What is anxiety? There are different types of anxiety, and it doesn't affect everyone the same way.
"Experiencing occasional anxiety is a normal part of life; however, people with anxiety disorders frequently have intense, excessive and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations," according to Mayo Clinic. "Often, anxiety disorders involve repeated episodes of sudden feelings of intense anxiety and fear or terror that reach a peak within minutes (panic attacks). These feelings of anxiety and panic interfere with daily activities, are difficult to control, are out of proportion to the actual danger and can last a long time. You may avoid places or situations to prevent these feelings."
There are different types of anxiety, such as generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) and social anxiety disorder (SAD), which is a social phobia, as well as specific phobias.
"Generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by excessive, exaggerated anxiety and worry about everyday life events with no obvious reasons for worry," according to WebMD. "People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder tend to always expect disaster and can't stop worrying about health, money, family, work or school."
Meanwhile, the defining feature of social anxiety disorder is "intense anxiety or fear of being judged, negatively evaluated, or rejected in a social or performance situation," according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.
So, what isn’t anxiety disorder? General nerves, feelings of pressure, exhaustion and stress are all normal. Everyone experiences that from time to time.
But if you do have anxiety, it can affect not only your personal life, but also your professional life.
Evaluating job demands
Research from a longitudinal study from 1972 to 2005, which explored the influence of work stress on depression and anxiety in young working adults, found that work stress such as a hefty workload and extreme time pressure is related to a twofold risk of major depression and generalized anxiety disorder. That's compared with young workers who do not face the same job demands.
The research suggests that you should look for a job without such stresses if you already have SAD or GAD then.
What job demands should people with SAD or GAD be wary of? As a person living with GAD, it may be helpful for you to choose a career that doesn't come with very high stress or job demands. In other words, you might want to avoid careers that require tight deadlines, ridiculously long hours, quick turnarounds or a ton of people depending on you.
What job attributes should they lean toward? You might want to lean toward jobs that are proven to have stress-calming effects. This might mean working with animals or being active, which releases endorphins.
Ideal career paths
Here are 10 ideal career paths for you if you're living with anxiety.
1. Art Director
Average Annual Salary: $101,990
An art director is a creative who can work in a multitude of industries, from advertising to magazine publishing to television production. You can earn a six-figure salary using your creative skills, which actually induces positive health effects, including on the heart (like relieving stress and anxiety), according to research.
2. Dog Trainer
Average Annual Salary: $30,510
Science says that spending time with animals is a natural stress reliever. "Playing with or petting an animal can increase levels of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin and decrease production of the stress hormone cortisol," according to Animal Smart. So why not spend your days training dogs — and earning money while doing it?
Add to that the fact the running around with dogs all day is physical activity that's equally good for you, and it's a perfect job for those with anxiety. Regular activity can "increase self-confidence, it can relax you, and it can lower the symptoms associated with mild depression and anxiety," according to Mayo Clinic. "Exercise can also improve your sleep, which is often disrupted by stress, depression and anxiety. All of these exercise benefits can ease your stress levels and give you a sense of command over your body and your life."
Average Annual Salary: $25,650
First of all, a landscaper gets to be active and outside, which, again, a wealth of research suggests helps to release endorphins that fight stress. Plus, because this is a creative career, landscaping can be incredibly mentally soothing. In fact, in one study, researchers who'd examined the data of 1,000 elderly men over a nearly 20-year period, discovered that more creative individual tended to live longer because their creativity stimulated many brain regions that kept them healthier.
Average Annual Salary: $59,050
Reading is a common way that people who suffer from anxiety can take a step back from reality and relax. Now imagine that you're working in a building full of books to do just that. Of course, you can't necessarily read on the job, but you can surround yourself with tons of options to check out during your downtime.
5. Massage Therapist
Average Annual Salary: $44,950
Massage therapists' jobs are to help clients relieve stress, which can, in fact, be a stress reliever in and of itself. Think about it: Your office is a relaxing room somewhere with peaceful music, calming scents and easy lighting. Add to the atmosphere the fact that you can make your own hours, and this is a great job for someone with anxiety.
Average Annual Salary: $55,420
Writers are creative and usually work in solitude. This is great for someone who suffers from SAD and prefers to work alone, on their own time, responsible for only themselves.
Average Annual Salary: $40,112
Music is proven to help ease anxiety, according to a growing body of research. And, again, because many musicians often get creative in solitude, this is a great career path for someone who suffers from SAD. And, because they're often then tasked with playing before crowds of others, it can help them to overcome their SAD when they feel confident enough to play.
Average Annual Salary: $88,770
Again, because working with animals helps to soothe anxiety, a veterinarian is an ideal job for people with anxiety. This job surrounds animals day in and day out, and you can rest assured that you're helping animals live better lives, just as they're helping you.
Average Annual Salary: $61,444
Programmers often work in solitude since they need little distractions in order to get their work done sufficiently and efficiently. They spend hours on their own, usually only consulting other programmers when they need help. This is great for someone who suffers from anxiety and prefers to work on their own.
Average Annual Salary: $42,840
You might think that you could never become a counselor since you suffer from anxiety, yourself. But counselors are counted on to be understanding, and this is why it's a great job for people with anxiety.
If you have SAD or GAD, you're not alone. Approximately 40 million American adults, which makes up roughly 18 percent of the population, have an anxiety disorder, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. Why is that number so high? An American Psychiatric Association (APA) poll suggests that safety, health and finances seemed to be the greatest sources of anxiety.
Fortunately for you, there are jobs out there that can help you actually soothe your anxiety. And if the aforementioned jobs aren't of interest, consider a freelance position so you can at least make your own hours.
About the Career Expert:
AnnaMarie Houlis is a multimedia journalist for a gamut of both online and print publications, as well as an adventure aficionado and travel blogger at HerReport.org. She covers all things women's empowerment — from navigating the workplace to navigating the world. She writes about everything from gender issues in the workforce to gender issues all across the globe.