Why Your Job May Be Literally Killing You
By Kirsten Cowart
Stress in the workplace isn’t just hard on your mental health, according to a new study conducted by the Harvard Business School and Stanford University – It can be just as bad for your health as secondhand smoke.
With the U.S. average work week being around 47 hours, it is no wonder that you may be feeling so much pressure from your job. “When you think about how much time individuals typically spend at work, it’s not that surprising,” says the study’s co-author, Joel Goh, who is an assistant professor of the business administration at Harvard Business School.
The study compiled evidence from 228 different studies. What they found is that the high demands of a stressful job can increase the odds of individuals being diagnosed with an illness by a doctor by 35%.
The long hours will also take a huge toll on your health by increasing the chances of a premature death by almost 20%!
The biggest worry that affects your health at work is the fear that you might soon lose your job. Considering the idea that many people live paycheck to paycheck and do not have an emergency fund set up really makes this statistic a harsh reality. The fear of losing your job will increase your chances of having poor health by about 50%!
Goh hopes that the results of this study will help companies improve how they manage their employees. He also said that, though it may seem like demanding faster work or for your employees to work longer hours will increase productivity, it actually won’t – No boss wants their employees to have poor health or call in sick.
While this news will hopefully be read by your boss, there are some things you can do as an employee to reduce stress and, in turn, help your health.
1. Keep A Work Journal
According to the Mayo Clinic, one of the best ways that you can cope with stress is to write it down. When you are writing for the day, try to remember when you first started feeling stress. It often first appears as a twinge in your gut. Perhaps it started when you had a conversation with a co-worker or received a text from a friend.
You may find that the stress actually isn’t related to your job, but is based around a relationship or outside factor. This will help you pinpoint the problem areas and be more able to take steps in order to correct it.
2. Do A Reality Check
Just like the study above mentioned, the biggest stress at work is the fear or subconscious fear that you may lose your job. This is why it is important to do a reality check. Ask yourself: “Is my job really in jeopardy? Or could this just be a story I am telling myself?”
Perhaps you misread a look from your boss, or you are less forgiving of your own mistakes than your co-workers are. Maybe everything is just fine and what you really need to do is ask some of your trusted fellow employees what they think about your situation. It’s possible an outside perspective will help ground and balance your stress.
3. Ask Yourself, “Do I Like What I Do For Work?”
You may have found that if you do something you are passionate about, then you enjoy it a whole lot more. Los Angeles Psychologist Joanna Lipari has found that “People who believe in what they’re doing handle stress better than those who don’t.” She also suggests that if the answer to the question is “no,” then you may want to find something that you do like doing. Your health could depend on it.
4. Think Through The Worst-Case Scenario
If you were to really lose your job, what would happen? Well, your life would change a lot and though it might take time, you would find something new to do. Who knows, maybe that would even be a good thing.
You could start keeping your eyes and ears open for new opportunities and see if your friends mention new areas of work that are hiring. Perhaps your job stress is because you are no longer learning anything new or feeling fulfilled with your work. That may be a sign that it’s time to look for another group or organization that you will feel passionate about.
5. Set Healthy Limits With Your Boss
Pleasing others has been programed into us since birth. It can be hard to break the cycle and realize that you are already doing your best. If you are feeling overly tired after work, it may be time to set limits to what you choose to do.
There is no honor in working yourself to death. Maybe you can learn to simplify your life and then there would be less need to work as many hours. Perhaps you will discover that 8 hour days as opposed to 10 hour days will help you have less sick days and increase your productivity at work.
This way, you can have more time to care for yourself and your family too. Talk to your boss about what you need to be on top of your game at work. “Make it about being project-oriented, not time-oriented,” Lipari says.
Take the steps today to save your health by ending your work stress and let us know about your experiences in the comments below.
Kirsten Cowart is a writer and researcher that has worked in the spiritual, mental health and medical fields.Kirsten enjoys studying and experiencing the benefits of yoga, meditation, nutrition, herbalism, organic gardening and alternative health.She worked hard in 2014 losing over 40 lbs. and has since maintained a healthy lifestyle.Follow her to learn more about her journey on Twitter, Facebook & Youtube!
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