In the UK, we’re quite familiar with the mentality of ‘keep calm and carry on’, especially when it comes to our work. Too often, we think that the best way to cope with stress is to maintain a stiff upper lip and simply keep going.
However, as awareness of mental health grows, we’re realising that there are plenty of ways to manage stress in both our personal and professional lives. And although it might be considered a rather drastic option, many people consider changing careers in later life to be a great way to find a better work-life balance.
With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of six jobs that are often considered to be ‘low-stress’ to give you some ideas if you’re looking for a less mentally taxing career.
Before you read on, it’s worth remembering that changing careers is a big step and that no job is ever completely stress-free. Every role, including each of the ones on this list, has its own challenges and difficulties to contend with. But if you are looking for a change, hopefully, these six roles will give you some inspiration.
People wanting to go into skilled trade occupations don’t necessarily need to have a degree, but they will need to develop a specific skill set – which is usually learned vocationally or on the job. And one of the skilled trade jobs that’s considered to be particularly low-stress is gardening.
A gardener’s typical daily tasks might include anything from pruning hedges and mowing lawns to planting bulbs and even doing some basic building work – for example, laying a patio or putting together garden structures like sheds.
If you’re interested in getting into this green-fingered profession, then you typically have two paths to choose from…
Firstly, you could go down the self-employment route. Although you’ll have to find clients and customers, and this might take some time, being self-employed will allow you to choose the sort of jobs you want to do, as well as set your own hours.
Considering that a lack of flexibility and working too many hours are both major contributors to workplace stress in the UK, becoming self-employed could allow you to reduce the amount of stress you encounter in these areas.
Alternatively, if you don’t want to go down the self-employment route, then you could always apply for trainee positions with employers like the National Trust – where you don’t necessarily need to have any previous experience and can learn on the job.
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Like many other hands-on jobs, gardening is also a mindful activity that can help you focus on the present moment and reduce feelings of anxiety and depression. As a gardener, you’ll also spend a lot of your days outside among nature and green spaces, which is another thing proven to relieve stress and boost overall wellbeing.
Like gardening, working as a librarian owes its low-stress nature (in part) to the environment in which the work takes place – as libraries are often calm, quiet, and contemplative places.
This can be a stark contrast to other jobs, which might involve working in offices filled with the ringing of telephones, the whirring of heavy machinery, or the hustle and bustle of people going about their daily business.
There are many positions that fall under the blanket term of ‘librarian’; for example, you could become a cataloguer, who’s in charge of organising information and resources to make them easily accessible. Or you could become a learning resource manager, who typically runs an entire library or section of a library.
There are also many different kinds of libraries you could work in. For example, academic libraries at schools and universities, specialist law libraries at law firms, or public libraries, just to name a few.
Whatever specific role you undertake or library you work at, a librarian’s daily tasks typically include helping people to find and access information and resources in hard copy form and/or through web-based services.
To be successful in this role, you’ll need to be an organised individual with a passion for learning. Customer service skills are also needed for many librarian roles, as your tasks might involve dealing directly with the people who use the library. And because many library resources are online these days, digital skills are a must too.
There are a few routes to becoming a librarian. For example, you could first become a library assistant through a college course, apprenticeship, or by applying directly, and then work your way up. Or, you could become qualified by studying for a librarianship degree.
For more information on how to become a librarian, why not head over to the National Careers Service website?
Ready to apply for a role as a librarian?
3. Admin assistant
One of the job categories that the HSE findings highlight as being the lowest stress levels is administrative and secretarial work.
OptimistMinds – a website dedicated to sharing information from clinical psychologists, psychiatrists, and mindfulness experts – suggests that the reason for this is that people’s responsibilities in administrative and secretarial roles are often clearly defined.
In these roles, tasks are also repeated each day. So although they don’t typically involve much day-to-day variety, administrative and secretarial professionals are often very well acquainted with what’s expected of them, which can be a huge factor in limiting workplace stress.
Like ‘librarian’, ‘admin assistant’ is an umbrella term that describes a range of jobs involving slightly different roles and responsibilities. For example, a receptionist and an office clerk might both be referred to as admin assistants.
However, all admin assistant roles typically involve using organisational skills to support businesses in their day-to-day operations. This may entail organising meetings, filing documents, scheduling appointments, or even making presentations. As an admin assistant, you’d basically be ensuring that things run smoothly behind the scenes and supporting other employees.
There are a wide variety of ways to become an admin assistant. For example, many companies will take on people in this role based solely on transferable skills gained from previous work experience, even if you haven’t worked specifically in an administrative capacity before. You could even consider volunteering for a charity to gain any necessary office experience to give you a better chance of landing a role.
To be successful as an admin assistant, you’ll need to have excellent organisational and time management skills, as well as be well-versed in popular digital office skills such as Microsoft Office. Because you’ll be supporting other employees and maybe talking to customers, you’ll also need to be personable, and an effective communicator.
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4. Delivery driver
If you love the freedom and independence that comes with hitting the open road, and you’re confident and competent behind the wheel, then why not consider delivery driving as a low-stress career option?
Nowadays, as the majority of our shopping is done online, there’s a wide range of delivery driver jobs available from a variety of companies. For example, parcel delivery service Yodel is currently hiring in hundreds of roles.
As a delivery driver, you could be delivering anything from small packages or someone’s favourite takeaway to large items like furniture – or even a whole family’s weekly grocery shop.
Becoming a delivery driver is an appealing option for many because not only do you get to escape the monotony of sitting within the same four walls but, in some cases, you’ll also have the option to choose your own hours.
Mindful.org also suggests that driving is the perfect opportunity to practise mindfulness and to stay in the present moment because it demands our 100% attention – which, as we’ve said, is great for reducing feelings of stress and anxiety.
If you become a self-employed delivery driver, you’ll also (in many cases) have the freedom and flexibility to drive your own car, wear your own clothes, and listen to your own music.
Anyone can become a delivery driver – as long as you have a UK driver’s licence that qualifies you to operate the vehicle you’ll be delivering in, a clean driving record, and pass any relevant background checks. To find out more about how to become a delivery driver, why not visit the National Careers Service website?
And if you’re interested in driving jobs, but you don’t think being a delivery driver is the right fit for you, then you could take a look at our article; Top driving job ideas that offer flexibility and freedom for some inspiration.
Explore delivery driver roles
5. Massage therapist
Massage therapists manipulate people’s muscles and soft tissue to provide various forms of relief. For this reason, massage therapy can help treat things like sports injuries and long term health conditions – and in other cases, people go to massage therapists simply to help them relax.
Many people cite massage therapy as a low-stress career choice, mostly because the role itself is about helping others heal, relax, and unwind in an atmosphere that’s designed to reduce stress.
If you like the sound of becoming a massage therapist and you’re wondering how you might get started, then you have two options. You can either become self-employed, offering therapy to clients of your choosing and setting your own hours; or you can work for a larger company, such as a spa or a health club.
What might surprise you is that massage therapy in the UK is completely unregulated. This means that you can offer your services as a massage therapist without having any formal training or qualifications.
However, to give yourself professional credibility and a chance to secure a job as a massage therapist with a company, it’s highly recommended that you study for a qualification that’s accredited by trusted organisations such as the International Therapy Examination Council (ITEC).
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If you choose to go down the self-employment route, the freedom to choose your clients, take charge of your own schedule, and even work in your own home if you want to, can also help to keep your work-life balance in check.
Massage therapy also has a great income potential, and the satisfaction you’ll get from helping people to relax or relieve their pain can be incredibly rewarding.
To find out more about becoming a massage therapist, you can visit the National Careers Service website here.
Interested in applying to be a massage therapist?
6. Dog walker or sitter
Dog lovers and owners will already know how comforting and entertaining it is to hang out with a pooch all day long. However, spending time with dogs is scientifically proven to lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression.
So, if you’re looking for a low-stress job option, then dog walking or sitting could be a great option. Most dog walkers or sitters are also self-employed, which means that, like some of the other options on this list, you can have greater control over your own schedule.
Plus, dog walkers and sitters get to spend plenty of time outside exercising with their furry friends – which is also proven to reduce feelings of stress and anxiety. To read about the other benefits that come with dog walking – such as increased socialisation – you might want to have a read of our article here.
You don’t need any formal qualifications to become a dog walker or sitter. The best way to get started is to start walking and sitting for the dogs of friends, family, and anyone else you might know. From here, you can get recommendations and start building up a client base.
You can also sign up for websites such as Tailster or Pet Stay. Services like these are great because they’ll help you to connect with dog owners who are looking for walkers and sitters – and signing up will also give you insurance cover for things like emergency vet care and public liability.
If you’re interested in becoming a pet sitter, then you might want to have a read of Maggie’s story. Maggie started pet sitting in her 60s and describes it as ‘the perfect role’.
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If you’re looking for a career change that’s going to bring less stress into your life, then we hope this list of six roles has offered you some inspiration. However, it’s still worth noting that, unfortunately, no job is completely stress-free and each one comes with its own difficulties and challenges – and changing careers isn’t necessarily a solve-all fix.
So, if you’re experiencing an unusual amount of stress in your professional life, it might be worth considering other options to help protect your mental health too. This might involve finding a better work/life balance in your existing role or seeking other forms of support like career coaching. For more help on this, why not check out our article; 9 ways to prevent and recover from burnout?
And if you feel like you’re struggling significantly as a result of your current career and you’re not sure where to turn, it might be worth getting in touch with a mental health organisation like Samaritans or The Silver Line. These charities work around the clock to be there for people who need a listening ear and some friendly support. They’ll also be able to advise you on what to do next, so you can start feeling like yourself again.
For more job inspiration and career change advice, head over to the careers section of our website.