The Free Press, Mankato, MN

January 25, 2014

Krohn: Pick up a shears and just relax


The Mankato Free Press

---- — Just about everyone, it seems, is filled with stress. Study after study says its more prevalent and causing more problems.

A story on Page C1 today talks about classes aimed at reducing stress through meditation rather than anti-depressants.

About 75 percent of all Americans report routine physical or psychological symptoms from stress. Many cite the recession, money woes and the fear that upward mobility is more limited as causes of more stress. But most people point to their jobs as a source of their woes.

The jobs website CareerCast recently released its annual top 10 most stressful and least stressful occupations for 2014. They base stress levels on a series of criteria, including travel, growth potential, deadlines, public scrutiny, competitiveness and physical demands.

It's tough to argue with the No. 1 choice for most stressful jobs: enlisted military personnel.

Not only are soldiers — particularly in recent years — often facing IEDs, being shot at and away from loved ones, but they only make $29,000 for their troubles.

Right behind soldiers, military generals have the second most stressful job. Although they're not the ones getting shot at and they get paid close to $200,000 a year, they no doubt have a heavy burden in making decisions that can put a lot of soldiers at risk.

Following soldiers and generals on the list are airline pilots, event coordinators and public relations executives.

Newspaper reporter was listed as the eighth most stressful job, but corporate executive was listed as being even more stressful.

Maybe, but there is one big difference between the two jobs. Reporters are listed as earning an average $35,900 while a corporate executive's average salary is $168,150.

Being slightly more stressed for an extra $132,000 a year seems more than worth it.

Surprisingly, police officer — coming in at No. 9 — is cited as being less stressful than a news reporter, as is taxi driver at No. 10.

I can't say I feel all that stressed by my job. Yes, there are constant deadlines and you work in the public eye. But being paid to go around talking to a lot of interesting people isn't a bad gig.

The 10 least-stressful jobs are: audiologist, hairstylist, jeweler, university professor, seamstress/tailor, dietitian, medical records technician, librarian, multimedia artist, drill-press operator.

Some professors have bristled at the notion they're unstressed, but the jobs on the rest of the list do seem like the kind you could stay mellow.

I don't think I've ever met a hairstylist who doesn't seem content in what they're doing, even if they're not paid lavishly.

I know a couple who live up in the north woods and sell supplements and soaps and essential oils. Sweet incense smells fill their shop and everyone who comes in becomes instantly calmer. I don't know if I've ever seen two people less stressed than they are at work. They are so relaxed you sometimes wonder if they just entered some super-Zen state of consciousness.

Yes, money causes most of us stress once in a while. But job stress, no matter what you're making, can often consume most of a person's waking hours. The best jobs, it seems, are the ones where no one is standing over you, you're doing something you like, and you can leave the job behind when you get home.

Tim Krohn can be contacted at tkrohn@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6383.