You don’t have to be an HSP or an introvert to want a job with low stress. There are some people who crave pressure and fast-paced environments, but I’d wager that most people don’t.
So, for those of you trying to decide on a career or make a career change, what are some ideal low stress jobs for introverts, Highly Sensitive People, and even empaths?
What causes stress in a job?
When determining the best low stress jobs for introverts and HSPs, it might help to first examine what makes a job stressful. There are countless factors that can make you feel stressed or anxious at work. Here are a few examples:
- Pressure to achieve sales quotas, benchmarks, or other goals. If your job is completely tied to goals that are difficult to reach, that can constantly make you feel close to failure.
- Fear of losing the job. If you work in an unstable environment, your company is barely hanging on, or you feel like you might be fired due to your performance (whether it’s warranted or not), constantly worrying about job stability can cause high stress, even more so if you absolutely cannot afford to be unemployed. A feeling of a lack of control causes anxiety.
- Unending tasks that don’t end. I once had a job where I had to perform high-level tech support for complicated software. Even if I struggled through a difficult day, I had to do it all again the next day. That feeling of never-endingness was stressful to me. I never got a feeling of completion, or being able to move on to other tasks.
- You’re on the clock. If you have a job where you need to accomplish a certain number of tasks in an exact amount of time, you may never feel relaxed or calm—always in a state of rush.
- Your job is simply difficult for you, every day. Stress can simply come from having a hard job that you struggle to do competently. Perhaps it’s either physically or mentally tiring and saps your energy for your personal life.
- There’s a lot at stake. Say you work in a helping profession, like a medical doctor, veterinarian, or nurse. There can be dire consequences if you make any mistakes, which is obviously stressful.
- Compassion fatigue. Similarly, in helping professions where you have to deal with the life, death, and the suffering of others, you may have a difficult time separating your own emotions with others. Highly Sensitive People and empaths have so much empathy that they often take home the struggles of others, which wears on them. Read more about compassion fatigue.
- Environmental Overwhelm. Constant or loud noise or bright light can physically wear you out.
Noise driving you nuts? This is the best noise cancelling machine to use in the workplace!
- Dealing with people. For introverts, dealing with other people simply expends energy. Jobs where you have to engage with others all day can be stressful, and obviously more so if these people are demanding, controlling, or difficult. If you work in customer service and have to deal one-on-one with people who are often unhappy, it can be difficult not to take things personally as an HSP.
- All manner of interpersonal issues. There are all kinds of stressors that can come from working with or working for people you don’t get along with.
What makes a job less stressful than others?
- You get to determine your schedule, or it’s at least flexible.
- You get to help people, feel satisfaction, or work for a cause you believe in or care about.
- You don’t have rigid deadlines.
- You don’t have to deal with people non-stop (if you’re an introvert).
Any jobs that encompass these points could make it onto my list of low stress jobs for introverts and HSPs.
What about self-employment?
I’ve written a lot about working for yourself and whether it is a good option for introverted and sensitive people. On one hand, being self-employed means you get to set your own schedule and you don’t have to answer to anyone else. You can craft your workspace to be comfortable. You can work from anywhere and maybe even do work you’re passionate about. It seems perfect, right?
I’ve worked for myself for a few years and honestly, I think working in an office had lower stress. Now, I am responsible for my income. Me and only me.
Now, if I am not self-directed, organized, and focused, I don’t get paid. I’m 100% tied in to my production and performance. And as a freelancer, I never know if/when one of my clients will decide to end their work with me for whatever reason. When you’re starting out as a freelancer, you may feel like you’re constantly hunting for work, which can be stressful.
Want to read more about what it’s like to be a self-employed Highly Sensitive Person? Check out this post.
My biggest issue with self-employment is that work does not seem to end. When you leave a typical office and go home, there is a marked “end” to your work day. Yes, you might reply to some emails from home or whatnot, but for the most part, you know your work responsibilities for the day are over. Not so with self-employment. I’m always thinking that I should be working. It is hard to stop worrying about whether I’m getting enough done.
Overall, the point is that self-employment has positives and negatives to be aware of. So, when considering careers and low stress jobs for introverts and sensitive folks, keep this in mind.
And finally: The list of low stress jobs for introverts and sensitive people
Over the years this post has existed, I have gotten dozens of comments saying that certain jobs should not be on this list. There is no way to make a perfect list. One software developer might love her job and another might hate it. It depends on many factors.
I tried to select careers that are somewhat self-governing and independent. Also, there is work where you largely sit behind a computer and don’t have as much face-to-face interaction as most other jobs. Jobs with flexible schedules are good, too.
- Service jobs: Janitor, gardener, tailor, truck driver, garbage truck driver, mail deliverer, house painter, dog walker, nanny
- Number & Data crunching: economist, tax preparer, mathematician, statistician, astronomer, actuary, financial analyst. Data can be fun to work with; it doesn’t have the unpredictability that working with people does.
- Tech related: Computer hardware engineer, computer and information systems managers, application software developer, and others. Of course, difficulty with a boss or tight deadlines could cause stress.
- Industrial machine repair
- Factory jobs
- Archivist (fun fact: I was once an Archiving Assistant!)
- Graphic Designer. (Although dealing with clients can be stressful.)
- Optometrist. They perform eye exams and prescribe eyeglasses or contact lenses. They deal with many people face-to-face but have lower stress than an ophthalmologist.)
- Social Media Manager
- Film/Video/Audio editor. You get to spend a lot of time alone, editing.
- Court Reporter
- Scientist (This is a vague term; there are many, many kinds of scientists. Some work in a laboratory, an office, with people, animals, machines, or outdoors.)
- Medical transcriptionist
What do you think are the best low stress jobs for introverts and highly sensitive people? Please leave a comment below!