Last April I lost my job. At the time I was going through some health problems, and I was scheduled to have exploratory surgery a couple weeks later. I never had the surgery, because as it turns out my health began to improve when I was no longer going to work. While losing my job certainly put me in a stressful situation, the work stress I faced day-in and day-out from that job was actually damaging my health even more. Work stress is a common problem in the U.S., but what is it really doing to your body and what can you do to relieve it?
WebMD reports that stress was found to be the highest health factor risk among 11 other factors examined. The other health factors included substance abuse, high blood pressure and being overweight. That’s some company for work stress, and a troubling sign for those who face an increasing amount of work stress each day. Stress is also a contributing factor in a number of diseases including acid reflux. On top of that it can weaken your immune system, opening you up to a number of other illnesses.
Since we know that work stress can be detrimental to both your short-term and long-term health, what are some steps we can take to alleviate work stress?
First, pinpoint the cause of your work stress. Is it a particular project, a colleague or the overall work environment? If you can’t find the trigger it’s likely a conflict with the company culture. Once you isolate the cause- if you can- you need to work to find a solution. If it’s a particular person then try to rationally talk to them about your differences. Avoiding it may just cause it to manifest elsewhere and you won’t see much of an improvement in your health.
If you can’t quite eliminate the particular source of work stress, look for a healthy outlet. Grab your gym bag and hit the machines during lunch or immediately before or after work. It’ll both help alleviate work stress and improve your overall health. Finding an activity outside of work will focus your energy elsewhere and help your mind avoid thinking about whatever is causing you stress.
Work stress can weaken your health and potentially cause permanent damage. Identifying the source of the problem, dealing with it head on and finding an alternate activity to relieve stress will help improve your health as well as your work and personal life.
How do you cope with work stress? Share with us in the comments section below!
IMAGE: Courtesy of Flickr by Dave-F