Business Insider recently published an article listing the most stressful jobs in America. This information comes from the Occupational Information Network, which is a database maintained by the US Department of Labor. This database contains a log of almost 900 different jobs! “Stress tolerance” is a score from 0 to 100 given to a job. It is defined as “how frequently workers must accept criticism and deal with high stress on the job”. Therefore, the higher the score, the more stressful that job is perceived to be. The stressful jobs on the list below scored a stress tolerance of 94 or higher. Take a look through the list and see if your job is on there. If so, you’ll probably want to keep scrolling down to my tips for managing stressful jobs.
The top 29 most stressful jobs
29. Probation officers
28. Ship pilots
27. Healthcare support workers
26. Oral and maxillofacial surgeons
25. Mental health counsellors
24. Practical and vocational nurses
23. General internist
22. Food machine operators
21. First-line supervisors of police and detectives
20. Preschool and childcare centre education administrators
19. Costume attendants
17. Art therapists
16. Psychiatric nurses
15. Police detectives
13. Social workers
12. Critical care nurses
11. Broadcast news analysts
10. Airline pilots
8. Obstetricians and gynecologists
6. Acute care nurses
5. Telephone operators
4. Nurse anesthetists
3. Anesthesiologist assistants
2. Police, fire, and ambulance dispatchers
The difference between stressful jobs and job anxiety
First of all, even if your career didn’t make this list of stressful jobs, it’s very much possible that you still experience stress in the workplace. But how do you know if it’s stress that comes with the job versus anxiety that warrants treatment? The simplest way to explain it is like this: stress comes from an external source, whereas anxiety comes from an internal source. Feeling stressed is a common and necessary reaction to a situation, whereas anxiety is a reaction above and beyond what the situation calls for. I’ve also heard the difference described in this way: stress is a response to a situation, and anxiety is a reaction to the stress.
When we feel stressed, we know what the trigger is. An upcoming deadline, being stuck in traffic, realizing you burnt your dinner. With anxiety, however, we aren’t really aware of the reason we feel anxious and so the reaction is what becomes the problem. Emotions associated with stress are frustration and nervousness. When we are anxious, our emotions tend to be more along the lines of fear, unease, and worry. In times of stress, we feel like we have a better handle on the situation. Anxiety, on the other hand, leaves us feeling helpless. However, the good news is that you don’t have to feel this way. There are lots of options when it comes to treating anxiety naturally!
How to manage anxiety
If you read that last paragraph and thought to yourself “yup, I have anxiety”, then get out a pen and paper ’cause it’s time to take notes. If you feel like your anxiety warrants pharmacological intervention, then talk to your doctor. Here are some natural options you may want to give a try.
Many people are not aware of the fact that naturopaths are trained in cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT). This is a tool used in psychology that helps you to change the way you think. How powerful is that?! This method truly gets to the root cause of the anxiety and research has shown it to be very effective. If you are interested in giving CBT a go, talk to your naturopathic or medical doctor about it.
Meditation, mindfulness, and breathing exercises can all be helpful in general prevention of anxious thoughts. But these can also be useful tools during an acute bout of anxiety. Feel like your thoughts are racing? Focus on the breath. Try taking slow, deep breaths through your nose and into your belly. Think of your thoughts as clouds passing overhead. You notice them, but you don’t let them enter your mind and take over. What you are focusing on is your breath and your breath only.
Mindfulness is an enormous topic for another day, but essentially it means being present. It’s about living in the moment instead of worrying about how you’re going to make that deadline, what you’re going to make for dinner, or ruminating over criticism you got from someone last week. Being mindful is not an easy thing to do. Like most skills, it requires practise. I tell patients to try meditating for just 3 minutes a day as a starting point. If you prefer guided meditations, you can find a plethora of them on YouTube. Another good meditation website is calm.com. If you prefer an app, try HeadSpace or Insight Timer.
Certain foods can help to stave off anxiety, whereas others can make it worse. If you find worrisome thoughts are taking over your mind, it’s a good idea to stay away from caffeine. Coffee, tea, and chocolate can all worsen anxiety. You’ll also want to avoid processed foods, as they increase reactive oxygen species in the body. This leads to oxidative stress, which can contribute to the development of anxiety.
Another potential trigger for anxiety is a drop in blood sugar. When we consume high-glycemic foods like sugar, potatoes, or bread, they get converted to glucose soon after we eat them. This causes a spike in blood sugar, which causes insulin to be released. Insulin’s job is to decrease the amount of glucose in the blood. When blood glucose drops like this, the body compensates by releasing adrenalin. This triggers the fight-or-flight response, which can manifest as anxiety. Your best bet is to stay away from foods that are high on the glycemic index. Another trick you can try is pairing carbohydrates with fats and protein. This helps to slow the upward spike and downward drop of blood glucose!
Think that a bottle of wine will help ease those nerves? Well, the opposite can actually be true. Long-term alcohol use can interfere with the absorption of certain vitamins and minerals that prevent anxiety. Studies have shown that decreasing alcohol use reduces anxiety levels. That “liquid courage” might not be your friend after all!
Magnesium is the calming mineral that many of us don’t realize we are deficient in. Talk to your naturopathic doctor about supplementation, or try incorporating these high-magnesium foods into your diet:
- Pumpkin seeds
- Black beans
- Dark chocolate
A potential side effect of zinc deficiency is anxiety. If you think this may be your problem, talk to your naturopathic doctor and make sure you are eating enough of the following high-zinc foods:
- Grass-fed beef
- Pumpkin seeds
- Cocoa powder
Vitamin B12 is another nutrient that can lead to deficiency if we don’t get enough of it. Vegetarians are the most at risk of developing a B12 deficiency since it is mostly in the following foods:
- Beef liver
- Atlantic mackerel
- Wild-caught salmon
- Nutritional yeast
- Feta cheese
- Grass-fed beef
- Cottage cheese
Chamomile is a plant that can be found growing right here in Canada. Tea made from chamomile is widespread and easy to find at any grocery or health food store. It is often included in “Sleepytime” teas due to its relaxing effects. It’s not just for bedtime, though! If you’re having a particularly long and stressful day, why not have a chamomile tea at lunchtime or during the day at your desk? Besides, it’s better than going for a caffeinated beverage that could actually worsen your anxiety!
When it comes down to it, the best way to manage your anxiety is by having a healthy, well-rounded diet and living in the present. But these things are much easier said than done. If you would like to work on your anxiety in a supportive, empathic, non-judgmental environment, then book your appointment with Dr. Corina Kibsey ND today.
Photo courtesy of:Helloquence