You’ve probably said from time to time “My job is killing me.” But is that the truth? Can you die of stress at the workplace?
You’ve probably said work is “causing me to pull my hair out.”You are probably not really pulling your hair out (we sure hope not!), but job stress could be hurting your health.
In a stress management article by Mayo Clinic researchers, they say, “The long-term activation of the stress-response system — and the subsequent overexposure to cortisol and other stress hormones — can disrupt almost all your body’s processes. This puts you at increased risk of numerous health problems.”
1. What stress does to you
Naila Rasheed writes in the International Journal of Health Sciences that “Stress is well-known fact involved significantly in the onset of almost all major depressive disorders. Moreover, prolonged stress in humans caused serious neurological disorders, cardiac problems (including heart attack), gastric ulcers, asthma, diabetes, headaches, accelerated aging, and premature death.”
The MD Anderson Cancer Center in Texas is a world leader in cancer treatment and study. Markham Heid said long-term stress is the one that does harm. “This type of no-end-in-sight stress can weaken your immune system, leaving you prone to diseases like cancer,” he wrote:
Too much mental stress can also kill you quickly and well before you should really die.
“Yale researchers have found that psychological stress can facilitate sudden death by increasing the chances that arrhythmias — abnormal heart rhythms — are more lethal in susceptible patients,” says a news report from the Yale about a stress and mortality study. The two-year study was published in the journal of the American Heart Association.
British researchers also studied psychological stress. Their findings are published in the British Medical Journal. Among other things, the six medical professionals found an increased risk of mortality associated with long-term stress, and more specifically “cardiovascular disease.” Their findings also found an increased risk of cancer “with psychological distress at higher levels.”
The Huffington Post has an infographic in this article that walks you through stress and how it will affect you days, weeks and months later.
2. How Much Life You Are Losing
The question then becomes, how much of your life is being cut short because of stress?
The Independent, a British newspaper, reported on a study from Harvard and Stanford universities. The study is behind a paywall. Graphics in the newspaper article point to people losing quite a bit of life expectancy for a variety of reasons. One of the bar graphs in the newspaper article shows unemployment and layoffs being the second biggest stress factors on the job.
Losing your job is definitely a stressful situation. Even the threat of it will cause more stress than you need.
Finnish researchers also took a look at work stress from being tired and its effect on longevity. “These data suggest that work-related exhaustion is related to the acceleration of the rate of biological aging. This hypothesis awaits confirmation in a prospective study measuring changes in relative telomere length over time,” they wrote.
“When we’re under ongoing stress, it creates that fight-or-flight reaction in an unrelenting way, and as a result, stress chemicals are released into the body. What we know so far is that the release of those stress chemicals creates biological changes,” Dr. Vivian Diller, Ph.D., tells the Huffington Post. “It’s very possible that if you have a life filled with that constant stress, little by little the body is breaking down.”
3. What You Can Do
The first part of getting a handle on the stress that is ruining your health is to admit it exists. As a successful professional, you are used to taking in uncomfortable facts and working with them. This situation is no different. So embrace this reality – work-related stress is the second-highest stress people experience. Only worrying about money is worse. The difference between being concerned about money and worry about work is only 4 percent in the American Psychological Association poll.
Step two is to find out how much stress you are under. How bad is it? More importantly, where is the stress coming from? The American Institute of Stress (talk about a stressful job!) has studied this. The breakdown shows 46 percent of job stress comes from the workload. Another 28 percent comes from dealing with people, co-workers, customers, bosses, employees, and vendors all come under this heading. Twenty percent is from trying to have a healthy work-personal life balance.
Let’s make this simpler. Stress at the job comes from:
– 46% work
– 28% people
– 20% work-life balance
Now, which category creates the most headaches for you?
4. Implement the Plan
Beat stress. You can do it. You just need to have a solid plan and a good follow-through. Here are five tips:
1) Improve your relationship will important people in your life. Tell someone you love them.
2) Get more productive. Take control of your work environment.
3) Get enough sleep. Meditate. Exercise. Eat healthy.
4) Learn to relax.
5) Subscribe to our newsletter for regular stress-busting tips for professionals and business executives.
Do you think we are exaggerating? Feel free to leave your comments!
Want to work stress-free, sleep well, free yourself from anxieties? Here are some of our favorite books on stress management selected with executives in mind. Relieve stress, calm your mind and body and boost your health from the comfort of your own home or office.