Gahhhh! What Stresses People Out the Most at Work

Stressed out at work? Take a number.

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Nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of American workers are stressed out by at least one thing at work, according to Everest College’s 2012 Work Stress Survey conducted by Harris Interactive.

You know what gets on people’s last nerve the most?

Yup — not getting paid enough. Some 11 percent of those surveyed cited pay as their biggest source of stress, followed by annoying co-workers (10 percent), commuting (9 percent), unreasonable workload (9 percent), and working in a job that isn’t their chosen career (8 percent).

“[A] moderately improving economic landscape and lower unemployment numbers have not yet eased anxiety in the workplace and Americans are still, more than ever, concerned about their job situation,” said John Swartz, the regional director of career services at Everest College.

Other sources of stress included poor work-life balance (5 percent), lack of opportunity for advancement (5 percent), and the boss (4 percent).

If you have any questions about whether or not you’re stressed out, here are a few tell-tale signs, according to Psychology Today: You’re less patient and sympathetic listening to other people’s problems, you ask more “closed-end questions” to discourage dialogue, your dedication to exercise, diet, and friendship is waning, you feel trapped, you give people a lot of “Yes, but” answers to their suggestions and *gasp!* this one is the most horrifying to us here at the Pony blog — you’ve lost your sense of humor.

Workplace-advice site offers these additional signs: You can achieve a "Runner's High" by sitting up. The sun is too loud. You can see individual air molecules vibrating. TV infomercials entertain you.

Women are definitely more stressed about money than men: 14 percent of women in the work-stress survey cited pay as their top stressor, compared to 8 percent of the men.

Call it economic optimism, freak-out fatigue, or whatever you want, but one of the most fascinating results from the survey is that the fear of losing a job is subsiding. The number of people who cited fear of being fired or laid off as a top source of stress dropped to 4 percent in this year’s survey from 9 percent last year.

You know what really drives Tesla Martinez, president of the consulting firm Terra Nova Insights?

Talking about how stressed you are!

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc | Blend Images | Getty Images

“Stressing that you’re stressed will only leave you that way,” Martinez said. “Folks who bum-rush their colleagues with naysaying or unload all their challenges versus taking a step back and realizing the grass isn’t always greener. This can drain positive energy levels from their peers and drive colleagues a little loopy!”

And while we’re at it, it’s also maddening when people talk about how busy they are all the time, said Tony Schor, president of consulting firm Investor Awareness.

“I do not like it when people spend a lot of time talking to co-workers complaining about how they are soooooo busy,” Schor said. “My feeling is if one is soooo busy, then they should not be talking about it and just go do the work required!”

So what about that other 26 percent in the work-stress survey — those people who said nothing at work stresses them out. Who are these magically unstressed people? Surely even the Sugar Plum Fairy finds something stressful about her job.

Not surprisingly, more than a third of those no-stress people (37 percent) were those who had a household income of more than $100,000. More men than women said they had no stress and there was a direct correlation with age — the older people get, the less stressed they are on the job, Swartz said.

So, the bad news is that we’re getting older. The good news is, you’ll be less stressed about it.

Whatever you do, don’t talk about it. And if the sun gets too loud or you start losing your sense of humor — call for help!

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