Stressful and Not So Stressful Jobs

A recent study that listed the most stressful and the least stressful occupations made me start reflecting on the jobs I've had throughout my life. My day job is Public Relations Director and apparently PR is one of the top five most stressful careers out there. Some might roll their eyes at the notion of dealing with the media being ranked as high on the anxiety charts as the dangers that the military, firefighters, police officers, and others face, but from experience, I can say that yes, the stress is high, especially when crisis management is involved, and don't get me started on deadlines and unrealistic expectations for coverage. (Of course, I still don't compare what I do for a living to what our noble soldiers and first responders do, putting their lives on the line every day so that our own lives might be more worry-free.) On the other hand, I also teach part-time and the number one least stressful job according to the survey is university professor.  So I have both the most and the least stressful jobs! As I joked on Facebook, maybe they cancel each other out and that's why I'm such an easygoing, nice guy!  :)

I also delude myself into continuing to think of myself as an entertainer. Some people with phobias about public speaking might think that acting is stressful, but to be honest I crave being in the spotlight. All performers must be a little crazy and the attention of an audience must satisfy some emotional or psychological void, but once I'm on stage or in front of a camera, I feel free. The only stress I ever recall feeling is the stomach-churning butterflies in the pit of my gut right before a first entrance, which quickly disappears, or the sheer panic when something goes wrong during a live performance, but that's why God invented improvisation. Many actors, in fact, thrive on such adrenaline rushes! (Not me, I love when everything goes according to script.)

As a kid I worked as a dishwasher, a doorman, and an elevator operator. Each had their moments of Zen-like calmness and their times of stress, (for example, when the boiler failed during the graveyard shift and I had to figure out what to do so that the swanky Park Avenue residents had their hot water by morning. Thanks to my boss, who answered my frantic 3 a.m. call and told me what to do, all turned out well).

My jobs in the entertainment and media industries had their highpoints and lowpoints, full of tedious but rewarding chores, mixed with high-octane excitement that I'll never forget, as well as the once-in-a-blue moon overwhelming disasters that pushed me to the verge of nervous breakdowns. I have many stories to tell from my days at the television syndicator DLT Entertainment, the Brown and Argus PR firm, the video distribution company Valley Media, and HMG Worldwide, where I worked on a number of marketing and research projects, including their Ego Media division. I'll have to save those for my eventual biography if I ever get around to writing my memoirs.

Stress is a natural reaction and defense mechanism when we face hardship, especially danger. Similar to fear, experiencing it can make us stronger, especially if we learn to deal with it in a positive manner. May all of your tasks and everything you face in the roads ahead be stress free, or at least the kind of stress that can be overcome!

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