Those in the most stressful careers on how they cope.
According to 2016 data released by Optum, a provider of employee assistance programmes to corporates, stress affects 62 per cent of the workforce in American organisations. Since a job search website recently released its survey of the most stressful careers, we got people in these jobs to share how they keep from letting stress get the better of them.
Captain Reid Taylor
Commander, Boeing 747
In Taylor’s profession, there is no scope for error, decisions need to be made in split seconds and, every time he flies, he is responsible for the hundreds of lives on board. “We don’t have fixed work hours/days, and may have two to four take-offs/landings in a day. The erratic lifestyle does take a toll on our mental and physical health. So, it’s vital for us to plan our sleep and make it a priority. One has to be mentally alert and pass the yearly physical tests (medical) as a pilot who doesn’t isn’t allowed to fly and most don’t have any other skill or experience,” says the 37-year-old. Taylor manages to stay calm and fit by playing sports. “I love playing cricket and soccer and I like to run. I make sure that I go to the gym in the hotels I stay in without fail. When I am home, my wife and family have created a positive environment for me and take care of everything. I also enjoy social gatherings on my days off and spend all the time I can with my 9-year-old — that’s a great stress buster.”
Managing Director of a PR firm
McCullum’s work means commuting between three cities, though Toronto is where her firm is headquartered. The 44-year-old visits her New York and Ontario offices once every few months. Typically, a PR professional is under the most pressure when he or she must do damage control for clients. McCullum takes a philosophical approach. She points out, “Stress is relative; there are people in other careers whose jobs involve taking life or death decisions, so it’s all a matter of how you look at it. For me, a deadline provides an adrenaline rush and I feel a similar thrill whenever we sign a new client on. But, I do get stage-fright when I have to speak before a large audience, so that can be stressful.”
Having worked in fast-paced cities like Beijing and France, McCullum who has 23 years of experience in the line says, “I think the key is to prioritise your personal life too. I am possessive about my weekends and I always maintain professional and personal boundaries. Family holidays keep stress in check too. We visit our Cuba home every five weeks. I also believe I’m entitled to enjoy some time on my own and I do pamper myself with spa treatments.” Yoga sessions help as well. “These help me stay calm and control anxiety. Breathing exercises are a part of my daily schedule,” she says.
Senior Corporate Executive
Heads the South Asian operations of a global risk solutions firm
As the Managaing Director of a global risk management consulting firm, 38-year-old Hayden’s stress levels peak when it’s time to deliver the end product to a client. “If we come across some sensitive information, we need to handle it carefully. We need to manage and develop trust with our client and staff,” she tells us. Hayden’s approach to combatting stress involves being aware of her triggers. “I know that the deadlines will stress me out, so I work on managing the project cycle better. I am aware that I have a tendency to not eat properly, sleep or exercise during that time, so I make it a point to watch out for these things,” she shares. Hayden also takes the time to consciously destress. “During that time, I don’t check my phone for e-mails and messages and I delegate work cleverly so I can spend time with my children. I also make it a point to exercise and eat right then. When a stressful situation arises, I consciously take a few minutes to look at the big picture and think about how the matter can be resolved. It’s important to understand that if stress affects your health, it will also affect your work, so don’t sweep it under the rug.”