Are you working in one of the UK’s 7 most stressful jobs?

Stress Awareness Month is a good time to reassess our lives, but what happens if our lives are filled with stress 9 to 5? New research reveals some of the most stressful jobs are ones you least expect, while a leading testing expert warns some careers will take their toll on your heart

April is, among other things, Stress Awareness Month, but for some people, reducing the causes of stress is extremely difficult, as it comes with their job.  

While some careers are more stressful than others, London Medical Laboratory says they are not always the ones you expect.

Chronic long-term stress can lead to high blood pressure, which increases the risk of a heart attack and stroke, says health testing expert Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, who is chief scientific officer at London Medical Laboratory.

“Some jobs are just inherently stressful, but for many people it’s how they deal with potentially taxing situations that is most important,” he says.

“Some people seem to thrive on adrenaline, whereas others suffer work-related stress from jobs that appear relatively undemanding.

“Likewise, some jobs that people find most enjoyable are ones that other people might imagine are nerve-wracking.

“London Medical Laboratory’s latest research looked at what people told us about their work-related stress levels.

“Using data from our Heart Health Profile blood test, their feedback was then combined with the incidence of heart problems and mental health research in different professions.

“From this information, we have compiled a list of the seven most demanding and seven least demanding jobs (excluding roles in the armed and emergency services):

The UK’s 7 most stressful jobs

1 Welfare professionals

2 Customer services

3 Legal professionals

4 Teachers

5 Librarians

6 Recruitment consultants

7 GPs and health professionals

The UK’s 7 least stressful jobs

1 Hair stylists

2 Dental technicians

3 Jewellers

4 Systems software designers

5 Landscapers

6 Bloggers

7 HR Managers

Most stressful jobs explained

Welfare professionals: “Some of the careers we might think of as a ‘calling’ or vocation can still be stressful and lead to anxiety and depression.

“That’s the case for welfare professionals. Jobs such as social workers often attract people who care about others, but welfare careers also have their downsides, including high levels of bureaucracy and having to make difficult decisions about complex situations.”

Customer services: “Whether they are public facing or on the phone, customer service workers report high levels of stress, stemming from the nature of the work and the pressure to achieve targets and deal with angry customers. These jobs are often poorly paid as well, considering the levels of stress they can create.”

Legal professionals: “Professionals such as lawyers face a long period of training, demanding work and irregular hours. Additionally, not all types of legal work pay as much as people assume. Lawyers have one of the highest suicide rates of any UK profession.”  

Teachers: “Teaching, like welfare work, is often a vocation. However, the reality of the job can be very different from what people entering the profession envisaged. Preparation and marking time, dealing with parents and pressure to improve students’ grades cause a significant number of teachers to burn out every year. Not to mention dealing with unruly students too.”

Librarians: “The appearance of librarians on our most stressful job list surprised us the most, but it shouldn’t have. It’s a very public facing role, which is significantly under-resourced.

“The people attracted to the profession are not prepared for the demands it makes on them.

“One in three librarians reported acute workplace stress and absences, the highest of any career we looked at.”

Recruitment consultancy: “Helping people find these stressful jobs is stressful in itself. Recruitment is another of those public facing, initially poorly paid, careers that sets strict targets that can seem overwhelming.”

GPs and health professionals: “We thought doctors and health workers might appear higher up our list, even though it excludes those medics who work in emergency services.

“While some GPs feel supported, the demanding nature of the job, level of responsibility and long hours mean, globally, doctors have the highest suicide rate of all professionals.

“The immense and difficult work our healthcare workers provided during the pandemic has highlighted the highly stressful nature of this work.”

Least stressful jobs

“On the other side of the coin, our list of least stressful jobs seems as surprising as the list of most stressful.

“Considering the deadline-driven world of hi-tech, we were surprised that so few software designers and, indeed, IT workers in general, reported symptoms of stress.

“Likewise, the competitive and results-driven world of blogging would seem to be a hectic career. Bloggers, however, work from home and are generally their own boss, and it can be lucrative work for the most successful.

“Dealing with the impact of Covid and economic downturns might lead you to think working in human resources would be a very demanding job.

“But HR managers reported lower levels of work-related stress and tested lower for heart-related problems than most other professionals.

“The culture of a company can create as much stress as the job itself. A toxic working environment can mean many seemingly undemanding jobs can become very stressful.

“Working in a hair salon might be highly stressful if the owner is unpleasant or there are several difficult clients. Likewise, many welfare professionals find their work rewarding and fulfilling.

“It’s often how a person deals with stress, as much as the work itself, that is important.

“Someone who cannot deal with the stress of their non-working home life can often bring their stress to their workplace environment which can have an impact on themselves and work colleagues.

“Stress can also impact on the heart because of the ways we try to cope with it.  

“Smoking, overeating and lack of physical activity can all increase our risk of cardiovascular disease.

“A heart health profile blood test will reveal cholesterol levels, and check for diabetes and inflammation.

“It measures biomarkers such as triglyceride, a body fat particularly associated with heart disease, and inflammation-related C-reactive protein (CRP).

“A high level of CRP in the blood has been linked to an increased risk of heart attack.

“London Medical Laboratory’s Heart Health Profile blood test kit is highly accurate, quick and simple to carry out, either at home through the post, or at one of the many drop-in clinics that offer this test across London and the South East.”

Find out more here.

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