other careers by then.
Watch out for scam job postings; in this profession, they always abound.
Are you good with numbers and details? Accountants collect, record, and interpret financial data and check other documents for accuracy.
The tasks of some accountants sometimes include advisory services to company management.
Apart from those instances, you’ll have little communication with other staff.
The biggest drawback here could be strict deadlines and an intense workload. If that’s not an issue for you, you could find the job fulfilling.
There’s a reason psychologists suggest art therapy. Self-expression through images is therapeutic and calming.
Why not use this method to manage emotional distress and earn money?
Graphic designers illustrate, edit photos, design page layouts, create company logos, and visually represent a company. If deadlines do not trigger you and you have some artistic background, it can be a great option.
Today, this is one of the most high-paying jobs available. You can work for several clients, choosing the one with the best pricing and most flexible deadlines. Your salary will grow proportionally to your skills.
You will write code to create software and test the functionality of software developed by other programmers.
This job suits people who prefer solitude and thrive on challenges.
You will require:
- Specialized training in the field
- A portfolio to attract clients
Being a front- or back-end web developer is somewhat more accessible than being a computer programmer.
You’ll still require specific training in programming languages (HTML, CSS, and sometimes Java).
As drawbacks, we could list the need to do routine work, concentrate, and have attention to detail.
This option is not ideal for a socially anxious person. Web developers must often outline project requirements, features, and milestones to clients and other team members. Thus, communication skills are critical in this job.
If you are good with words and have always wanted to write a book (but still haven’t decided on the perfect topic), try being a technical writer. You will develop proficiency in expressing your thoughts and gain confidence in the comfort of your home office.
The job involves preparing:
- Journal articles
- How-to guides
- Other documents to make complex and technical information more reader-friendly
Being outdoors brings you closer to nature and is an antidote to stress. Outdoor jobs offer great rewards to anxious people, but some drawbacks are also present.
|✅ Pros||❌ Cons|
This job involves maintaining parks, gardens, and lawns. The employers are usually local councils and garden centers, but wealthy private clients also hire gardeners.
Planting and pruning trees and bushes and keeping the soil in good condition is peaceful and vital work. People with anxiety can find the environment offered by the job calming and stress-free.
The role is physically demanding and requires working in all weather conditions.
Looking for a freelance job with no need to stare at the screen all day?
If so, being an organic farmer is your option #1. You will enjoy all the benefits of being self-employed, although building your own farming business takes time and money.
Be ready for physical labor, and make sure you have business savvy.
The scope of work for such workers varies from patrolling areas to advanced educational programs in large national parks.
At some places, you may be asked to assist in natural wildlife rehabilitation, meaning that you’ll need a background in biology. But no matter what kind of park you work in, you’ll spend most of your workday among the trees. And as in other nature-based jobs, manual labor is unavoidable.
No matter where you work and what you do, the most essential practice is to take care of your mental and physical health. The best way to learn something once and for all is to teach or share it with others.
Here are the advantages and disadvantages of health-related jobs.
|✅ Pros||❌ Cons|
And one more thing:
Avoid working in ICU and ambulances at all costs, especially if you have an anxiety disorder. Let more emotionally stable people do those jobs.
Massage therapists ensure relaxation for their clients. They soothe muscles, address targeted pain, and create a calming atmosphere for mental recovery.
That’s why most massage therapists provide services in a serene and quiet environment with low-key music and aromatherapy. All this makes it the most low-stress job for therapists as well!
About half of people with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, binge eating, etc.) also have an anxiety disorder. And most often, eating disorders develop in people who already have anxiety issues. A dietitian career is an excellent way to establish healthy relationships with food and understand your own troubles.
The biggest challenge here is the threat of treating a client with similar eating issues that could trigger your own demons.
Once again, helping others stay in shape keeps you fit as well.
But there’s more to it than that:
Physical activity actually reduces stress and aerates your brain. And by gaining extra oxygen, you will help yourself do better at college and work.
Being a personal trainer is an excellent part-time occupation since most clients prefer to attend the gym early in the morning or after working hours. However, you will need background knowledge about anatomy and strength training.
Animal Care Options
AAT, or animal-assisted psychotherapy, is a complementary approach to mental health care. It emphasizes the bonds established between humans and animals, aiming for positive psychological transformation. Jobs requiring animal care are gratifying and mostly stress-free.
The drawbacks are few and evident to people who have pet allergies, phobias, or merely dislike dealing with animals.
|✅ Pros||❌ Cons|
Veterinary Care Assistant
Watching a pet client recover from a health condition and talking to grateful owners is emotionally stimulating. Indeed, positive emotions help to overcome most forms of anxiety and depression.
There are challenges as well. Sometimes pets have incurable diseases or require euthanasia. Those instances are quite difficult, as is watching the grieving owners and comforting them. But if it does not scare you away, the profession can change your life, leaving your anxiety behind.
If the previous option requires too much medical skill and responsibility (which is often stressful), the job of a pet groomer is relatively peaceful and relaxed.
It offers the utmost flexibility, particularly for self-employed professionals. And continuous self-development and collecting new clients can raise your self-esteem.
Creativity is another bonus but mind bites and scratches! Animals can be aggressive, just as people are.
Many dog owners need help with their physically restless pets. They must take their kids to childcare, do domestic chores, and go to work. In some cases, people prefer to pay someone to walk their dog so they can have a peaceful hour in front of their TV set.
These people lose the pleasure of interacting with their lovely animals and spending time outdoors. But that’s an opportunity for you to earn some bucks while eliminating intrusive thoughts.
Some clients are, to say the least, unpleasant. But you only have to deal with them for several short minutes while picking up their pet.
🕴️ Bonus – 5 Steps to Getting Hired When You Have Anxiety
In this section, you’ll find useful tips that will help you successfully get through the hiring process.
Understand Your Preferences
All professions require special qualities and skills.
The first step to get your dream stress-free job is to know yourself very well. Are you empowered while communicating with others or spending time on your own? Do you prefer analyzing abstract ideas or dealing with practical everyday stuff? Are you a thinker or a feeler? How fast do you make decisions?
If you struggle to answer these questions, try taking the Myers-Briggs personality test. It will show you your strong and weak points and get you ready for the following steps.
Identify Your Triggers
We have listed the most typical triggers above, so note those that apply to you. Identifying your fears helps you to classify them and deal with them when you need to. Just remember that everyone is afraid of something. There’s a job out there that fits all or most of your needs.
Learn More about Your Potential Employer
You’ve spotted the right job offering and are invited to the first job interview.
Now it’s essential to get an idea of the company’s corporate culture and overall environment.
It can be helpful to read online reviews about working at the company. However, this can make you biased, so you might think twice before doing so.
Don’t interpret a job interview as a one-sided test of your skills. You are also exploring the potential employer since you may or may not decide to work for them. Such an approach puts you on the same level and should make you more confident.
Ask your interviewer about what your position encompasses. Will you feel comfortable enough making presentations or hosting webinars? Probably not if you have social anxiety.
An interview is a way to get acquainted with the company. It is like a first date when you decide if you want to continue seeing each other. People don’t look for a lifelong job in the 21st century, so it’s too early to think of a “marriage.” But it is a good time to spot any red flags and understand how you feel around your potential coworkers.
Get ready with answers to the most typical HR questions:
- Why do you want this job?
- Why did you choose this company?
- What are your strong and weak sides? (Don’t forget to mention how you face challenges.)
- How do you balance your life and work?
- What are your salary expectations?
Ask a friend or relative to conduct a mock interview to test how convincing your answers are.
Find a Therapist
If socializing (or any other work-related activity) makes you anxious, you might consider seeing a therapist. Our brains are flexible and can adapt to almost any change. With some effort, you can become a better version of yourself and feel more at ease in any environment. After all, each of us has something to tell a therapist.
Life can be difficult sometimes, but we are the most adaptable creatures on earth! Anxious people are attentive to detail, cooperative, and observant. Use these qualities to your advantage, and you’ll find a job that will make your life fulfilling. Please share your experience in the comments below.
- Occupational health: Stress at the workplace
- The Top 10 Most and Least Stressful Jobs
- The 10 most stressful jobs in the US
- Examples of the Most Stressful Jobs (With Reasons Why)
- Coping with stress at work
- Work Anxiety: Is it You Or the Gig? Here’s How To Tell
- Workplace Anxiety: Causes, Symptoms, and Treatment