• Germany's news in English

Jobless stress levels 'higher than CEOs'

Julie Colthorpe · 23 Jun 2014, 11:03

Published: 22 Jun 2014 22:08 GMT+02:00
Updated: 23 Jun 2014 11:03 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Single parents and unemployed people suffer more frequently from chronic stress than managers or civil servants, a new study shows.

"I´d rather fight deadlines in the office," Sarah König, a 30-year-old unemployed single mum from Berlin told The Local. "When you return home from a stressful day at work you´re often exhausted. But I still miss this sort of stress."

König spends her days writing job applications, frequently without a response. "I´d rather experience that I was important for a team, for a task, for society. I don't want the country to pay my way. I want to feel needed and also pay taxes myself," she added.

Flavia Costa, 33, from Milan, has been unemployed for 18 months, with sporadic cooperations.

“It's of course everyday life: every time that I go shopping for food, that I pay the rent, the bills, that I check my bank account, that I go out, I have this internal sense of bleeding. While I'm running out of my savings, although I'm covered in many ways, it's frustrating to see it.”

A study last week showed that Costa and König are not alone in feeling higher stress levels while out of work than when tackling the strains of daily employment.

The study, completed on behalf of health insurance company DAK, evaluated stress levels of 3000 people across the country aged between 25 and 40. Participants were asked how often they had negative experiences and situations in their daily lives. The scale ranged from 0 (no stress) to 48 (maximum stress).

Results showed that unemployed people were the second most stressed group in the country, averaging 21.4 points on the scale, after single mothers at 24.6 points. Both groups registered way above the average stress level of 19.2 points.

Unemployed people were shown to feel higher levels of stress despite having fewer tasks to accomplish on a daily basis.

One reason is that they do not have the luxury of separating their private problems from their professional lives.

“Many professionals find their private lives more stressful and therefore feel they can relax at work,” psychologist Lutz Hertel told Spiegel last week.

Hertel said that more significantly, it is not that the sheer amount of work a person has, but the ability to exercise control over their daily lives that plays a key role in their stress levels.

Those who are out of work have very limited control over their lives, the DAK report said.

This may also explain why semiskilled or unskilled workers, with an average of 20.2 points, came well ahead of highly qualified employees or those in managerial positions, who averaged just 17.7 points on the scale of stress.

Flavia who lives in Bremen said the stress she is experiencing is also because her self-confidence has suffered since being unemployed. “The more I don't work, the less I'm self-confident; every time that I read a job description or I take part in an interview, I lose perception of what I'm really able to do, and I question myself "will I be good enough?".

She said she feels like she is in a catch-22 situation, “The more I don't work, the less confident I am, the less confident I am, the chances are less to nail a job.”

Depression due to severe stress and anxiety disorders has risen considerably in Germany over the last few years, the report said. The numbers of sick days taken off for this reason has soared by 178 percent over the past 13 years.

SEE ALSO: Jobless benefits to get leaner and meaner


For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Julie Colthorpe (julie.colthorpe@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Politicians call for tough sentences for 'killer clowns'
File photo: DPA.

Now that the so-called 'killer clown' craze has spread from the US to Germany, elected officials are drawing a hard line against such "pranks", with some threatening offenders with jail time of up to a year.

Nearly one in ten Germans are severely disabled
Photo: DPA

New figures reveal that 9.3 percent of the German population last year were considered severely disabled.

The Local List
Germany's top 10 most surreal sites to visit
The Upside-Down House, in Mecklenburg–Western Pomerania. Photo: Olaf Meister / Wikimedia Commons

From upside-down houses on Baltic islands to a fairy-tale castle near the Austrian border, Germany is a treasure trove of the extraordinary.

Bavarian critics back Merkel for Chancellor again
Photo: DPA

The Christian Social Union (CSU) have long delayed backing Angela Merkel as their candidate for Chancellor in next year's general election. But now key leaders are supporting her publicly.

Four taken to hospital after hotel toilet bursts into flames
File photo: DPA.

Four guests at a Nuremberg hotel were taken to hospital due to smoke inhalation early Monday morning after a toilet there burst into flames.

Creepy clown scare spreads to Germany
Two of the clowns were apparently equipped with chainsaws. Photo: Pedro Pardo / AFP file picture

Police said Friday five incidents involving so-called scary clowns had occurred in two north German towns, including one assailant who hit a man with a baseball bat, amid fears that Halloween could spark a rash of similar attacks.

Student fined for spying on women via their webcams
Photo: DPA

Student from Munich fined €1,000 for spying on 32 different computers, using their webcams to take photographs, or record their keyboard history.

This is how much startup geeks earn in Germany
Photo: DPA

A comprehensive new survey of 143 startup founders shows how much you are likely to be earning at a German startup, from entry level all the way up to sitting on the board.

Man dies after beating for peeing near Freiburg church
The Johannes Church in Freiburg. Photo Jörgens Mi/Wikipedia

A middle-aged man from southern Germany has died after being attacked by a group of men who took umbrage with the fact he was urinating in the vicinity of a church.

The Local List
Seven German celebrities with uncanny doppelgängers
Former Berlin mayor Klaus Wowereit and actor Alec Baldwin. Photo: DPA; Gage Skidmore, Wikimedia Commons

Check out these seven look-a-likes of well known German figures - we admit that some are more tenuous than others...

10 things you never knew about socialist East Germany
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
How Germans fell in love with America's favourite squash
How I ditched London for Berlin and became a published author
12 clever German idioms that'll make you sound like a pro
23 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
9 unmissable events to check out in Germany this October
10 things you never knew about German reunification
10 things you're sure to notice after an Oktoberfest visit
Germany's 10 most Instagram-able places
15 pics that prove Germany is absolutely enchanting in autumn
10 German films you have to watch before you die
6 things about Munich that’ll stay with you forever
10 pieces of German slang you'll never learn in class
Ouch! Naked swimmer hospitalized after angler hooks his penis
Six reasons why Berlin is now known as 'the failed city'
15 tell-tale signs you’ll never quite master German
7 American habits that make Germans very, very uncomfortable
Story of a fugitive cow who outwitted police for weeks before capture
Eleven famous Germans with surnames that'll make your sides split
The best ways to get a visa as an American in Germany
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd