Just Great Lawyers shared that attorneys know a thing or two about stress, there’s no doubt. After all, whom do people call to walk them through a divorce, bankruptcy, accidents, injuries, etc.? Practicing law regularly puts us ringside for witnessing (and navigating) our clients’ stress when they’re at their most vulnerable. Law is also a profession that carries its own stressors throughout, from the moment we started law school to the moment we retire as principal of a firm and just about everywhere in between.
Considering these facts, we started wondering: Is everybody as stressed out as lawyers are? Who are the most stressed-out people in America? How old are they? Where do they live? What do they do? And what stresses them out the most? Then we conducted a survey to get answers to these questions.
Some studies try to predict how stressed-out different cities and their inhabitants are based on data about unemployment rates, commute times, or home prices. Those are valid markers, of course, but we took a different approach: We just asked. Because when it comes to stress, perception can be more important than reality. The human nervous system is designed to respond to threats real or imagined, evoking the same physical and emotional consequences either way. So in essence, how stressed people think they are is exactly how stressed they really are — and we wanted to hear about that. Along the way, we found out some interesting facts and more than a few surprises.
For instance, many lawyers reflexively consider our profession to be the absolute most stressful. It can certainly feel that way, given the daily stress of acquiring clients, advertising our practices, balancing caseloads, meeting deadlines, keeping up with billing, and maintaining our professional reputations — not to mention those long, long hours of research, reading, and writing. And here’s the shocker: As it turns out, law ranks only among the Top 5 for most stressful occupations! (More on that later.)
What’s not surprising, though, is that Americans across the board are feeling more stressed than we did a year ago, in all of the major categories. But since each city in America has its own unique character, conditions, and communities, inhabitants experience varying levels of stress from a range of sources. Those factors are what we wanted to dig up and examine.
We got personal with 2,700 people in 25 major cities across the U.S. and asked them about all the things that stress them out. Here’s what we learned.