How Work-Related Stress May Be Affecting Your Health

Gone are the days of the 40-hour work week, businesses shutting down on Sundays to allow time with family, and the sought-after 9-5 work day. Jobs today are mentally or physically demanding to the extreme. Work weeks are becoming longer and longer and time off is unheard of.

Managers are expecting more work to be completed without adequate staffing so most working individuals are doing several jobs at once. Also, most are required to work from home, respond to emails and phone calls late at night or during days off, and are required to meet strict unrealistic deadlines. Without proper time to de-stress, the body tends to become easily fatigued and broken down. This breakdown causes immune dysfunctions, cognitive issues, low sleep quality, and hinders quality of life.

How Stress Causes Health Decline

There are many negative physical and psychological consequences associated with overworking. These issues may be physical, psychological, or both.

Stress Chart

Physical

High amounts of stress cause increased cortisol which is known as the stress hormone. Too much cortisol in the body breaks down the immune system and causes cellular damage. This damage attacks the cells that are responsible for fending off infection. [1]

Another side effect of heightened cortisol levels is fatigue. The amount of fatigue experienced after heavy cell breakdown makes even the smallest tasks difficult to perform. [2] High cortisol levels often cause disruptions in sleep cycles. Most individuals under a lot of stress take longer to fall asleep and experience more sleep disturbances. Lack of sleep alone causes physical and cognitive damage. [3]

Overworking can also cause cardiovascular damage. This is because the adrenal glands increase cortisol release. This damage can cause severe health problems including heart attack, stroke, heart failure, and many other heart abnormalities. [4]

An article published on thenational.ae referred to a study that showed stressful work conditions and excessive work hours increase the likelihood of early death. This study centered on individuals in Japan that worked an average of 47 hours of overtime per month which caused approximately 1,456 to work themselves to death. The majority of these deaths occurred due to heart attack and stroke. [5]

Psychological

Most individuals who are suffering from work-related stress often experience heightened anxiety. These anxiety symptoms include excessive worrying, negative anticipations, emotional tension, and even loss of control. One study showed that supplementing with DHEA may counteract these negative side effects. [6]

Stress also causes cognitive impairment because it blocks receptors crucial for basic brain function. Some of the deficits many face when highly stressed include memory loss, decreased motor skills, and inability to make decisions. [7]

RelaxDe-Stress

Many individuals are facing dangerous stress levels in their working lives. If you find yourself in this type of situation, evaluate the true worth of your current job title. Consider working for a different company or taking a step down. Be sure to take time to yourself and with your loved ones to maintain quality of life. You should spend this time without your cell phones, laptops, and other work-related technology. You can find some advice on natural supplements to assist with stress relief here.

Sources

  1. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/
  2. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17287088
  3. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9415946
  4. http://www.medpagetoday.com/cardiology/atherosclerosis/40133
  5. http://www.thenational.ae/business/the-life/job-stress-might-be-killing-yo
  6. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/11972140
  7. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3302010/
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