Dealing with STRESS from Your Job
Stress in the workplace is so common and widespread it might as well be an American pastime. Job and career related pressure is one of the biggest sources of anxiety for most Americans.
According to the American Psychological Association’s it's the number one most common stressor for adults overall.
Chronic stress is linked to the six leading causes of death: heart disease, cancer, lung ailments, accidents, cirrhosis of the liver and suicide.
Work related stress pretty consistently ranks as the top cause of stress for American adults. It makes sense since the number two cause of stress behind it is usually financial insecurity.
Money makes the world go round and the truth is, money greatly impacts not just your status in society, but also has enormous implications on your lifestyle.
Dangers and implications of high stress:
While periodic bouts of stress are normal, long term stress has lots of negative health implications. When your body is under chronic stress, your body’s immune system becomes overworked and weakened.
Cortisol is the hormone in the body directly related to stress.
There are many bodily risks that accompany high cortisol and chronically high stress so it’s important to keep it under control.
Anywhere from 75-90% of all doctor’s office visits are for stress related issues.
Long term stress can result in a host of issues including:
- Mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and personality disorders
- Cardiovascular disease, including heart disease, high blood pressure, abnormal heart rhythms, heart attacks, and stroke
- Obesity and other eating disorders
- Menstrual problems
- Sexual dysfunction, such as impotence and premature ejaculation in men and loss of sexual desire in both men and women
- Skin and hair problems, such as acne, psoriasis, and eczema, and permanent hair loss
- Gastrointestinal problems, such as GERD, gastritis, ulcerative colitis, and irritable colon
Work related stress comes from a number of factors:
For many people in major cities, work related stress comes not from the job itself but the commute. It’s been studied and observed time and again that commuting makes people miserable. People who commute become unhappy and anxious and people who commute experience lower life satisfaction. Even a great job can cause tons of stress and lots of issues if it involves a hellish commute.
- Pay issues
Since financial insecurity is also a top cause of stress, and closely intertwined with your career/job, it’s no surprise that it’s a major stressor. Understandably, personal finances and making enough money is a huge concern for most Americans and stays on a lot of people's minds. Many people are stressed because they don’t like their job and feel they are underpaid for the work they do. Some are stressed trying to get promoted or find a new position. Some people lose their jobs, get fired or laid off, or can’t work for other reasons and become stressed out trying to find another way to make money.
- Pressure to perform
First responders like police, firefighters, and EMTs certainly deal with extreme situations on a frequent basis. Working in a hospital for some positions would be similar. Dealing with a position where you oversee lots of other people or have lots of areas of responsibility causes lots of people to feel anxious. Working in a highly performance based or quota carrying position can be very stressful for people as well. Not to mention dealing with rude customers or working in high stress jobs can certainly put a strain on you.
Having a job isn’t always fun otherwise they wouldn’t call it work. However stress is a natural part of life and having a career, so you have to find ways to manage and deal with it.
Tips for improving stress management in the workplace:
- Exercise - Exercise while being overall great for your health, helps to reduce anxiety and stress. Finding time before or after work to get at least 15 minutes of exercise in each day can make a real difference.
- Commuting - If you’re somehow able to shorten your commute by even 20 minutes, you can significantly reduce stress and anxiety. If your employer has a work from home policy or allows remote work some of the times, definitely look into it. You might also consider listening to podcasts or relaxing music during your commute.
- Sunlight - Get outside more. Many people who work indoors, especially with a 9-5 schedule might go all day during the workday without getting sunlight. Lack of exposure to natural light in the work space is associated with physiological, sleep and depressive symptoms.
- Walking - One tactic you can use to address both exercise and sunlight is to take a 10-15 minute walk everyday at work.
- Sleep - Make sure you’re getting sufficient sleep and a decent quality of sleep. Better quality sleep will improve your mood and mental state in a general and there’s definitely a correlative relationship with your quality of sleep and overall health.
- Mindfulness - Develop a daily mindfulness practice like yoga or meditation that you can do for at least 10 minutes a day on a regular basis. Numerous studies have shown that yoga and meditation can help reduce stress and anxiety. It can also enhance your mood and overall sense of well-being.
- Supplement - Ashwagandha, in addition to its other benefits, has a proven effect on lowering cortisol. As an adaptogen it helps the body adapt to stress. One study showed a 5.5% reduction in the placebo group, compared to 44% in the ashwagandha group.
While you may not be in a position to quit your job, there are actions you can take to reduce work related stress and anxiety.
There’s no reason your career should be negatively impacting your health and overall well-being.
Do your mental wellness and your immune system a favor by keeping your stress under control. Take your health seriously and don’t sacrifice your wellness for a paycheck.
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