5 great jobs for optimal mental and physical health

Thinking about changing jobs to one that’s better for your health and wellbeing? Try these on for size.

Most of us need to work for a living, but could our jobs be doing us more harm than good?

While many people experience strain in the workplace every now and then, a national Stress and Wellbeing Survey by the Australian Psychological Society found we are increasingly suffering from depression, anxiety and stress.

And that means it could be time for a change.

So what are the best jobs for your health and wellness?

1. Fitness instructors

When global employment website Monster.com published its list of top jobs for health, those working in health and fitness were right up there.

From personal trainers to choreographers, running coaches and yoga instructors, these are all careers that encourage a healthy, active lifestyle.

“It’s so rewarding to be able to do something you’re passionate about and where you have the flexibility to work at home, the park or even the beach with clients,” agrees personal trainer and mum-of-two Nat McGrath of Movebyn in Victoria.

2. Data scientists

Perhaps more of a surprise is that data scientists score well when it comes to healthy and happy jobs, according to two recent surveys.

CareerCast.com’s best jobs list and CareerBliss’s list of happiest jobs nominated data science – where people either collect, interpret, implement or protect facts and figures – as being a top choice, because demand is high and it pays well.

But there’s more to it than that – these sorts of roles tick lots of other boxes, says Kim Seeling Smith.

“I can easily see why they’re considered healthy because people in this field are involved in interesting and meaningful work that is strategic and innovative and engages all parts of the brain,” says Kim, chief executive of Ignite Global.

best jobs health

3. Health professionals

Monster’s list also named multiple professions in the health industry, including nutritionists, massage therapists and chiropractors.

For other health industry roles, though, the jury is out, says Kim, as these are careers where people often report high levels of stress.

“When you’re talking about nurses or dentists for example, these are areas we need to focus on improving,” she says.

“People drawn to these roles are usually empathetic and caring by nature which means the hours they work and things they deal with can have a huge impact on mental wellbeing.”

4. Florists and landscape gardeners

Both of these involve working with nature, which science is showing yields huge benefits for our health, something Perth-based Peter Duyvestyn knows only too well.

“I worked part-time as a landscaper for many years and in Western Australia that means you are able to appreciate all weather, especially the good!” he says.

“The interaction with nature in all of its forms is not only mentally stimulating but physically rewarding. It gave me time to think, in fact was almost meditative, and I’d often go home with a positive story to tell.”

5. Marine scientists

Chat to University of Western Australia coral researcher Taylor Simpkins, and you can see how this job equates with good health.

“The healthiest job anyone can have is one that doesn’t feel like work – it’s a cliché, but it means you wake up excited for each day,” she says.

“Being a scientific diver has allowed me to travel and work in many different ecosystems, from giant kelp forests in California to coral reefs in Australia, and each project leaves me even more humbled by the ocean.

“The best part of what I get to do is trying to work out the challenges – like how can I count fish, follow a compass heading, record the size and species of each fish, and lay down a transect line all at the same time, while underwater!”

Written by Liz McGrath.