80% of Americans stressed out at work

Stress Test

Ever have one of those days where you're so stressed out that you snap at someone - or you tear your desk apart because you can't find your keys and you know they're there somewhere?!

You're not alone.

Eight out of 10 American workers are stressed out by at least one thing at work, according to the latest survey conducted by Nieslen for Everest College, little changed from 83 percent a year ago.

"I think a lot of it has to do with what's happening in the workforce today: People in the U.S. think we're still in a recession," said Wendy Cullen vice president of employer development for Everest College.

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The U.S. jobs report , consumer confidence and other economic data may be showing statistical improvements, but on the ground for most workers, the reality is, many jobs cut during the downturn haven't been replaced. Workloads have increased. And that isn't coinciding with a raise - or, in many cases, hiring more workers.

Low pay has been the top reason for job stress for four years running but this year, it tied with long commutes (13 percent each). Among the other gripes cited were unreasonable workload, annoying co-workers and poor work-life balance.

One encouraging sign of the times: Of the top 10 reasons cited, "fear of being fired/laid off" ranked near the bottom, with just 4 percent citing it as a source of stress.

Lists are made every year of the most stressful jobs, like the one from CareerCast, but the truth is, just about everyone battles stress.

I'm dubious of those other 20 percent who said not one thing stressed them out at work. Who are these people? Has the copier never jammed? A co-worker never chewed loudly?!

Nielsen doesn't give the breakdown of that 20 percent but they do say that workers 65 and older are appear more stress-resistant than any other age group: A whopping 50 percent of that demographic said nothing stressed them out at work.

Perhaps by that age, their bar has just been set too high for stress - or, they just don't have the energy to care anymore.

For the other 80 percent of us, stress is exponential: Mention your stress at work, and guaranteed, someone else jumps in to tell you their even more stressed-out story. "You think that's bad ..."

Of course, dangerous jobs like soldier and firefighter often land at the top of the lists like CareerCast's annual list of the Most Stressful Jobs - and rightly so - but office-combat jobs also rank high in stress.

Read More The most - and least - stressful jobs for 2014

Senior corporate executive makes CareerCast's top 10 just about every year.

"You can make a decision that results in huge layoffs. Or a decision that your shareholders don't like. You have to keep thinking about the consequence of every decision," said Tony Lee, publisher of CareerCast.com and JobsRated.com.

That type of stress is palpable on Wall Street, where your job is to make more money, no matter what - and always get the edge over the guy sitting next to you - or face the wrath of bosses and clients.

In "Young Money," Kevin Roose chronicles several entry-level Wall Streeters, who immediately begin feeling the stress of the job, from the yelling and berating, to the long hours that cost them relationships and health problems - and the fantasies of leaving that spring up almost immediately. One young sales and trading analysts at Goldman Sachs , "Samson," actually has a countdown clock on his bedroom wall to serve as inspiration - for the day he will quit.

Ask any guy on Wall Street what his "number" is, and he'll tell you the amount of money he wants to make before he pulls the cord on his parachute and gets out.

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When one of the latest "most stressful jobs" lists came out, the conversation over at job site Wall Street Oasis quickly turned to - what, no investment banking associate or securities and commodities trader? Finance isn't stressful?!

I would have to agree with them there - with all the 100-hour workweeks and sleepless nights, Wall Street should have a standing reservation on the most stressful jobs list.

One of the things that adds to job stress for all of us is the onslaught of information and communication that follows you around 24/7, 365 days a year. It's something the Atlantic called "hyper-employment" - a condition that even affects the unemployed!

We're taking our work home with us and, what's worse, we're dropping the ball on one of the things that's supposed to help relieve stress - vacations. Most workers gets about 14 vacation days per year but on average, only use about 10, according to Expedia's annual vacation-deprivation survey. Meanwhile, 76 percent of American workers said they checked their email and voicemail on vacation.

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"No one retires wishing they'd spent more time at their desk!" John Morrey, vice president and general manager at Expedia.com, said in a statement.

Well, it's not too late.

Did you know that April is Stress Awareness Month?

Hey, let's snap a pencil and let's celebrate! (Or, quietly choke on your own rage. However you choose to observe the holiday is entirely up to you.)

Here are a few tips from Health and Human Services: Recognize when you don't have control and let it go; don't get anxious about situations you cannot change; focus on what makes you feel calm and in control; and develop a vision for healthy living, wellness and personal-professional growth.

If you find yourself pressed for time and optimism, then maybe just try a cute animal video from the Internet - like this puppy arguing over bedtime. I don't know about you, but I just felt my pulse lower.

- By CNBC's Cindy Perman. Cindy Perman is the commentary editor for CNBC.com and the author of the book, "New York Curiosities." Follow her on Twitter @cindyperman.

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