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How to deal with Notary work stress and stay healthy and happy on the job

Updated 2-20-24.

Working as a Notary is flexible, rewarding and provides a valuable service to the public — but no one ever said it's a cakewalk. Notaries face many sources of stress on the job, including angry customers, illegal requests, irregular work hours and more.

Managing stress is important for your health and long-term success as a Notary. Let's look at some common causes of stress while notarizing along with tips to keep them from overwhelming you.

Common causes of Notary stress

Among the most frequent causes of Notary stress are improper and illegal requests from signers. Not only do some signers get upset when you must turn them down, but sometimes they fail to understand why you can't just do as they ask — even if the law forbids it.

"One major cause of stress for me is when client companies insist that I can be a witness on a document that I am also notarizing. This is illegal in my state." Kim Williams Case of North Carolina said on Facebook. "I have even had an attorney tell me I could accept a temporary paper copy of a renewed driver's license — also illegal in North Carolina. I have had clients attempt to pressure me into doing this even after I confirmed I can't with the Secretary of State's office."

For Notary Signing Agents, there's extra stress because they must perform additional tasks for loan signing assignments as well as notarizing signatures.

Printing documents, especially when they are emailed at the last minute, getting home to scan or drop completed documents in time and managing multiple assignments on the same day are all stressful for Signing Agents working under tight time constraints, said Debbie Barnett of Arizona. "I hate being late," she said.

On top of these everyday stressful work situations, the COVID-19 pandemic has required Notaries to meet with signers in odd places or accommodate unusual requests. California Signing Agent Vanessa Moore described how for one signing, she had to meet the signer outdoors using a small children's table to sign and notarize loan documents and Glenn Tabor, Jr. of Virginia once had to make a 2-hour round trip to meet a signer outside in 30-degree weather with 30 mile-per-hour winds blowing.

Gavin Ricciu Franklin of California summed it up best: "Everyone thinks this is an easy job, but it's not."

Managing Notary stress is important for your health

Managing your stress is vital to avoid wearing yourself out, says Notary educator and professional wellness expert Susi Sivkov, author of the book "NotaRISE: Rise to your greatest potential with Three to Thrive." Sivkov found that her lengthy travels throughout the country presenting Notary education seminars were taking a toll on her physically and mentally. As a result, she developed a variety of stress-coping techniques.

"There's a lot of added pressure on mobile Notaries, especially for those just starting out in their careers," she said. "Many Notaries may have given up a full-time job to start a career as a Notary and ask themselves, 'Am I going to make this work?' However, running around working as a Notary all day, then trying to catch up with emails and other business matters at night can create a heavy mental burden and affect your health."

3 stress coping techniques: Take breaks, exercise and set a balanced schedule

Sivkov recommends the following to help deal with Notary stress:

Set aside time each day in a quiet setting to calm down, breathe deeply and clear your mind. "Even just a couple of minutes breathing to clear your mind can make a big difference in how your brain works for the rest of the day," Sivkov said. If you can't schedule a set time every day, that's OK. If you find yourself overwhelmed unexpectedly while out on assignment, even parking and sitting in your car quietly for a 10-minute break can help you balance yourself and cope more effectively, she said.

If you find yourself getting stressed, take a few minutes to do light exercise, move around or get some other form of physical activity. "Movement is good not just for physical health, but mental clarity," Sivkov says. "Take a quick walk outside, or even just turn on music and dance to a happy song for 5 minutes. It can really help adjust your stress level."

When planning your schedule, set clear boundaries between your professional and personal time so you have enough time to take care of personal and family needs. Consider what type of Notary work is best for your schedule and lifestyle — mobile assignments that require travel, or working from home? For example, some Notaries may find mornings more convenient to drive to mobile and loan signing assignments. But if you're a parent taking care of kids, you may need your mornings free to get ready for school, so working home doing remote online notarizations during afternoons before the kids come home may be better for your personal needs.

Final thought: Don't be afraid to try something different

Many Notaries think they need to stick to a rigid plan and schedule in order to succeed, but if you feel like you are burning out, don't be afraid to change the way you do things and make more time for your personal life and well-being, Sivkov said. Be willing to adjust your work hours or the times you are available for Notary work if you need to, look into new services you can offer that fit better with your life needs, and most importantly don't sacrifice your well-being to achieve success as a Notary.

"I've talked to thousands of Notaries during my career at the NNA, and a lot of them feel like they get stuck and stressed out at some point," she said. "New adventures like starting a Notary career come with risk, but don't forget they also come with a lot of rewards. The way to achieve that is to set boundaries for yourself professionally and personally, and you will find it more rewarding as a result."

David Thun is the Editorial Manager at the National Notary Association.

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Add your comment

23 Mar 2022

Great read. As I am researching and taking my notary business to the next level, it's great to read and/or hear stories to help keep stress down and strategies for a work-life balance.

Margaret Paddock/CiatiNotaryJournal

24 Mar 2022

Years ago I learned a meditation trick - you can close your eyes for about 5 seconds and become totally refreshed. It's worth the time to take a good class in Yoga/meditation to learn how to relax and refresh in seconds or minutes. (I even took my 10yr old to class with me- some kids need to slow down).

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